Indianapolis sports gear company ready for busy times during NCAA tournament

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As college teams prepare to take the floor for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, a local T-shirt company is also gearing up for one of its busiest times of the year.

Homefield Apparel, located off East 65th Street near Binford Boulevard, prints sports gear for more than 100 universities.

A husband-and-wife duo started the company in their basement. Now, their team prints more than 500 shirts a day on average, sporting what they call “thoughtful designs.”

It started in 2016 when Connor and Christa Hitchcock made their first design after a devastating play for their alma mater.

If you remember the Pinstripe Bowl when Indiana played Duke, you know we line up for a field goal in overtime, we miss it, but it looks like it is good. We made a tongue-and-cheek shirt from really my basement where it just said, ‘The kick was good,'” said Connor Hitchcock, co-owner and chief executive officer of Homefield Apparel.

The popularity that shirt garnered for the duo led to both quitting their jobs in 2018 to launch Homefield Apparel with licenses for eight schools.

“I mean every order that is placed on our website, (the) invoice gets printed out here. The team either we have printed it in advance or the team prints it on-demand here and then they ship it all out,” Hitchcock said.

Now they are licensed for over 100 universities and plan to add more than 50 to their roster this year.

“We will dig through their archives, their history, to find moments that don’t just look cool on a shirt but have meaning,” Hitchcock said. “Whether it be a national championship or Final Four run or whatever.”

When sports took a seat on the bench during the coronavirus pandemic, Homefield had to get creative to keep business growing. He launched a social media campaign that catapulted their business.

“We had five team members to start the year prior to the pandemic, and we are over 20 now,” Hitchcock said.

As teams prepare to take the floor for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at six venues, all in Indiana, Homefield is preparing for an increase in orders for fan-favorite teams.

“So, we are gearing up for teams that are heavy favorites or, you know, like Loyola, they are an 8-seed but top 10 in KenPom, so you know there is a chance they could make a large run,” Hitchcock said.

Homefield Apparel ships orders nationwide and can also be found in some bookstores on campuses across the country.