Wayne State uniforms pay tribute to Medal of Honor
Honored servicemen will have their names on specialized jerseys
Detroit — Athletic director Rob Fournier was trying to think of a unique way to commemorate 100 years of athletics at Wayne State.
Besides a tribute patch on their jerseys, Fournier wanted a more special honor. The ideas kept coming and the wheels continued to spin in his head.
What Fournier came up with was a gem: The Warriors would wear special gray jerseys with stars on one shoulder, stripes on the other — and the name of a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor on the back.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. It’s presented by the President of the United States and there are 3,499 total recipients, dating back to the Civil War.
Fournier announced the tribute before Thursday’s practice, the players erupted in cheers in the locker room when junior linebacker Anthony Pittman emerged wearing the jersey.
“What I thought we would do in this next year of that celebration is acknowledge those Medal of Honor recipients by wearing their names on our backs because they’ve always had our backs,” Fournier told the players.
The Warriors will wear the jerseys for the first time on Saturday night when they host Saginaw Valley State in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference opener.
It’ll be another special moment for senior co-captain Ronny Brant II, who carries the team flag out for each game. He beamed with pride after he used his phone to find out that his jersey was for Navy Lieutenant Commander James Madison, who fought in World War I.
“The meaning behind it is something — that’s why I always run on the field with the flag,” Brant said. “Not everybody gets to wake up and do what we do here in America; we’re blessed to have that opportunity.”
The most recent recipient of the honor is a Michigan native: Private First Class James McCloughan of South Haven, who fought in Vietnam, received the Medal of Honor in July.
For coach Paul Winters, the best part of the tribute is having his players learn the stories of the soldier they’re honoring.
“It’s pretty awesome for the guys,” Winters said. “The idea
Athletic behind it with the Medal of Honor recipients is pretty incredible. Everyone’s taking pride in it and that’s special.”
Officials from Michigan State and Oakland were not happy to learn this week their men’s basketball game at Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 16 would tip off at 4 p.m., putting it right up against the Lions-Bears game, right down the street at Ford Field.
Now, it seems, there remains a glimmer of hope the basketball game time could still be changed.
“I still think there’s a chance for movement on it,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said.
TV dictates the start times, and because the games are considered Horizon League games, ESPN has the rights. MichiganDetroit Mercy will be on ESPNU at 1:30, and Michigan State-Oakland on ESPN2. For now, at least.
Wayne State football players will wear these commemorative jerseys beginning Saturday night against Saginaw Valley State.