Long Beach’s best-known powerhouse sports program has come back home to the country’s powerhouse sports company, as Long Beach Poly football is officially a Nike school once again.
The Jackrabbits were a Nike school for years during the late 90s and early 2000s, but signed with Oakley in the 2000s and then with adidas a decade ago after getting superior deals with those companies. Seeing Poly in Oakley and adidas uniforms always rubbed some Long Beach sports fans the wrong way.
Paul Slater was the captain of the Millikan football team in 2009, the last time Poly lost on the field to a local program. “Adidas and Oakley are underdog companies and there’s nothing underdog about Poly football,” Slater was fond of saying in recent seasons.
Well, the top dog is back with the top dog. The Jackrabbits signed a five-year deal with Nike this summer that head coach Stephen Barbee said was by far the most generous offer the school had on the table. Nike sponsored Poly’s football camp last Friday and provided free t-shirts to all the campers and also provided the free shirts that all the Moore League athletes got at this year’s Milk Bowl at Poly.
“Just talking with the Nike team and what they were able to bring to the table is what has us so excited,” said Barbee. “They’re an incredible brand and we’re just really excited to be tied into the Nike football family.”
As part of the deal, the Jackrabbits will have multiple sets of new uniforms and a new helmet this year. While the school hasn’t unveiled the new looks yet, they’re expected to feature a more classic “Vegas gold” rather than the brighter yellow that adidas had used, harkening back to the program’s earlier days. Vegas gold was the color used by the Jackrabbits during their Nike heyday in the 90s and 2000s, and fans can expect to see them matched with both green and gray uniforms.
This has been a summer of optimism around 1600 Atlantic, as they’ve seen major gains by their young core, including an impressive semifinal finish at the Edison Battle of the Beach. In addition to the new Nike deal, Poly has a new stadium as the campus’ new bleachers are now open along with the turf field and all-weather track that was rolled out earlier in the year. Perhaps just as significant, Poly’s field now has stadium lights for the first time, allowing them to actually practice and host lower level football games in the evening for the first time.
“‘Excited’ is the word for everything going on over here right now,” said Barbee, whose program once again got a marquee freshman class in to follow last year’s frosh squad, which went undefeated. “It’s about the work and not the uniforms, but we’re glad to have some new looks coming out in the Fall as well.”