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Oklahoma Native American High School Track To Be Dedicated Friday

Submitted by: Nike Inc.

Categories: Community Development

Posted: Nov 20, 2002 – 11:00 PM EST


As Part of its Drive to Inspire Youth Physical Activity, Nike Provides $50,000 Contribution To Help Refurbish Oklahoma's Sequoyah High School Track

Nov. 20 /CSRwire/ - BEAVERTON, OR Nike employees from Beaverton, Ore., will travel to Tahlequah, Okla., to join Cherokee tribal leaders, school administrators and community members tomorrow (Friday) to help dedicate the new running track facilities at Sequoyah High School. Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation.

Nike made a $50,000 grant, through its Nike's Bowerman Track Program, to help refurbish the track. The Bowerman program is part of the company's ongoing efforts to increase physical activity among youth - and give them the means to do it*.

Dedication ceremonies for the track facilities will occur this Friday, Nov. 22, 2002 beginning at 1:30 p.m.. CST with a dedication ceremony led by school administrators, an address by Nike's Geoff Hollister, and inaugural 1-mile runs on the new track by boys, girls and adults from across Oklahoma.

Sequoyah High School was started by the Cherokee Nation for Cherokee orphans of the Civil War in 1872. It is a residential boarding school serving more than 330 students of Native American descent and is renowned for its cross-country running program. Sequoyah is one of eight Off-Reservation boarding schools administered by the United States Office of Indian Education, which supervises 187 schools for Native Americans nationally. The 330 students attending the school represent 24 federally recognized tribes from 10 states.

The high school, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Nike have partnered in a $262,000 project to refurbish the school's existing track, resurfacing with a rubberized surface, adding curbs and a solid base, and adding long jump, pole vault and high jump. The old asphalt track was based on yards instead of meters and was unsafe and unsightly -- weather had eroded the edges of the track, grass intruding on the lines since there was no curbing, and sizable cracks.

The facility will be used by students and the entire surrounding community. The school will host track meets for area feeder schools, and a local elementary school will also use the facilities.

"The availability of these facilities will give Native American students an opportunity to use the inherent athletic skills they possess, and a quality facility to display them," said Anthony Pivec, Sequoyah superintendent. "The expected increase in student pride will carryover into their academic and social endeavors. The skills and experiences will be available for enjoyment for a lifetime. Adults, teachers and staff will be able to use the track for physical fitness."

Sequoyah's track program is one of legends. The schools runners have held six State Championships and seven runner-ups. Track coach Sam Horsechief has coached 55 cross-country and track All Staters. His assistant, James Nells, coaches at nearby Bacone College, which ranks 11th in the nation in cross-country. Both are coaches for the Native American running group, WINGS of America**, and last year Sequoyah won the WINGS National Championship.

"We are proud to partner with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on this project at Sequoyah High School and honored to be working with the Cherokee Nation," said Bob Speltz, Nike's Global Community Affairs Manager. "We're pleased that the Bowerman Track Renovation Program continues to help improve young runners' experiences in the sport of track and field."

The Bowerman Track Program: Was begun in 1999 as a tribute to legendary Oregon running coach Bill Bowerman for his lifetime contribution to the sport of running. Bowerman was the University of Oregon track coach from 1949-1972; co-founded Nike; revolutionized the running shoe; turned the college town of Eugene, Oregon, into the running capital of the world; and introduced to the US the importance of jogging and fitness. The Bowerman Track Renovation Program provides matching cash grants to community-based, youth-oriented organizations that seek to refurbish or construct running tracks. Nike is contributing $1 million to the Bowerman Track Renovation Program for the refurbishment or construction or youth-oriented track and field facilities worldwide.

Sequoyah High is one of 15 recipients of Bowerman Track Renovation Program grants. Oregon schools in Bend, Boardman, Canby, Colton, Coos Bay, Culver, Klamath Falls, Rogue River and Stayton have received Bowerman Program grants. Recipients nationwide include Aptos, Calif., Battle Ground, Washington; Culver City, California; Kansas City, Kansas and Willingboro, N.J.

