Hispanic Heritage Game Hits Home
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Grand Rapids Griffins will host their first-ever Hispanic Heritage Night presented by Consumers Energy when the Cleveland Monsters pay a visit to Van Andel Arena this Saturday, Feb. 25. This monumental game is an important outreach to the Hispanic community in Grand Rapids and means a little more for Griffins digital media manager Nicolas Carrillo.
“I’m originally from Quito, Ecuador, born and raised in the folds of the Pichincha Volcano, as my old man used to say,” Carrillo said. “I moved to the States five years ago, and hockey has welcomed me with open arms no matter where I came from or what language I speak.”
With the Griffins, Carrillo handles much of the photography seen on the website, press releases and social media channels, in addition to creating all of the graphics used during games and on social media. However, Carrillo had a special task for the Hispanic Heritage Night.
“I was approached by [director of game presentation Brandon Nelson] to design a jersey that in some way represented the Hispanic community in West Michigan,” Carrillo explained. “The hope was that me being born and raised in Ecuador would give me a better understanding of how to approach a jersey design for Hispanic Heritage Night. I chose to base the jersey on ‘la Escuela Quitena de Arte’ that in English translates to the Quito School of Art.”
The Quito School of Art in the capital of Ecuador is known for using a lot of indigenous symbolism as well as Andean flora and fauna in its artwork. Carrillo incorporated those elements into the jersey in addition to many more unique traits that bring out the Hispanic flavor. The sleeves and bottom part of the jersey are adorned with local plants, similar to the baroque art used in facades and retables in Latin America art. Colorful wrist bands wrap around the shoulder and elbow to represent the different ethnicities around Latin America. The back of the jersey features mountains that simulate the Andes in South America and the sun god Inti, an ancestor of the Incas. Los Griffins jersey is polished off with a Día de los Muertos skull Griffin to represent the Mexican culture. Behind the Griffin, Carrillo added the Mexican marigold flower, cempasúchil, a plant Mexicans place on altars for the visiting souls on the Día de los Muertos.
“I did a lot of research around other Latin American countries trying to represent the large population of Latinos in the states,” Carrillo said. “I didn’t want to copy what other teams have already done, but rather how they manage to replicate the Latino culture on previous jerseys using the colors and symbols while staying true to their brand standards as a hockey team.”
The first 2,500 fans in attendance on Saturday will receive a free Los Griffins t-shirt, courtesy of Consumers Energy. DJ Money Mike, a local Hispanic DJ, will be spinning live music throughout the night, while artist Arturo Morales Romero, who has painted multiple Hispanic murals around Grand Rapids, will be on the arena concourse displaying his work. Finally, Ballet Folklorico de GR will perform dance routines during pre-game and both intermissions.
“To be honest I’m really looking forward to seeing the guys wearing the jersey and to see people’s reactions when they see the players coming out from the locker room wearing Los Griffins jerseys,” Carrillo commented. “I really hope that the Latino community relates to the jersey in some way. That would be a win for me.
“I hope this game helps get the Hispanic community more engaged with hockey and aids the Hispanic youth to become more involved in a sport that isn’t common for Latinos,” Carrillo said. “This gives [Grand Rapids] the chance to bring more diversity to the game and opens up opportunities to explore and promote a new fan base.”
To purchase a Los Griffins game-worn jersey, visit the DASH app and search for the Grand Rapids Griffins.