The Day – Local merchandise partnership to benefit Norwich Tech sports teams

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Norwich — There will be a new merchandise table set up at Tuesday’s senior night boys’ basketball game at Norwich Tech, signaling the start of a partnership between a local entrepreneurial company and the school’s sports teams.

Other Worldly LLC, a Norwich-based streetwear apparel company started last summer by Norwich Free Academy alumni star athletes Ibo Rivera and Tuzar Skipper, will create new Norwich Tech apparel first as a fundraiser for the boys’ basketball team and later for other Tech school sports.

With approval granted last week by the Parent Faculty Organization, the partnership will launch Tuesday with free T-shirts flung into the crowd at the boys’ basketball senior night game vs. Goodwin Tech at 6:30 p.m. A merchandise table at the game will offer the apparel company’s first Norwich Tech short-sleeve and long-sleeve shirts and sweatshirts for sale.

The first designs, created by Rivera and Skipper, feature the school’s gold lettering on blue shirts and gray sweatshirts. In spring, Other Worldly will ask Norwich Tech students to try their hands in a T-shirt design contest. The winner will receive a $500 gift certificate to spend at Other Worldly’s website, otherworldlyus.shop.

The new partnership has its roots next door at Norwich’s Kelly Middle School, where Rivera, Skipper and current Norwich Tech boys’ basketball coach Muhammed Hasan attended school and later where Rivera and Hasan coached.

Hasan also is a big fan of the Other Worldly merchandise, which includes dozens of T-shirts, long-sleeve shirts and hoodies in designs ranging from flowery to hard rock, anime and celebrity images. Hasan sported the Other Worldly Muhammed Ali “Legends Never Die” shirt at the boys’ basketball practice last week, when he discussed the new merchandise partnership.

Not connected with the Norwich Tech arrangement, Other Worldly will have a popup retail shop Saturday, Feb. 26, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Main Plug, a shop at 235 Main St., Norwich. Popular and new designs will be for sale that day, Rivera said.

In the Norwich Tech agreement, Other Worldly will provide the merchandise at wholesale cost to the school, which will set the retail prices, sell the items and keep the proceeds, Rivera said. Some designs will be sold at games or in the school store, while shoppers also can buy Norwich Tech items on the Other Worldly website.

“I think we’ll have different kinds of merchandise through the year,” Hasan said. “We’ll keep designs consistent, Norwich Tech logos, but we might transition into sport-specific designs. Hopefully, the whole athletic department will be involved.”

Hasan said the money will be used for travel expenses, equipment purchases, warmups and visits to colleges.

Sandra Spedaliere, vice president of the Parent Faculty Organization, said the PFO will control the funds from the partnership sales. Because Norwich Tech is a state school, all fundraising must go through the organization. Each sports team has its own bucket of money at the PFO, which also approves spending requests for the money.

“We have the sports gear shop, but people can order online too,” Spedaliere said. “Nobody makes any money on this. And this company is local. They’re staying in town.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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