Diabetes and Native Americans: Cherokee Nation is also leading the way in the fight against diabetes by helping area schools develop healthy curriculum, equip fitness centers, and funding student activities that promote healthy lifestyles. During the summer of 2002, 17 schools received grants from the Cherokee Nation totaling $1 million. The largest grant of $148,787 was given to Kansas Public Schools for renovations to a building for a health center, fitness equipment, a the resurfacing/lighting of their track. Other recipients were, Sequoyah, Stilwell, Watts, Greasy, Bell, Rocky Mountain, Dahlonegah, Marietta, Jay, Kenwood, Locust Grove, Warner, Marble City, Tenkiller, Briggs, and Leach Schools.

In 2000, Nike began Native American Diabetes Prevention Program. Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions among Native Americans. Prevalence of type-2 diabetes among Native Americans in the U.S. is 12.2 percent for those over 19 years of age, with an 80-percent increase in type-2 diabetes in children and young adults. Working closely with the diabetes program coordinators of some 60 tribal agencies, Nike provides product for their fitness promotion programs and partners with these tribes to provide mentoring and recreational events for the tribal population. In 2002 Nike employee Sam McCracken, a member of the a member of the Ft. Peck tribes (Sioux and Assiniboine tribes) in northeastern Montana, and the company won a national award honoring Sam's work with Native Americans and the fight against diabetes, at the fourth annual National Congress of American Indians Leadership Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C. McCracken will attend Friday's dedication ceremony in Tahlequah.

**WINGS of America: Nike is also a sponsor of WINGS of America, a youth development program aimed at American Indian youth across the United States and Canada. At WINGS, running serves as a vehicle for leadership, self-esteem, wellness and cultural pride among youths from five to 14-years-of-age. Sequoyah High School Track and Cross-Country Coaches Sam Horsechief and James Nells have been actively involved with the WINGS program for nearly 5 years as they have coached regional and national WINGS teams, with Nells winning the national championship in 2001.

With the help of Horsechief and Nells, Sequoyah has hosted a WINGS summer camp, helped identify promising Native American youth runners and encouraged them to join the National WINGS program. Additionally, Nells and Horsechief have distributed shoes, uniforms, and Nike's Track-in-a-Box to area schools and communities on behalf of WINGS and NIKE. WINGS has a ten-year relationship with Nike, based on their shared belief in running as a positive force.

In 2002, WINGS received cash and product support valued at more than $349,000. Geoff Hollister, who will speak on Friday, ran under Bill Bowerman at the University of Oregon and coached the early jogging program in Eugene. As an early Nike pioneer, he founded the Nike OTC Marathon, initiated the Athletic West Club, and operated Nike's Olympic Track & Field for over 12 years. Still committed to Nike, and serves on four non-profit organizations as board members, including WINGS of America.

Cherokee Nation also operates a similar program for the Cherokee community youth and adults alike called Wings Fitness. In this program, members can earn points for running, walking, working out, eat healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables daily, or by reading health related articles. By accumulating points, participants can earn, shoes, watches, hats, socks, wind suits, and other products. Additionally, Wings Fitness will sponsor runners to enter monthly running/walking events such as the Tulsa Run, Full Moon Classic, or the Oklahoma City Marathon.

*NikeGO: To encourage and enable kids to lead healthy, active lives, Nike has developed NikeGO, a grassroots community affairs program with a mission to increase physical activity in youth. NikeGO offers thousands of kids the motivation to discover the joy of movement and physical activity. For more information about NikeGO, visit

Based in Beaverton, Oregon, NIKE, Inc., is the world's leading designer and marketer of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities.

For more information, please contact:

Lee Weinstein Nike, Inc.
Phone: 503-671-3080


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