Pace Bootlegger 14-1 Turns Heads at BJNC

By Darci Miller | June 28, 2013, 7:13 p.m. (ET)
  Pace Bootlegger 14-1 celebrates a point during its match against Western Alliance Lightning B14.

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RENO, Nev. (June 28, 2013) – Amidst the sea of volleyball teams filling the Reno-Sparks Convention Center for the 2013 USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championships (BJNC) in Reno, Nev., Pace Bootlegger 14-1 out of Rochester, N.Y., isn’t hard to find.

Rather than wearing a typical uniform, the team opted for watermelon-colored T-shirts and multicolored board shorts to kick off its first day of competition.

“We want our own identity,” Pace Bootlegger 14-1 Assistant Coach Scott Barnard said. “We want to be recognized. We want to be able to see down the courts and say, ‘hey, this is us.’”

Seeded sixth overall in the 14 Open Division at the BJNC, Pace Bootlegger 14-1 can attract attention with more than just its uniforms. Pace Bootlegger is well established as a highly regarded east coast club, and the team finished second at East Coast Regionals. Though only two players on this team have been to Nationals before, Barnard is pleased with the variety of his players.

“We’ve got a good mix,” Barnard said. “Good experience but also fresh eyes. We actually have a 12-year-old on our team [Owen Wickens], who’s our libero. He comes from a long line of volleyball players, so he’s really knowledgeable.”

For those wondering, as the libero, Wickens was decked out in mint green.

All of the team’s uniform decisions are made by outside hitter Seamus Darby, the team’s self-appointed fashion director.

“I coordinate the uniforms for the team,” Darby said. “We’re doing four days this weekend and we have four different uniforms, one for every day.”

“We depend on [Seamus] for everything,” middle blocker Christian Pawelek said with a laugh.

The uniform for the second day of competition will consist of white jerseys with blue numbers, worn with gray shorts. The next day will be the team’s normal uniforms, blue shirts with the gray shorts. For the playoff round and the final day of competition, Darby’s breaking out the board shorts again and pairing them with black tank tops.

Though pink isn’t a traditional uniform color for a boys’ team, Pace Bootlegger 14-1 is not bothered by it.

“I kind of like pink!” Pawelek said enthusiastically. “So I kind of favor the watermelon color.”

“I think they all like to be loud and make a fashion statement,” Darby said of his teammates.

“We want to look good,” agreed outside hitter Jarod Barnard.

Coach Barnard is proud of his team’s trailblazing ways and expects the watermelon uniforms to be a hot commodity when the annual BJNC jersey trading begins.

“We’ve had a few people come and see if they could have them,” Barnard said. “Hopefully at the end of the tournament we’ll be able to trade, because we’ve seen unique uniforms out here and we want to recognize that. We’ve had a lot of people say, ‘that’s neat, I wish we would’ve done that!’ It’s nice to be able to say we’re kind of a trendsetter.”

2013 USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championships
12 Club: June 27-June 29
13 Club: July 2-4
14 Open: June 28-July 1
14 Club: June 28-July 1
15 Open: June 29-July 2
15 Club: June 29-July 2
16 Club: June 30-July 3
17 Open: July 1-July 4
17 Club: July 1-4
18 Open: June 27-30
18 Club: June 27-30