The Atlanta Hawks have a new jersey patch that brings back a lot of fond childhood memories for many of their players and even their general manager Landry Fields.
The Hawks and the YMCA of Metro Atlanta announced a multiyear partnership today in which the YMCA’s signature Y logo will become the Hawks’ official jersey patch partner. Serving the Atlanta area since 1858, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta reaches more than 250,000 people in 35 locations in metro Atlanta. Basketball was invented by physical education teacher James Naismith of the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891. The Hawks, who partnered with Excel Sports Management on the jersey patch opportunity, will debut the new Y patch Tuesday night during their in-season tournament game against the visiting Indiana Pacers.
“For me personally, and I know a few of our guys, we have personal stories connected to the Y,” Fields told Andscape. “I grew up going to the Lakewood YMCA, which is right around the corner from Long Beach [California] where I’m from. It’s a place where I played in my first basketball league and learned how to swim. I was always there through high school. That was an old basketball stomping ground with the hours put in that gym …
“We have a [team] mantra that’s ‘True to Atlanta.’ A lot of values we place on the local community being for Atlanta and allowing a lot of the culture and diversity to seep into our organization, I think it’s highly aligned with the Y’s outreach, approach and philosophy. So that makes it really unique to us. I haven’t seen a patch like this one. Sometimes I’m like, I don’t even know what company that is.”
The YMCA’s hopes that through the sponsorship Hawks players, coaching staff and talent will amplify the club’s youth programming and create inspirational content for the next generation. The Hawks plan to support the YMCA in its needs to promote social responsibility and uplifting inclusive communities in diversity, equity and inclusion. The Hawks will also launch a series of campaigns to attract new YMCA members and raise funds to support the Y’s mission. The YMCA’s familiar Y symbol will be featured on all Hawks uniforms, the uniforms of the G League College Park Skyhawks and both the virtual and physical uniforms of their NBA 2K League affiliate Hawks Talon GC.
Hawks guard Trae Young will open the Young Family Athletic Center in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, in January. The two-time NBA All-Star recently told ESPN that developing the Young Family Athletic Center was inspired by his days at a YMCA while growing up in Norman, where he and his sisters, Caitlyn and Camryn, played sports. Point guard Kobe Bufkin and forward A.J. Griffin are among the other Hawks players who grew up going to the YMCA.
“I was brought up playing basketball at the YMCA,” Young told ESPN recently. “Whether it was playing with the older guys or just going up there early in the mornings, having a gym that was always accessible to me was always helpful. And it’s just something that was on the top of my mind when it came to what I should do for the city [of Norman] and for the community. And I thought that [the athletic center] was the best thing for it and it is kind of related back to how I grew up.”