Team at Young Women’s Academy competes in Nike challenge


A team of eighth graders at EPISD’S Young Women’s Academy have submitted their parkour shoe prototype to Nike as part of a Sportslab challenge with TERC, an independent, research-based organization. 

The challenge was to design a parkour shoe. Parkour is a sport that involves moving rapidly through an urban area while maneuerving through obstacles that include jumping, running, and climbing. 

Eighth-graders Sophia Tovar, Grace Kimble, and Jeneba Tucker went through weeks of researching data and learning about the different parts that make up a shoe in order to come up with their very own design. The group said they used different Nike shoes as inpiration. 

“We added more ankle support and more of the platform support to help keep a good grip when you’re parkouring,” said Tovar, who wants to be an engineer when she is older. 

She said this project has taught her about a shoe’s gate and how people walk. 

However, the challenge was more than just a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activity. Kimble, who said she wants to be a lawyer says it taught her how to work in a team. 

“Mainly because of the research,” said Kimble. “We had to go through milestones and learn through the process of creating something.” 

The girls said their design focused on avoidng an injury, so they created a “high-top” shoe for ankle support. 

“I love the shoe that we created,” said Tucker. “I would wear it if they actually made it, I would ask my mom to buy it for me.” 

The team said they realized there is more to making a shoe than just making it look cool. Their goal was for it to provide comfort and support. 

“To make a shoe, you have to think about how people walk because they can’t have a shoe that is not good for them. They wouldn’t be able to walk and they wouldn’t want it,” said Tucker. 

Their teacher Ms. Haleigh Kneedler said this was the first year the school took on the challenge, but hopes it will continue in the years to come. 

“It is really important for my students to be exposed to this, especially in middle school because it is usually a monumental year to get that taste of what they want to do when they get older,” said Kneedler. “So when they get to high school they can pick the classes needed for their career to succeed in college.” 

The team submitted their prototype on January 18. The top three designs will be chosen by a panel of sport product researchers, parkour atheltes, and STEM teachers. 

Winners will be announced February 28 and recieve prizes from Nike. 

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