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New London - Coast Guard Academy's Curt Barrett wasn't quite sure what to do with himself Wednesday afternoon at the academy's exchange.
He and fellow Bears captain Casey Paris were on hand to model the football team's new adidas TechFit uniforms, the ones they'll wear for the first time in Saturday's season-opener against Merchant Marine.
Coast Guard's new logos, including the main image of a meaner looking Bear mascot in mid-growl, were also unveiled at the exchange, which was already stocked with the new merchandise.
"I'm used to frowning in this uniform," said Barrett, a senior inside linebacker, with a laugh of his stint in modeling. "But I've liked it from the get-go. It's top-of-the-line gear, which is the way the academy should be."
"It's like you had an old pair of tennis shoes and your mom surprises you with a new pair," said Paris, a senior tight end. "You feel faster. You feel like the coolest kid on the block. ... It brings the team that much closer."
Tim Fitzpatrick, who recently completed his first year of service as Coast Guard's director of athletics, helped broker the deal with adidas, a five-year shoe and apparel agreement for all 21 of the academy's varsity teams.
Fitzpatrick also undertook the rebranding initiative to make the Bear mascot look a little more "aggressive," he said Wednesday.
The press conference was attended by Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, Coast Guard's superintendent. It took place in the midst of racks of new T-shirts that said, "All Bears" and "Beat Kings Point," referring to Coast Guard's rivalry game on Saturday.
There were near life-size banners made up of Bears quarterback Jon Resch in one of the new adidas jerseys and cross country runner Sarah Blatt in the stylized running gear.
The new apparel will be available at more than 60 exchanges worldwide, as well as on-line beginning Oct. 1. It will also be sold inside Cadet Memorial Field during home games.
In remarks by Capt. Robert McKenna, the commander of Community Services Command, he explained that the proceeds from the exchange system go back to the 40,000 men and women on active duty in the Coast Guard.
Through what is known as the MWR program, which stands for Morale, Well-Being and Recreation, the Coast Guard allocates $80 per serviceman for such activities as picnics, sporting events or ski trips sponsored by individual Coast Guard stations.
Said Fitzpatrick: "This isn't just about new logos. Our rebranding is reflective of the positive, affirmative spirit of our program. ... (It's) an indication of our desire to provide our cadet-athletes with the very best resources that we possibly can.
"We do it to show our gratitude for the service that they will one day render, and we do it because they deserve the very best."
And of the football team's new blue helmets, which replace their signature orange look?
"I came from a blue and white high school," Barrett said. "So it's good for me."