At first, the Coon Rapids (1) 15U baseball team wasn’t about its jerseys. Originally supposed to be blue, head coach Joel Woodward picked them up to find they were purple. He called the director and said there must have been a mistake, but the director said he changed it last minute because he thought purple would be cooler.
Turns out, the players hated it at first. But fast forward 12 games and 12 wins later, they are embracing it in a unique way.
The players came up with their team name as the Purple Reign. Wearing purple and living in the home state of the late singer Prince, it fit.
“They all hated it to begin with, but it has grown on them as we’ve done well,” Woodward said. “Now they’re into it. It came out as we weren’t happy about the color and we made the best out of it. But we’re making it work.”
After every game during Woodward’s postgame speech, the team plays Prince’s “Purple Reign” on a boombox.
“We just have it in the background as I talk,” Woodward said. “But they’ll start dancing to it. At first they were embarrassed by it and told me to turn it down. But now I have to tell them to turn it down a little bit. They’re really liking it now.”
It doesn’t stop there.
Each player has been given a purple-related nickname. After the catcher threw a runner out at second base, he became “purple cannon”. One player is always concerned about his hair and become “purple perfect”. A big hit one game earned another player the nickname “purple clutch”.
Besides playing good baseball at 12-0 as of July 18, the team is having fun with a situation that early on was a downer. It’s that part of coaching that has Woodward enjoying this season the most.
“It’s my first time head coaching a baseball team,” he said. “Regardless of wins and losses, there’s a team in Cambridge that’s really good and we’ve been fortunate enough to get three wins against them. I got an email from the coach after one game praising the team and their attitude and sportsmanship. It kind of just said you should be proud of these guys because they play good ball and seem like good kids. I shared that with everyone and said that’s what means most to me. It’s fun to be around kids who are fun and have good attitudes. That’s been the most rewarding part to me.”