ORANGE COUNTY, Florida – Football and the space program will share the same stage Friday night in Orlando.
What would you like to know
- UCF Space Game is Friday against Memphis at Bounce House
- This year’s jerseys honor the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Space Shuttle program
- They also recognize UCF alumni who participated in the shuttle program.
This year’s Space Game, a tradition that began in 2017, is a showdown between Memphis and the University of Central Florida, UCF Bounce House.
With 2021 marking 40 years since the Space Shuttle program began in 1981, that legacy will be at the center of this year’s competition.
The uniform design, led in UCF’s athletics department by Emma Schneider and Sahid Alpizar for a second year, includes all kinds of nods to the Space Shuttle program. The collar is designed to mimic the nose of the Space Shuttle, and the jersey numbers include squares similar to the tiles in the Space Shuttle heat protection system. Each of the jersey tiles pays homage to one of the 135 shuttle missions.
Schneider said it took a lot of work to get there and they relied on the support of several other members of the equipment department to execute their vision.
âThey worked hand in hand with us to find the best way to design the helmet, get all the pieces together, and then put them together with the chrome mask,â Schneider said.
Schneider and Alpizar faced the added challenge of bringing the jersey design together during the COVID-19 pandemic.
âWe were all forced to work from home at that time,â Alpizar said. âSo we made it work and did our best to come up with the theme, even though we weren’t physically all together as a team.â
The first year of the Space Game jersey was marked by a simple patch on the shoulders of UCF football uniforms, but it was such a popular theme that the full jersey was included in the design the following year. Now it includes the whole uniform.
UCF has a long history with the space program. The university was founded in 1963 as the Florida Technological University “with the mission of providing personnel to support the growing US space program at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Base.”
The band in the middle of this year’s helmet names more than 100 UCF alumni, faculty and fans who participated in the Space Shuttle program. The university noted that 29 percent of KSC employees are UCF alumni.
One alumnus received a special nod in the design of the jersey: Nicole Stott, a retired astronaut, co-founder of the Space for Art Foundation and author of the new book, “Back to Earth: What Life in Space Taught Me About our Home Planet and our mission to protect it.
She flew to the International Space Station as part of STS-128 and STS-133 on the Space Shuttle Discovery. She said the whole initiative is wonderful and she thinks the inclusion of Discovery was special.
âEven though Space Shuttle Discovery wasn’t, you know, a UCF alumnus, so many people that went there worked on that spaceship,â Stott said. “And to see that come along, the history of the Space Shuttle and the Space Shuttle program presented through these uniforms and their intent. Love it.”
She said it’s important to have these unique opportunities to bring space to the public to help inspire people.
âThis stuff, I think, is really interesting because it might attract someone, just like using art to engage an audience that might not know about the Space Station,â Stott said. “These kinds of things for the UCF population, for the community as a whole, might make someone realize something really important that they didn’t know or even knew they had as well. a link. I love that that’s part of what’s going to happen with this too.