When Nike sought a partner three years ago for its initiative to combat health issues on reservations by bringing sports to Native American youths, Oregon State men's basketball was a very logical choice.
Joe Burton, a forward on the Beavers at the time, grew up on the Soboba (Calif.) Indian reservation and was a perfect ambassador for the event, having overcome weight issues and academic woes to earn a Division I scholarship.
Out of those common interests grew the annual Nike N7 Game in which Oregon State has donned turquoise jerseys the past four seasons in honor of Native American Heritage month. The turquoise color is important to Native American culture because it symbolizes of friendship and community.
For the first time this season, three other schools with Native American ties will join Oregon State in supporting the movement. Florida State, Nevada and New Mexico will also don special turquoise Nike jerseys during selected games this month.
"When we first talked about this idea four years ago, we had a unique opportunity with a very special player, Joe Burton, who represented his tribe as the first member to earn a full athletic scholarship with a major university," Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said in a release. "I'm excited to see other schools embracing the idea because there are so many athletes who will benefit from the awareness we're creating to provide opportunities for Native American and Aboriginal kids to play sports and be active."
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