Arrupe Jesuit High School was founded in 2003 in Denver, Colorado. The school offers a unique style of Jesuit education that is interwoven into a remarkable corporate work-study program. Students balance their classroom hours with real-life professional experiences, and on top of that, a select few balance training in competitive athletic programs. Mark Ladd, head soccer coach and theology teacher at Arrupe, wanted to show his appreciation and support of his varsity players at their 2023 senior night game. He reached out to us asking if we could design a custom jersey that celebrated the cultural background of the team, using indigenous/meso-american imagery to connect them to their roots.
The school mascot is a bulldog wearing a general’s uniform — an ode to Pedro Arrupe who was elected superior general of the Jesuits in 1965. This mascot served as the perfect inspiration for us to begin our design for the front of the jersey. We also wanted to use the school crest somewhere on the design to connect the new design to the history of the school.
Our projects begin as all designs do… with tracing paper and sketching. The plan was to execute a design on the front that would make sense for the back as well, replacing the hero imagery of the mascot with the player's name and number. The sleeves would be balanced in their designs but not exact mirror images of each other, placing the school crest on one sleeve and leaving space for a captain’s arm band on the other.
Arrupe’s Senior night is a home game which means that the players must wear a fairly dark jersey to contrast with the white jerseys of the away team. We knew we had a choice of navy design on gray background or vice versa. Although we knew that white was off limits, we couldn’t help but mock that option up to see how it looked for a future away game uniform. After testing out the mockups and running them by Coach Ladd, we decided that the navy design on grey jersey would be the best route.
Designing merchandise is similar to designing packaging but you are showcasing people instead of products. Instead of figuring out the surface area of the front panel of a shampoo bottle, you have to figure out what the front panel of an arm might be… and if everyone’s limbs are some version of a tapered cylinder, then how might that differ from a size small to a size XL?
With packaging you can usually print out a decent prototype and get a good idea of where cut-offs might fall and what the “safe area” should be for important graphics. This jersey project was different in that we couldn’t really create a 3D prototype and had to rely on the use of renders to estimate where graphics would fall.
The team debuted their brand new kits on Wednesday, October 18 as they took the field for their last normal season game before playoffs. The players and coaches were so excited about their new jerseys and we were honored to be able to bring their vision to life. One of our guiding principles at Agodie is to “appreciate all” and we appreciate all of the opportunities and obstacles that we had to overcome on this project.
Sports have a way of bringing people together from all over the world in the spirit of competition. This project pushed us creatively to tap into a culture that is different from our own and allowed us to celebrate a group of boys who deserve to feel at home — even if it is their home away from home.