–By Ottawa Sportspage, for Louis-Riel Rebelles
The Florida Gators, the Oregon Ducks, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the Canadian/U.S. track-and-field team, FC Barcelona, and… the Louis-Riel Rebelles.
Thanks to a newly-established partnership to become Ottawa’s flagship school for the Nike Team program, Rebelles athletes will soon be sporting the same type of uniforms and gear as many of the sports world’s heavyweights.
“This is a program typically more reserved for the university level,” signals Nike brand manager Ryan Denholm, noting Louis-Riel is one of the first Canadian high schools to be offered such an opportunity. “It’s still meant to be very limited and very special. We’re not going door to door and saying, ‘Who wants to be on board?’ It’s very strategic, and we couldn’t be happier to have Louis-Riel as one of our first ones.”
To help schools with budget restrictions, the Nike Team program offers their gear at discounted rates and provides some free products that the school or athletes may have had to buy themselves otherwise. The benefit for Nike, Denholm explains, is that the Rebelles are “what we call an ‘influencer.’”
“We are an athlete-driven company and we want to see people in our product,” he adds. “We feel that Louis-Riel athletes being in Nike will have an influence on the community.”
Louis-Riel was selected for the opportunity since the school is well-recognized regionally and across Ontario for its innovative sports-études program, its high-level soccer and basketball academies, plus its myriad of in-school activities such as a women’s fitness initiative called Active à Louis.
“We’re incredibly impressed. This is not your typical high school,” Denholm underlines. “We like doing things on a grand scale and here at Louis-Riel, they certainly do things on a grand scale, and we’re really happy to be a part of it.”
In May, Rebelles athletes got to try out many different types of Nike gear and selected their preferred styles, mirroring the Gators, Barcelona, and company.
“The kids are excited. The Nike brand is very powerful,” says Louis-Riel sports-études director Ken Levesque. “It’s a brand that’s very popular with students and adolescents. It’s new and it’s something not a lot of schools have in Canada. We feel really blessed that they approached us and feel we were a good fit for them. We’re really excited.”
The partnership with Nike, which will also include sponsorship of select events, buoys the “new wave” forming at Louis-Riel, Levesque adds. Set to build an expansion over the summer for its Grade 7-8 students, Louis-Riel is committed to further advancing its leading position as a pioneer of the sports-études concept through ongoing facility development, top-notch coaching and program support. Modernized black-and-red Rebelles and school logos will also be included on the new Nike uniforms starting this fall.
“We find it’s important for school spirit and for the kids to feel that they belong to the school,” Levesque indicates, and having everyone in the same high-quality gear helps promote a sense of togetherness. “The kids feel proud of what they do, and what they wear, and they’re proud to be a Rebelle.”