Kentucky Guard athletic jerseys prove a winning combination

Story by Maj. David Page, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Maj. Brent Hulse, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Recruiting and Retention presents Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini with a framed special edition National Guard jersey in Frankfort, Ky., June 5, 2014. The traveling jerseys have been worn by a variety of high schools across the commonwealth and the football teams that wore them have never lost a game. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — In July 2013, 2/75th Recruiting and Retention Battalion Marketing section was researching ways to host Military Appreciation Nights during football and basketball games at various high schools throughout the commonwealth.

Borrowing an idea from the Indiana Guard, the team purchased traveling ‘National Guard’ jerseys for both football and basketball teams.

“Indiana was only using the jerseys in basketball, but we felt it would work well for football, too,” said Master Sgt. Bradley R. Harlan, marketing NCO for 2/75th.

That fall, the first football team donned the jersey and won. The next week, the next team had the same result. After ten regular games and one playoff game, every team that wore the jerseys won.

National Guard uniforms

The Franklin County High School football team prepare to take the field for a game in Frankfort, Ky., 2013. (Photo courtesy of 2/75th Recruiting and Retention)

“It was an honor to wear them.” said John Petett, head football coach Monroe County High School. “I felt like we were representing more than our school on that Friday night, and it was extra motivation for the team.”

Besides the great results for teams, the jersey was seen by approximately 11,000 people by the end of the football season. Plus, images of the jerseys were seen in numerous photos in the media, helping the Guard build awareness throughout the commonwealth.

The basketball uniforms didn’t yield the same winning results for all of the teams, but they were worn in 25 games during the 2013-14 season, with more than 20,000 fans seeing these uniforms. The jerseys also achieved similar media coverage as the football jerseys, further helping the Guard show its involvement in the community.

“Without the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and Julian Tackett, the KHSAA president, allowing the schools to use these for Military Appreciation nights, this would have not been possible,” said Harlan.

With the success of the Guard jersey program, R&R Battalion is in the process of purchasing two more sets of the football jerseys for the 2014 season.

“The football jerseys are already reserved for every Friday night game for the upcoming season,” said Harlan.

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