The La Jolla Reservation, is situated northeast of San Diego at the base of Palomar Mountain. In October of 2007, the reservation was devastated by the Poomacha fires. More than 90% of the reservation burned, and recreation and sports facilities were damaged or fell into disrepair. The new basketball court is the centerpiece of La Jolla’s new community park, which also includes a softball field.
“Nike N7 exists to create access to sport for Native American and Aboriginal youth, and this basketball court here at La Jolla reflects that commitment,” said Sam McCracken, General Manager of the Nike N7 program in North America, at a ceremony where the court was unveiled. “We are proud to bring the first Nike N7 basketball court to the La Jolla Reservation. Thanks to all of our partners here today, we are able to provide ongoing access to sport for the La Jolla community.”
“We are proud of our tribe and its members, and grateful for the partnership of Nike N7 and LA84 in bringing this amazing basketball court to our reservation,” said La Jolla Tribal Chair LaVonne Peck at the ceremony. “The La Jolla basketball court has already become the gathering place and safe haven for La Jolla’s youth and we look forward to sharing this gift with members of area tribes as we bring Inter Tribal Sports’ youth basketball league games to La Jolla for the first time.”
The LA84 Foundation was created to manage Southern California’s share of the huge surplus from the highly successful 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. This amounted to a whopping $93 million that was funneled to the foundation at its inception. Since LA84 began operations in 1985, it has invested nearly $200 million in sports programs serving more than two and a half million youth in the eight Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura.
Inter Tribal Sports (ITS) is a non-profit organization that “unifies tribal youth and communities in Southern California through structured athletic programs, has supported La Jolla youth for more than eight years through its area youth basketball league. ITS is a recipient of a 2010 Nike N7 grant and was an instrumental partner in bringing the new basketball court to youth in the La Jolla community,” a press release from Nike stated.
After the ceremony, slam-dunk superstar and NABI (Native American Basketball Invitational), Foundation ambassador Kenny Dobbs spoke to more than 100 kids between the ages of 6 and 18 from the La Jolla and other neighboring tribes who will benefit from the new court through their Inter Tribal Sports league games. Dobbs, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, recently competed in the Amateur Slam Dunk Contest for NBA All-Star weekend. At a mere 6’3″, his abilities on the court are only matched by his commitment to giving back to the Native American community.
As for the actual court, it is a Rebound Ace surface that uses Nike Grind, a raw material created from the recycling of athletic shoes collected through Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program and the recycling of scrap materials left over from the manufacture of Nike product. “Nike Grind is a premium grade recycled material, not only because it is identical to first generation raw materials used in manufacturing synthetic sports surfaces, but also because it is born from the athlete’s own equipment. The Nike Grind material in the first Nike N7 all-weather, outdoor basketball court at La Jolla is the equivalent of material from more than 2,500 pairs of shoes,” the Nike press release stated.
Nike N7 has been working with American Indian and Aboriginal communities since it was created more than 10 years ago. N7’s goal is to provide access and support for sports programs to encourage physically active lifestyles through Indian country.