Since 2020, Nike has been spotlighting the impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities on culture and style through their annual Yardrunners series, selecting past and present HBCU student athletes to be featured in the series, as well as utilizing alumni to bring the campaign to the masses. The Nike Yardrunners class is marking their fourth year in 2023 and the mission is the same–to celebrate HBCUs and their alumni with an emphasis on global sport. The Swoosh brand’s campaign theme this year is titled “Draft Day,” with the tag line being “Started on the Yard.”
Both the title and tag line represent the journey of Yardrunners from the incipient stages of developing their skills on the yard to expanding beyond the campaign and achieving great things in the real world. Something many student athletes do.
As mentioned, Nike partnered with HBCU alum for this rollout. For instance, journalist and personality Stephen A. Smith, who is also an HBCU alum, will do voice-over work for the campaign.
HBCU lovers and sneakerheads can also anticipate five new Terminator colorways later this year that are inspired by Morehouse College, Spelman College, Tuskegee University, Tennessee State University, and Alabama A&M University. All of the shoes in this rollout were co-createad by former Yardrunners. As for this year’s chosen Yardrunners, they include the following:
- Robert Covington, Tennessee State University & Professional NBA player (Clippers)
- Cameron Lide, Winston Salem State University, Founder of @HBCUDrip
- Jawaun Daniels, Praire View A&M University & Professional Basketball Player
- Foggie Raw, Bowie State University & Poet/Artist
- Javicia Leslie, Hampton University & Actress
- Danielle Stamper, Southern University & Dance Coach at TSU
- Melanie Mitchell, Florida A&M University & Comedian/Internet personality
- Lady London, Howard University & Dej Jam Artist
- Kayla White, North Carolina A&T University & USA Track Athlete
As mentioned, the Nike Yardrunner campaign kickstarted in 2020. It was originally created by HBCU graduates who were working at the brand.