Last month, Nike launched their ‘Sport Changes Everything’ campaign, encouraging communities across the country to become more active so that they can lead healthier, happier and more successful lives. In Chicago, this campaign kicked off with Go Play Day, where children were able to interact with Nike athletes and participate in a variety of activities like basketball, football, and dancing.
Nike has continued this campaign with various activations throughout the summer, one of which was created specifically for girls. Today’s generation of kids are the least active in history, with girls moving even less than boys. Nike and the Chicago Park District are helping to combat this with a girls-only sports camp, which started on August 5th and is currently running until August 9th.
With the help of Nike athletes, Nike’s Girls Camp is exposing young women to a variety of sports as well as health and wellness lessons aimed to increase confidence and build lifelong skills. We stopped by Grand Crossing Park on Tuesday morning to see the camp in action. We caught ESPN’s Brooke Weisbrod and two-time WNBA champion Cappie Pondexter giving an inspirational message to the girls before leading them in basketball drills.
We sat down with Cappie Pondexter to talk about her community outreach efforts, as well as her role in fashion. Check out the interview below.
MN: How much has changed in terms of opportunities for girls who are interested in basketball since you were a kid?
Cappie: When I first started playing at the age of ten, honestly there wasn’t a lot of camps around, there wasn’t a lot of activations, specifically for young girls because I don’t think the interest in basketball was that high yet. Now you have so many young ladies that are actually interested in playing the game of basketball that there’s camps run by former players, players that are still active, you got AA Basketball, it’s so much that’s going on. The Junior NBA has done a great job of implementing these programs so young ladies not just here in the United States but all over can play basketball. So it’s growing.
MN: Was there any camps for you in your neighborhood growing up or did you have to travel?
Cappie: I definitely had to travel. I grew up on the West Side of Chicago, so I had to travel all the way to the South Side to even like participate with my coach. She would come get us at a specific time and then we would be with her the whole day.
MN: Nike has been releasing a lot of cool sneakers, both active and lifestyle, in women’s sizing. What impact do you think that has in getting women more involved in sports and sneakers in general?
Cappie: I think it plays a huge role, because when you go into a store and see all these live things showcasing women it gives young ladies [the idea that], “Ok, maybe I can be like her”. It gives her confidence to know that she has her own space. There’s women’s basketball, women’s sport, and women’s lifestyle, the same as there is for men. There’s options and I think that’s encouraging too.
Cappie: I like streetwear style. So, obviously Virgil did a great job with his whole run with Nike. I’m still big on those. Besides those there’s a lot of different ones that I really enjoy, like Rox Brown put out a pair of Jordan 1s and Air Force 1s. That’s a friend I grew up with in New York so to be able to see her come from that to be able to create her own sneaker is inspiring to me.
MN: Is there anyone who influenced your style and the way you dress?
Cappie: It was probably Aaliyah and Immature, like those individuals from the 90s, obviously Jordan too played a huge role, but for me the 90s — whether it was a movie or a commercial — anything from the 90s inspired me because it was a cool era that was all about fashion and color. In the 90s everything was so colorful and impactful, it’s just a time that sticks out for me.
MN: Now that you’re retired from the WNBA, are you looking to get more involved in helping out the community with events like this or more fashion type of stuff?
Cappie: Both! You saw me at the NikeLab event with Virgil, that was a way of giving back too. Virgil’s platform is a lot bigger than mine, but he’s creating something where people can go to and create and it’s still a community event. Right here, we’re using basketball as a way to give back. The girls here they just started playing basketball, they did drills and they had fun. That’s all it’s about, having fun and giving them the opportunity to figure out what they want to do. We don’t want to make decisions for them right, cause some will be interested in basketball and some won’t, but at least we have this community event so that they can experience it, and I think that is the key.
To check out the rest of the Sport Changes Everything campaign in Chicago visit nike.com/chicago.