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Nike kicks off summer with reunion of local student athletes

By the end of June, it’s safe to say most students will be well on their way to enjoying some kind of summer vacation. For many, that may include attending a family reunion, working or summer camp. This year, Nike decided student athletes deserved a reunion of their own.

On June 30, more than 500 Chicagoland high school basketball athletes converged on the Loyola University Chicago (East Quad) campus on west Sheridan Road to experience a connection with fellow athletes without the competitiveness of the playing season. It was a creative endeavor on the part of Nike – another “Just Do It” call to action for a new generation that would be both fun and inspiring.

One by one busloads of basketball teams arrived, along with their coaches, to an outdoor event reminiscent of a traditional family picnic complete with the cookout and games. Students came from Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Kenwood Academy, Simeon Career Academy, Marshall Metropolitan High School, Morgan Park High School, Perspectives Charter School and Whitney Young High School.

They all came to kick off the summer at Nike’s Family Reunion – an experience designed to instill belief, bring inspiration and get student athletes started on their personal journeys.

The games were of course, all basketball-inspired and; although the food was supplied by local food trucks, the menu was very traditional. The South Shore Drill Team warmed the crowd up before the panel discussion and music was a constant.

The highlight of the day was the panel discussion Nike hosted featuring six-time NBA Championship winner and former Chicago Bulls player Scottie Pippen, WNBA Chicago Sky Players Allie Quigley, Stefanie Dolson, Courtney Vandersloot, Gabby Williams and Loyola University’s Donte Ingram, who attended Simeon Career Academy before Loyola and now plays for the NBA Chicago Bulls.

To visually inspire the youth a “Legacy of Greatness” wall with state championship trophies, newspaper articles, winning team photos and jerseys was on display.  The real inspiration came from the basketball legends, pro athletes and various leaders from the sports community that also came out. Among the community leaders were Dorothy Gaters, Sonny Parker, and Lauren Foster.

The students, coaches and professional athletes in attendance agreed the Nike event had the right qualifications for a reunion. Most have competed against one another during the season. Many have attended various basketball camps and tournaments together—so they know one another. The Nike Family Reunion gave these students the opportunity to interact in a noncompetitive setting. Many said they are looking forward to a Nike Family Reunion next year.

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