March 30, 2023 11:37 am


Before it was revealed on a larger platform last Thursday, Lindsay Huff knew that University of Virginia linebacker Nick Jackson loved sushi and drove a GMC truck. She knew that UVA quarterback Brennan Armstrong was a big fan of the Cedar Point amusement park in his home state of Ohio. And she knew that Cavalier receiver/running back Keytaon Thompson goes by the nickname “Trick Bag.”

It should be noted that Huff, who graduated from UVA in 2021 with an architecture degree, has never met any of these football players who represented the Wahoos during last week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Kickoff media event in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But she did design the crowd-pleasing custom sneakers they wore Thursday, which reflected those very personal interests and traits.

“I don’t know these guys personally,” Huff said, “but I feel like I got to know all of them through what was shared with me about what design ideas they had. I hope that each pair reflects their personalities and their backgrounds and what they love.”

The ACC Kickoff is an annual gathering of coaches and selected players from around the conference that helps preview the upcoming season with on-site media members. While football is always the main topic, fashion can also creep into the conversation as players and coaches arrive at the event in their most trendy formal wear.

Jim Daves, UVA’s veteran assistant athletics director for athletics communications, had wanted to spice up the Cavaliers’ presence in Charlotte this year since early May, when he was first presented an image of Huff’s work.

Lindsay Huff leans against a wall and smiles at the cameraUVA alumna Lindsay Huff is a professional artist who added custom shoes to her repertoire last fall at the suggestion of her husband Jay, a former Wahoo basketball player. (Contributed photo)

Huff is a professional artist and the wife of former UVA basketball player Jay Huff. She’s also friends with UVA fan blogger – and recent Darden School of Business graduate – Caroline Darney, who put Huff on Daves’ radar.

“Caroline shows me these shoes on her phone that Lindsay Huff has painted,” Daves said. “And I was like, ‘That’s really cool!’”

Around the same time, the UVA football Twitter account had posted a video that showed off the stylish sides of new head football coach Tony Elliott, receivers coach Marques Hagans and athletics director Carla Williams.

It all got Daves to wonder about the possibility of teaming up with Huff to create some sneakers for the Hoos to wear at ACC Kickoff.

“I just thought it would be really fun,” Daves said.

A couple emails later and the bulk order was in. Huff was commissioned to design seven pairs of shoes, four of which were for the UVA contingent headed to ACC Kickoff – Elliott, Armstrong, Jackson and Thompson – plus one for Williams and the other two for Wes Durham and Mark Packer, the headliners of the now-defunct ACC Network show, “Packer and Durham,” which ended July 1.

Huff’s website is a peek into the breadth of her work and what she can offer customers. There’s everything from picturesque canvas art to watercolor paintings to colored pencil drawings. She added “custom shoes” to her repertoire last fall at the suggestion of her husband, who asked her to try painting a pair of his white Air Jordans.

“It turned out better than I expected,” Huff said. “It was a lot of fun.

“I had already started my art business and had an Instagram page for my art, so I just kind of added that as a post. I did a pair for myself, too. We did a little photoshoot on the Culbreth Garage in Charlottesville. And then we started advertising that I do custom shoes because of how much I loved it, even after doing just two pairs.

“From there, I honestly wasn’t sure which direction it would take – and it was way more popular than I thought it would be.”

Customers usually buy the shoes and then send them to Huff for design. The design prices range from $200 to $450, depending on the type of shoe and complexity of the art.

For the UVA football order, Daves gathered details from Elliott and the players on what they would want on their white Air Force 1 Nikes and then relayed the information to Huff. She worked on them in a variety of hotel rooms along the West Coast as Jay Huff, a member of the Los Angeles Lakers organization, participated in the NBA’s Summer League.

“Los Angeles, then to San Francisco, then to Las Vegas and then back to Virginia,” Lindsay Huff said. “These shoes have been on four different flights.”

Daves, who picked the shoes up and delivered them to Charlotte, appreciated the dedication.

“The shoes are a reflection of the history of the individual and also their role at UVA,” he said. “She did a fantastic job of knocking these out.”

While each individual’s pair of shoes had their own personal touches, they all featured a diamond pattern to represent the Scott Stadium’s signature end zone designs.

Huff was at her family’s home in Ruckersville last Thursday when the ACC Kickoff shoes first hit social media. She was flooded with around 30 requests in less than 24 hours. The more people saw what was on the feet of the Wahoos in Charlotte, the more they wanted to know how to get a pair of their own.

“I was on Instagram a lot, answering direct messages from various people,” Huff said. “Some were actually in Charlotte; others just saw the shoes posted on Instagram, and some were just watching the media day coverage on ACC Network.

“I think it’s safe to say I’ll be a little busy the next couple weeks. But it’s exciting.”

Daves said the reaction in Charlotte exceed his expectations.

“I kept looking around and seeing the guys as people were taking pictures of them and talking about them,” Daves said. “It was fun. And that’s all we wanted to do. We wanted to have some fun. We wanted to say, ‘Hey, we’re Virginia. We’re going to have some fun here. We’re going to get our name out there a little bit.’

“And I think we accomplished that.”

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