Only 60 high school football coaches from across the country were invited to the Nike Football Summit in Portland, Ore., this week. Only five will speak to the assembly; two of those are from Northwestern High School, head coach Kyle Richardson and speed and strength coach James West.
The pair were invited to speak about Northwestern’s Win Today ideals, which Richardson fully crystallized when he became the Trojans’ head coach in 2011. Richardson will speak to the group about Northwestern’s academic and practice plans, and West will talk about the speed and strength program.
“I think it’s a big deal for Rock Hill School District Three,” said Richardson. “They sent out this packet of stuff and beside our name it had ‘Northwestern High School, Rock Hill, S.C.,” and in quotations, ‘Football City, U.S.A.’”
Richardson and West left for Oregon on Sunday and will return home Thursday. Nike foots the entire bill for their trip and organizes everything, including flights, accommodations and a personal driver around the city.
“This isn’t typical for a high school coach,” said Richardson. “All we did was give our birth date, social security number, and it’s been pretty sweet.”
Northwestern’s football program is well treated by Nike.
The Trojan athletic department spends a certain amount of money each year with the uniform provider, which entitles it to discounted bulk prices. Because the Trojans are successful and a big-name program in the state, and even nationally, Nike gives them complimentary gear as well; Richardson estimated that his program received thousands of dollars worth of comped training gear last year. It’s a beneficial relationship for Northwestern, which has received that kind of treatment since 2010.
“Nike takes such good care of us,” said Richardson. “They’re constantly sending us gear for the kids and they do a really good job of taking care of us, whatever we need, just helping us with it.”
Northwestern’s relationship with the sports apparel giant has enabled it to preach its football program gospel in an elite setting this week. That stemmed from a Nike representative first visiting Northwestern for the 2010 ESPN game against South Pointe. He watched the program for two days and was impressed with what he saw. Now West and Richardson are out in rainy Oregon for four days.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to share our philosophy,” said West last Friday. “But also to get to interact with these other top programs, see what they’re doing, see what we can plug in that they’re doing better than us.”
The pillars of Win Today are posted on a sign next to Richardson’s desk in his office at the school. It’s a mantra that is used in every aspect of the Northwestern football student-athlete’s life.
“What we’re doing is kind of a seamless program across the board, integrating our academics, our school policy, our offseason program,” said West. “It just flows together as far as accountability, our tempo and our expectations. There really isn’t an off-time for the kids in that sense. We’re always relating it back to football and life.”
The trip to Oregon is especially neat for West, who is originally from California. He doesn’t get to attend the clinics that Richardson does during the spring, because that’s when West’s offseason strength and conditioning for the football team kicks into high gear. He’s especially excited about touring the facilities at the University of Oregon. Nike is completely ingrained in the fabric of the Ducks’ athletic program.
“Taj Mahal over there,” said West. “Walking through and seeing all that stuff they have that we don’t, and putting it on that big wish list. I’m super excited to go and represent Northwestern, and what we do here.”