NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The tiger spirit has been embedded in Tennessee State University since 1912. However, a new groundbreaking Nike “Yardrunners” sneaker collection has given alumni and students a new way to strut their school spirit.
“THINK. WORK. SERVE. ” has always been the motto at Tennessee State University. But in this instance, TSU students are ‘serving’ looks this fall as Nike launched a multicolor Dunk Low sneaker displaying the university’s colors designed by TSU alum, Kalynn ‘KT’ Terrell.
“This was a goal that I always wanted to accomplish and the prototype was my exact design,” Terrell said.
Head drum major of the Aristocrat of Bands Marro Briggs, said he was excited to get his hands on a pair of the sneakers as the historical aspect, is deeper than the aesthetic.
“This is a once in a lifetime … a piece of history,” Briggs, an economics and finance major, said. “I was really excited because I love shoes. This sheds a bigger light on us and our culture. I am happy they (Nike) chose TSU.”
The TSU themed sneakers feature tiger-printed shoelaces with a “Tiger Pride” branding on the striped insoles. The shoes also feature 1912 embroidered on the heel tabs. The inner tongue highlights the TSU motto with a color scheme of red, blue, black, white, and yellow.
Terrell, a 2016 TSU graduate, added that the yellow gives the sneaker a special touch. The color symbolizes the land of golden sunshine, another university moniker fondly used by alumni.
“For me it (yellow) represents completion,” Terrell said. “It’s not your alma mater until you walk the stage … so, it symbolizes that I made it. I did it.”
Terrell is a fashion designer, wardrobe stylist and serial entrepreneur from Huntsville, Alabama, who began a partnership with Nike in 2020.
When Terrell was a teenager, she knew that fashion and tennis shoes were more than just a hobby, they were a lifestyle. During undergrad, Terrell said she always had a sense of self as she walked the campus with confidence, graduating with a degree in psychology.
“I became who I am because of Tennessee State University,” Terrell said. “If I had never attended TSU, I probably wouldn’t be comfortable dressing how I dress now.”
Terrell’s style and branding landed her with an opportunity of a lifetime, designing a shoe for Nike.
“This opportunity meant the world to me. It’s groundbreaking and it lets me know that I am on the trajectory of going in the right direction.”
This year, Nike Yardrunners class focused on “HBCU alumni who are forging a legacy through fashion that will inspire future generations.”
Tennessee State University Dunk Low is part of a four-piece HBCU Yardrunners first-ever shoe collection that also highlighted sneakers created by women who attended Clark Atlanta University, Florida A&M University, and North Carolina A&T University.
Former Miss TSU and fellow Alabama native Mallory Moore said she’s thrilled to see her alma mater in the spotlight and proud of the individual behind the design.
“HBCU’s are finally being showcased for their positive contributions to society and the leaders they produce, specifically Tennessee State University,” Moore said.
“TSU has a big sneaker community, so it feels amazing. I am grateful that the university I once served is being celebrated in a major way.”
Everyone is hopeful that the Nike spotlight will bring future endeavors to the university. Terrell said she looks forward to collaborating with her alma mater again. She noted how HBCUs and African Americans move the culture forward in the fashion industry.
“We are the style,” Terrell said. “We are the standard.”
Terrell is the owner of three product base businesses: Nose In The Air, KT Wore It, and Nose In The Air Hair Co. She said operating her businesses and staying true to herself has aligned her with opportunities she was destined for.
“When I am gone, what’s going to be here to keep my name afloat,” Terrell said when asked about leaving a legacy. “I am trying to create something that is bigger than me. I would love to leave a staple.”
About Nike Yardrunners
Nike’s Yardrunners is a series to celebrate the cultural contributions and history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, along with their students and alumni.