Nike’s Third Athlete Think Tank Cohort Includes Women’s Basketball Coach Dawn Staley and Soccer Star Alex Morgan

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Nike launched its Athlete Think Tank in 2022, an effort to further support women athletes that was described at the time as “an evolved format for gathering and listening.” The group featured major names in professional sports, including tennis icon Serena Williams, long-distance runner Shalane Flanagan and WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu.

The athletic giant has revealed its third Athlete Think Tank cohort, which for the first time includes coaches.

University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley is one of the coaches selected for the cohort, as well as as well as U.S. women’s national soccer team coach Emma Hayes, former Chinese women’s national volleyball team coach Jenny Lang Ping and Brigham Young University head women’s cross country coach Diljeet Taylor.

The addition of coaches, Nike explained in a statement, reflects “a key insight from prior Athlete Think Tank cohorts” that is “to champion athletes, you must also champion coaches, listen to their ideas and meet their unique needs.”

“Alongside incredible athletes, the third Athlete Think Tank cohort includes some of the greatest coaches of our time,” Tanya Hvizdak, vice president of Nike global women’s sports marketing, said in a statement. “Creating positive change through sport is done through listening to the voice of the athlete and listening to coaches. I’m excited about the ideas and perspectives they bring and how we can partner to turn those into action.”

As for the athletes, those included in the third cohort are Olympic gold medal-winning soccer player Alex Morgan, college basketball star Kiki Rice, famed Peloton cycling instructor Tunde Oyeneyin, retired artistic gymnast Laurie Hernandez, professional golfer Nelly Korda, skateboarder and surfer Sky Brown, swimmer Alice Dearing, multisport Paralympic athlete Oksana Masters, Olympic triple jump champion Yulimar Rojas and  judo practitioner Romane Dicko.

Athlete Think Tank, Nike
The third Athlete Think Tank.

Nike said in a statement that the athletes and coaches have gathered to share their “insights, thoughts and vision for a more equitable future of sport,” which the brand said continues to help it “redefine the model of athlete partnership as a two-way commitment that champions candor, deep listening and collaborative problem-solving.” What’s more, Nike said the Athlete Think Tank has also resulted in new “product offerings, services for athletes and support for community organizations.”

This year, Nike stated it will donate $1.7 million to nonprofits chosen by members of the collective “to help break barriers to access and achievement.” Those organizations include Social Impact Fund, Central Carolina Community Foundation, Make Life Skate Life and Charities Aid Foundation America to help create positive change through sport.

Nike said it has invested a total of $4.4 million to community organizations on the program’s behalf since its inception.

“Nike’s investment in community and commitment to listening to women athletes signals the depth of the brand’s support for members of the collective as well as women and girls across all levels of sport,” Hayes said in a statement. “We have an environment where we can change things that are going to make a difference for future generations of athletes and coaches. It’s extremely inspiring and empowering.”

Nike also said it will form a fourth cohort of athletes and coaches this year.

About the Author

Peter Verry is the Senior News and Features Editor for Athletic and Outdoor at Footwear News. He oversees coverage of the two fast-paced and ultracompetitive markets, which includes conducting in-depth interviews with industry leaders and writing stories on sneakers and outdoor shoes. He is a lifelong sneaker addict (and shares his newest purchases via @peterverry on Instagram) and spends most of his free time on a trail. He holds an M.A. in journalism from Hofstra University and can be reached at

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