Feb 1, 2024 - Sports

The Preds team with TSU for Black History Month jersey design

Part of the design for special Predators jerseys marking Black History Month.

Part of the design for special Predators jerseys marking Black History Month. Image: Courtesy of Tennessee State University

For the second straight year, the Nashville Predators turned to a Tennessee State University professor to help celebrate Black History Month with custom-designed jerseys.

Why it matters: This is the latest manifestation of the partnership between the Predators and TSU. They have worked together for years to increase diversity and inclusivity in the hockey world.

  • The team is already part of a coalition helping TSU launch a men's hockey team this fall. It is the first-ever hockey team at a historically Black college or university.

What happened: The team tapped TSU graphic design professor Kaleena Sales to work with Predators staff to create the jerseys as well as T-shirts for fans.

  • Players wore the jerseys before the game Wednesday night to mark the start of Black History Month. They will be auctioned off for charity.
  • The Grammy-winning TSU marching band also performed at the game.

What she's saying: "This exposure is expected to bring increased visibility to TSU and the surrounding HBCUs," Sales said in a statement.

  • "I'm excited and honored to have the opportunity to represent TSU and Nashville as a Black designer."
  • "To be celebrated professionally in such a public way means something to me. It speaks to the growth that we've had, and it honors what Black History Month celebration should really be about."

Between the lines: "As a design professor and a design researcher, I'm really interested in expanding narratives and honoring diverse perspectives within design," Sales said. "And the majority of my work really seeks to expand our understanding of what design means to different cultural groups."

Zoom in: Sales worked with Preds graphic designer Tayshaun Hassell on the special gear. The black-and-gold jersey design features historic West African symbols of wisdom, love and harmony.

  • Those symbols are juxtaposed with a bright geometric pattern that evokes improvisational jazz and modern Black culture.
  • The numbers and lettering on the jerseys are in the "Martin" typeface, which resembles nonviolent protest signs used during the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968.

"I think if you really sit down and you take the time to investigate what all this stuff means, it'll hit even harder," Hassell said in a statement. "It was definitely a cool piece, and I'm super honored and grateful to work with somebody that has such a creative mind and to be able to produce something like this."

Flashback: In 2023, TSU professor Eric Jackson helped design special jerseys for the Predator's Black History Month game.

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