Graphic by Maisie Arlotto
The varsity boys and girls basketball teams at Wilson have become the first and only Wilson athletics teams to be sponsored by Nike, leading them both to earn the “Nike Elite team” status, and a banner signifying it in the gym.
While athletic sponsorships began as something mostly limited to college and professional teams, athletic apparel brands have since expanded their sponsorships to select high school teams. Sponsorships are a prestigious status for any high school team to earn. Some other schools in the DMV area have also received sponsorships: DeMatha Catholic High School was sponsored by Nike, and their basketball still is while the rest of the school is sponsored by Under Armour, and St. John’s College High School is sponsored by Under Armour. Wilson, however, is only one of two schools in the area where both the male and female program are sponsored, the other (and first) program is Paul VI Catholic High School according to Athletic Director Nadira Ricks.
Nike began sponsoring Wilson basketball this year. “It was kind of a mutual thing, when they reached out, [and took] notice to our program” explained boys basketball head coach Angelo Hernandez. Hernandez said that the sponsorship has thus far affected the team positively. The basic terms of the contract with Wilson entail Nike supplying the boys and girls varsity teams with a certain amount of gear including uniforms, socks, shoes, backpacks, and sweatsuits. Besides the obvious benefit of receiving free sportswear from one of the most popular brands in the world, Hernandez added how Wilson also benefits from “the school [getting] more acknowledgment.”
According to Hernandez, “when people look at schools with sponsorships they’re like ‘oh that’s one of the sponsor’s schools for basketball,’ and they look at it as a benefit to play for a Nike program,” implying that it represents the elite level of their team and attracts attention from prospects, scouts, and coaches nationwide. In turn, Nike holds exclusivity over the Wilson basketball teams. Ricks explained, “We can only wear Nike during the season, we can’t wear any other brand.”
Wilson Tiger basketball players now represent Nike during practices, at home and away games, and at tournaments, presenting the benefit of brand exposure to Nike. The basketball teams can now be recognized for not only their level of play, but also their fresh kits.