Seawolf athletes are sporting a new look when they head back into competition this week.
Motivated by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and the resulting casualties, each University of Alaska Anchorage athlete will don an American flag in the upper-right corner of their jersey, suit or leotard.
UAA athletic director Steve Cobb implemented the idea on Wednesday proceeding the attack. Cobb says it's important to recognize that the athletic staff and student athletes are more than just representatives of the school.
“We're all Americans first,” he said. “It's important that we do this not only this year, but every year and for every team.”
The volleyball team was the first to have the patch added to their jerseys. Head coach Kim Lauwers says she agrees with Cobb's decision.
“It definitely was the right thing to do,” Lauwers said. “As Alaskans and as Americans, we should display our pride in more than just the school.”
Athletes from all programs also support the slight alteration. When cross-country running coach Michael Friess told his athletes to have their uniforms at practice on Thursday, runners showed up with singlets in hand, some feeling relieved that they could do a little something to show support.
UAA athletics is host to a number of foreign athletes who are also proud to sport the stars and stripes.
Tobias Schwoerer, a cross-country runner and Nordic skier from Lenzkirsch, Germany, says he almost feels a sense of obligation and duty to wear the flag when he competes this year.
“I actually wanted to put an American flag sticker on my truck, but the transmission went out. It's broken,” said Schwoerer with a laugh.
Schwoerer cited efforts from other European nations and other foreign sports teams that he has seen in the news over the past week. He says he strongly believes the western world needs to send a message that they are with Americans and he's ready to be a part of that.
“It's an important sign for us as a team to carry that flag whether you are American or not.”