I have so much to say about the Nike Young Athlete Innovation Summit that I almost don’t know where to start!
On Thursday, my daughter and I were flown from North Carolina to Portland, Oregon to meet with Nike team members, tour the Nike Campus, and learn more about the company. I have to say from the start that I was already a Nike fan simply because of the well-made products and cute colors (pink!) but never really thought much beyond that about what I was buying and wearing. Now that I’ve learned about how Nike designs, creates and tests their shoes, I can’t imagine ever wanting anything but Nike. They are the best, simply put.
When we arrived at the Nike Global Campus Friday morning, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My husband had told my that Nike had a huge campus in Beaverton, Oregon, but it was nothing like what I’d imagined. (The fact that my husband from N.C. already knew the location of the Nike Campus all the way across the country should tell you what a huge fan of Nike HE is.)
First off, the campus is gorgeous. From the Japanese Flower Gardens, to the wooden bridges over the protected wetland areas and the beautiful hand-crafted sculptures beside the ponds, the Nike campus looks more like a park than a company’s headquarters.
Throughout the day, as we moved from one location to another, we were struck by just how nice the campus is. The entire feel of Nike, in fact, was the same way. I’m certain that the Nike employees all work extremely hard at their jobs, but they didn’t seemed stressed. They all seemed truly happy to be there and, seeing what I saw yesterday, I can absolutely understand why.
Over the next few days, you’ll see several more posts from me about my trip to the Nike Campus, with lots of photos, videos and fun facts, but I want to just give a (not-so?) brief summary of what we saw at Nike.
While the blog moms and dads toured the campus and learned all about Nike, the kids went to a sort of Nike camp. To start the day, the children were all brought into the Kids’ Lounge and shown to a little locker area off to one side. My daughter quickly found the locker with her name on it and was amazed at all of the fun Nike goodies she found inside. She got hot pink Nike Free shoes and lots of cute pink and black clothes and couldn’t wait to try them on. As we said goodbye to the kids, she was running off with her counselor Kaitlyn to start a day of fun. (I was worried my daughter would not want me to leave her, but she RAN off with Kaitlyn and never looked back. )
The kids then spent the entire day having fun on the Nike Campus. They went rock wall-climbing and swimming, played ping pong and foosball, colored pictures, had some serious snacks and treats and learned a bit about Nike. My daughter got to meet Olympic runner Amy Yoder Begely and hear about Amy’s career. The kids also got to design their very own Nike ID shoes that will be delivered to them at home in a few days. My daughter hasn’t stopped telling me about the fun things she was able to do at Nike and I know this will be a trip that she’ll remember forever.
While the kids were having a blast with their counselors, the moms and dads got to learn about the amazing process that happens when a Nike shoe is created. From conception to production, there are so many different tests that the shoe goes through to make it the best that it can be. Nike wants their shoes to help athletes do their absolute best and since a pair of shoes might mean the difference between the gold medal and the silver, Nike understands that it’s crucial to make the best shoe possible.
Besides the different tests we were told about, we were also lucky enought to see a few of the top-secret tests they do in the Nike Sport Research Lab. The kids were able to run through a few of the tests while we watched and it was impressive to see how much data Nike collected on every aspect of the foot, motion of the foot, pressure on different areas of the foot, etc.
All of that data, along with hundreds of other studies by Nike helped them create the Nike Free shoes. The Nike Free shoes were created to mimic barefoot walking, allowing the athlete to feel the ground more easily which increases strength, flexibility and balance. All of these benefits help athletes perform better.
Not only are the Nike Free Shoes amazing to walk in, but they’re made in so many cool colors too!
The studies at Nike don’t just help professional athletes. The Nike company was created with the philosophy that “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” From the tiniest of toddling babies just learning to walk all the way up to adults who are past their prime and maybe even nursing old injuries, Nike considers the needs of all of us.
I’ve never thought about it before, but we were told that a lot of shoe companies don’t like to make shoes for small children. The bio-mechanics of children’s feet are radically different from adults’ and many companies don’t want to figure out how to make proper shoes for them. Many companies that do make adults’ and children’s shoes simply make smaller versions of the adult shoes for the children. Nike doesn’t do this. Their children’s shoes have been created based on studies specifically done on children throughout all of the stages of growth. From the awkward toe walking of a new baby walker up through an active teenager, there are many different needs. Nike makes sure their children’s shoes address those needs.
I’m on my way back home to North Carolina from Oregon now, so I’m going to stop here. I have soooo many more exciting things to share about the Nike Young Athlete Innovation Summit though, and will be posting them in the next couple of days.
For now, I’ll end the post by saying that I’ve never been more impressed with a company before. Not because of the frills and the amazing gifts and the unbelievable trip, although they were all truly awesome, but because of the work, the heart and soul that Nike employees put into a shoe. It’s above and beyond what I ever imagined and I can easily see now why Nike is the best.
So stay tuned! I’ll be back in a couple of days with lots of great photos, stories and cool Nike facts!