The 16 honorees are thriving in sports like track, equestrian, cheerleading, basketball, and more!
There are HBCU students and alumni that have made history in almost every industry there is: music, technology, photography, engineering, dance, science, modeling, and so much more. Beginning in 2020, Nike set out to highlight these HBCU trailblazers by honoring the individuals who “run the yard” at their HBCU, through launching a “Nike Yardrunners” campaign. No matter what they set their minds to, the Yardrunners honorees are known for their dedication to their craft, their charisma, and their lasting impact. Last year, Nike honored 12 Yardrunners that were dominating the business industry as entrepreneurs, and that list includes our own HBCU Buzz founder Luke Lawal Jr.
Those in this year’s class, Nike Yardrunners 2.0, aren’t your typical athletes by any measure. The 16 honorees are boldly creating change in sports like track, equestrian, cheerleading, basketball, and NASCAR. Get a snapshot of the people making sure athletics will never be the same:
- Mulbe Marcellus Dillard IV of Florida A&M University
- Mulbe Marcellus Dillard IV has taken the golf world by storm as one of few black professionals in the sport. Hailing from Chicago, he has used golf to elevate higher mentally, reaching major tournaments and beyond.
- Taliyah Townsend of North Carolina A&T State University
- The athletic talents of Taliyah Townsend have taken her all the way to the Olympics. But even after reaching one of the highest platforms in sports, she still has another height to reach: a doctorate of pharmacy from Howard University’s College of Pharmacy!
- Jennifer Gray of Alabama A&M University
- Recent Alabama A&M University graduate Jennifer Gray has connected the precision her time cheerleading required to the timeliness and discipline needed for her budding career in electrical engineering. Through her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., she has continued to emphasize the value of community building and leadership.
- A’zia Reed of Kentucky State University
- A’zia Reed has confidently led the Kentucky State University Thorobreds as a power forward on their basketball team. The All American athlete credits a positive mindset with her ability to dominate the classroom and basketball court relentlessly.
- Brehanna Daniels of Norfolk State University
- Basketball player Brehanna Daniels is encouraging other black women like herself to boldly follow their dreams through her unique story. After learning about NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program in her senior year, she stepped out on faith and expressed an interest in pit crew development. She ultimately was accepted into the program as the only woman out of 24, and now pushes for representation in the industry as the First Female Nascar Black Crew Pit Member.
- Grant Bennett of Morehouse College
- Playing baseball elevated the confidence and perspective of Grant Bennett while he studied at Morehouse College. Now the ambitious athlete encourages others to pursue what may appear to be out of reach with the founding of his non-profit The Two-Six Project. Centered in Fayetteville, NC, he supports marginalized youth to build their own leadership skills through scholarships and programming.
- Lynae Bogues of Spelman College
- Dancer Lynae Bogues has found a creative way to raise the alarm on issues affecting the black community by evolving into a poet. Through her platform as an influencer and YouTuber, she inspires others to look beyond their circumstances and elevate, because she has taken the time and inner work to do the same.
- Solomon Mangham of Howard University
- Former Howard University basketball player Solomon Mangham is used to seeing greatness, both in himself and in the black community. Now as an entrepreneur who works in private equity, he has made it his mission to elevate the hard workers in his community through exposure to new opportunities.
- Chester Hutcherson of Tuskegee University
- For former star Tuskegee University linebacker Chester Hutcherson, ambition is the main thing needed to succeed. His self-confidence despite discouraging odds has allowed the member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. to have a flourishing career in mechanical engineering and other areas of his life.
- Alphonse Nicholson of North Carolina Central University
- Actor J. Alphonse is creating a legacy with roots founded in his lessons as a drummer at NCCU. The resilient entertainer has brought his talents to projects from the “P-Valley” show on STARZ all the way to Broadway. Yet prior to the fame, he showcased his hard work ethic as a drummer on the NCCU band! He learned a lesson that has followed him through his career: work hard to earn your spot and be dependable enough to keep it!
- Clint Gray and Derrick Moore of Tennessee State University
- The supportive culture at alma mater Tennessee State University empowered football teammates Clint Gray and Derrick Moore to create what would become a national pizza chain. Through the success of Slim & Husky’s Pizza, the entrepreneurs give back to TSU students, and encourage others interested in business to strongly consider an HBCU.
- Dr. Tara Turner of Clark Atlanta University
- No-nonsense tennis powerhouse Dr. Tara Turner turned her discipline in academics and athletics into a lifestyle that continues to inspire countless others. Now as head tennis coach at her alma mater Clark Atlanta University, she takes no nonsense but encourages others to pursue the height of their potential. In fact, the HBCU Elite founder and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. now boasts a tennis team that has the highest GPA of any athletic team on campus!
- Martin Oliver of Central State University
- Professional basketball player Martin Oliver found success through perseverance, but he didn’t always have the mindset to keep himself on the right track. While crediting his alma mater with elevating his confidence, the Central State University graduate works to encourage others to bank on themselves through difficult circumstances.
- Dominique Pierre of Delaware State University
- Since first starting out at five years old, equestrian Dominique Pierre has loved the sport. The adventurous nature of the Delaware State University graduate’s personality and her love for horses has encouraged her to be bold and encourage others to be open-minded and try new things.
- Kahdre Walker of Bethune-Cookman University
- Professional dancer and Bethune-Cookman University drum major Kahdre Walker is a fierce performer who thrives on overcoming obstacles. Through his faith, he confidently tackles roadblocks by taking one step at a time.
Learn how Nike is celebrating the rich history, heritage and legacy of HBCUs here!