Athletics sport new uniforms after inking partnership with Nike

East Grand Rapids has always been one of the premier athletic programs in the state of Michigan. The school has won 147 state championships, the most of any high school in Michigan. With this continued success comes a well-known athletic program throughout the state. However, unlike many high schools, East has never worn a consistent brand across its teams. This changed this year, when the athletic department and Mr. Zylstra, our EGR Athletic Director, signed a jersey deal with Nike. 

“Essentially, we wanted to sign an apparel deal so that we have a unified look as a school. When you look at different brands, there’s different shades of navy and gold. When you become one-brand affiliated we get a common look,” Zylstra said. 

By signing the deal, East will look consistent across the different teams. 

“As we move forward, we want to continue to expand with a strategic plan with the logos we want to use. That way, the ‘Block E’ is always used the same way, the ‘Pioneers’ is always used the same way, and ‘East’ is always going to look the same,” Zylstra said. 

Most of the sports teams at East are under the partnership. 

“Sports that are included are football, baseball, basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, softball, track, and volleyball,” Zylstra said. “The non-qualifying sports under the agreement that we still want them to be wearing the Nike product are golf, ski, swim and dive, tennis, wrestling, crew, field hockey, sailing, and water polo.”

Another big driver for the decision to partner with an athletic brand was building the school’s relationship with the community in East Grand Rapids. 

“I think that it’s very important for our community so when people see that, they know that it’s East Grand Rapids. We always want to be presented in the same way,” Zylstra said.

Luckily, for the athletes that prefer to wear things like cleats or pads that are not Nike, they can wear other brands for that gear. 

“Only on-field uniforms [are affected]. That’s the only thing we have to be in Nike within the next four years. It doesn’t affect things like player footwear or hats for baseball,” Zylstra said. 

The new deal has brought excitement to the athletes at East as well. Peter Heintz ‘24 plays for the East football team and basketball team and is excited about the new deal. 

“I’m excited. I think we’re gonna be looking sharp out there on the field and I think it’s gonna be a really cool improvement next season,” Heintz said. “The basketball team got new jerseys this season. I think we look pretty cool out there, so I’m excited for all sports to get new opportunities with jerseys.”

After wearing Under Armour jerseys for many years, the football team will be wearing Nike next fall. 

“I was able to see a picture of the football jerseys as well and I think they look really sweet,” Heintz said. 

Luckily for the student-athletes at EGR, Zylstra and the athletic department view the teams here at East as a high level athletic program. 

“We like to think of EGR as a mini-college and anytime we can do things like a college is when we can enhance the experience of our student-athletes here,” Zylstra said.