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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

West Loop Church Becomes Incredible Basketball School For Chicago Teens

The Nike workshop is bringing 2,000 teens from the South and West Sides to the church aiming to bring communities “together through the power of sport."

Nike converted an abandoned church into facility for teens to develop basketball skills in the West Loop.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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WEST LOOP — Nakiyah Mays-Prince has her sights set on the WNBA.

Sure, it’s a challenge, but the Simeon Career Academy freshman said with “the right mindset, you’re able to accomplish anything.”

For the 14-year-old, Nike’s “Just Do It HQ at the Church” workshop is pushing her towards her goal of “becoming a better player,” a path to her dream.

“My crazy dream is to go to the WNBA,” Mays-Prince said. “I want to take care of my dad cause he works two jobs and barely gets rest [so I can] play basketball.”

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Nakiyah Mays-Prince, 14, has her sights set on the WNBA.

Mays-Prince is among 2,000 teens from across the South and West sides participating in Nike’s month-long training pop-up focused on basketball at the Church of Epiphany, 201 S. Ashland, in the West Loop.

The training facility dubbed “Just Do It HQ at the Church” offers athletes between the ages of 13 to 17 a chance to participate in a four-hour basketball workshop that includes a skills clinic led by professional trainers, athlete appearances, health and wellness workshops and strength training workouts — all centered on inspiring the next generation of young athletes.

Nike spokesman Heter Myers said the month-long workshop in the West Loop is Nike’s way of celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Just Do It campaign by getting young people active, and inspiring them to “go after their dreams.”

“We placed a sharp focus looking at the basketball community,” Myers said. “Everyone knows Chicago is basketball, basketball is Chicago. We wanted to make sure we instilled belief and helped reignite the next generation of athletes.”

The workshop offers a comprehensive approach to coaching on and off the court, Myers said.

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Young athletes goes one-on-one against Chicago Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen.

The overall mission is to empower kids and bring communities “together through the power of sport,” he added.

“You can see the kids’ faces light up when they walk into the facility,” Myers said. “Everyone walks out of here feeling so fulfilled.”

The workshops run Monday to Saturday throughout the month of August, putting the “Just Do It” mantra into action on the basketball court.

Chicago Bulls and Chicago Sky former and current athletes, Scottie Pippen, Jabari Parker, Lauri Markkanen, Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot and Alaina Coates were among some of the athletes who dropped by the facility during the first training session Monday. The professional athletes offered insight on their journey to 60 students from across the city.

Credit: Mauricio Peña/Block Club Chicago
Chicago Sky point guard Allie Quigley approaches Nakiyah Mays-Prince during a drill training at Just Do It HQ at the Church in West Loop.

Coates recalled her high school and college years and how she made sure she worked on her craft.

“I made sure I did the little things to set me apart,” Coates said. “Hone in on what makes you different, and help elevate your team.”

Vandersloot urged the young athletes to “know your role and play it to the best of your abilities.”

Quigley reminded the young athletes to “be a great teammate.”

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Young athletes listen to Chicago Sky players impart wisdom from their journey to become professional athletes in the WNBA.

During Monday’s workshop, students ran through drills on the courts, completed a strength training workshop and wrote their dreams and goals in a  journal.

Kenwood Academy High School student Tyson Midgett is leaving the workshop with inspiration that “there is no such thing as a crazy dream.”

Kenwood Academy High School student Tyson Midgett said the message of the workshop was clear. “There’s no such thing as a crazy dream,” the 17-year-old said.

“You shouldn’t give up on your dreams…Whatever you want to do in life, you can do them. You just have to keep striving,” he said.

Here’s a look inside Just Do It HQ at the Church:

Credit: NIke Chicago
The basketball court at Nike’s “Just Do It HQ at the Church” in the West Loop.
Credit: Mauricio Peña/Block Club Chicago
Bulls star Lauri Markkanen talks to the students at Nike’s workshop.
Credit: Mauricio Peña/Block Club Chicago
Renovations to the church made for stunning backdrops.
Credit: Nike Chicago
The locker rooms at Nike’s “Just Do It HQ at the Church” in the West Loop.
Credit: Nike Chicago
The weight room at Nike’s “Just Do It HQ at the Church” in the West Loop.
Credit: Mauricio Peña/Block Club Chicago
Credit: Mauricio Peña/Block Club Chicago
Bulls star Lauri Markkanen worked out with students.
Credit: Mauricio Peña/Block Club Chicago