Herd Media

Jersey Madness: Unveiling the Inspiration Behind the Lady Bisons’ Dolly Parton Jerseys

Amidst March Madness, where 168 teams bring their A-game to the court, one jersey stands out as a light of uniqueness and inspiration. While each team reps its colors with pride, none quite match the spirit and Dolly charm of Lipscomb’s latest addition to the court. Step into the world where basketball meets country music, and discover the story behind the Lady Bisons’ one-of-a-kind Dolly Parton jerseys.

Dolly Parton displayed some of her iconic fashions at Lipscomb University last semester in a unique exhibit “Dolly & the Makers” – but that wasn’t the end of Dolly’s partnerships with Lipscomb.

This basketball season, the Lipscomb fashion department and women’s basketball team announced a partnership between the two, and Parton’s fashion team. The collaboration began with a competition among fashion students and led to new Dolly Pink jerseys for the women’s basketball team.

Lipscomb junior fashion student and golf player Lauren Thompson won the design competition with her concept for a pink-on-pink jersey full of Dolly-inspired elements. “I wanted to create something that I felt like envisioned just the Dolly aspect of things really well,” Thompson said in an interview with Herd Media. “But [that] also would look good on a uniform and something that the girls would want to wear. I submitted my design and thankfully it got chosen.”

With the design chosen, the process of creating the actual jerseys began. Thompson worked with Parton’s fashion team to understand the guidelines and to make sure the jerseys represented both Parton and Lipscomb well.

“Obviously [they] had to be pink,” Thompson laughed. “So I was like, let’s do all the pink I can… and I actually drew the logo that’s on the front. I wanted it to be more like handwritten style,” Thompson decided to put “Lippy” on the front of the jerseys instead of “Lipscomb” or “Bisons.” The jerseys are the first jerseys in Lipscomb athletics to bear the newer phrase “Lippy.”

Besides just the pink, Thompson added other Dolly Parton elements, especially by the Lippy logo. She added “the little butterfly, which is obviously like part of the Dolly logo, something that she uses a lot in her brand. And then also, a few little like, sparkles, rhinestones on the edge cause my life in rhinestones,” Thompson smiled. “[The rhinestones] were… drawn as part of the logo. There was talk about maybe trying to get them bedazzled, but I don’t know if it would have worked for the girls cause, you know, as you’re playing basketball, you don’t want little rhinestones falling off and stuff, but it would have been cool.”

The jerseys also have a butterfly on the shorts and a lighter pink up the sides of the shorts and the jerseys. The jerseys were first announced on Instagram, with graduate student Guard Jalyn Holcomb and assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Sydney Shelton modeling the jerseys for a surprise reveal for the rest of the team.

“I think they wanted to keep it a surprise for all the girls,” said Holcomb in an interview with Herd Media. “We really had no clue… The first time we heard about it… [athletics] put out that it was a Dolly Parton [collaboration], and when we saw that everybody was excited. We were like this is so cool, that Dolly Parton is gonna do it! And I know a bunch of my teammates like, some of them like Dolly Parton, like Molly loves Dolly Parton, and so we were all like oh my gosh!”

“It’s kind of like my two worlds colliding, like design and athletics,” Thompson said with a smile. The jerseys are the first piece Thompson has designed to be “real” and released and worn by other people. “I was super pumped to see them in real life. Cause, you know, it’s something that I think we started back in September and to finally see them being worn was a really cool thing.”

Thompson was thankful to have been such a part of the experience and the creation of the jerseys. “It was a really, really cool experience… And for anything to be even associated with Dolly Parton. She’s awesome and such a superstar and great influence just in the world. I’m just really grateful to be a part of it,” she added. “The pink aspect was so fun, cause like, in Lipscomb Athletics, it’s a lot of purple and gold. So just to see the pink for the first time was a lot of fun. But also, like as an athlete, you want to wear something that you feel confident and you feel cool in when you play. When you feel cool dress-wise, I feel like it just kind of elevates the level of what you play. [So] I wanted it to be something that the girls were excited to wear.”

“I really like the color,” Holcomb said with a smile. “I think that the pink wasn’t too washed out and it wasn’t too bright. I just thought it was a perfect little light, cute pink. I really love the color, I think that was my favorite part about the jerseys… [They’re also] very like loose fitting and very thin so I like that about them. And I thought the Lippy was pretty cool cause that’s kind of a new thing that we’ve started around the athletic department. So I thought that was pretty cool. And I [just] love the color of the pink. I [think] it’s very pretty.”

The Lady Bisons wore their new jerseys for the first time during their game versus the University of North Florida on Feb. 10. It turned into more than just a debut game for the jerseys however, when junior Guard Claira McGowan shattered the program’s NCAA Division-I scoring record for a single game. McGowan scored an incredible 37 points, along with snagging nine rebounds for the team, marking her third time shooting over 20 points in her career.

McGowan during the February debut game. Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics.

“There’s a lot of colleges and institutions… that have a pink jersey to wear during February… or during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and since I’ve been here we’ve never had something like that,” Holcomb said. Now, thanks to a collaboration with Dolly Parton to create the Dolly-inspired jerseys, the Lady Bisons do, in fact, have their own pink jerseys.

Feature photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics.