The Team that Deserves a Name
By: Kyle Markley
When you think about super teams, you think about the Golden State Warriors or the New England Patriots. But when it comes to running, there is a team in Portland that fits the definition of a super team. There is just one problem, this team does not have a name.
It was October of 2019, and the team formally known as the Nike Oregon Project gets disbanded leaving its athletes with uncertainty about what their futures will become. However, a few of those athletes coached by then assistant coach Pete Julian were allowed to continue to train under his supervision. And at that moment a new team emerged out of the ashes of the Oregon Project.
This team is filled with world medalists, national record holders, a world champion, the list goes on and on. But the one thing they are missing is a name that fits their identity. For a year and a half now, the team has yet to be given their own name and brand identity. Having a name and a brand is not only good for the team, but for the sport of track and field as well. By giving this all-star team of runners a name, they will undoubtedly be given a unique kit that fits the personality of the team. When you watch a Diamond League race what do you see? A sea of mostly Nike jerseys with a couple scattered Adidas or other smaller brands. Pete Julian's team is world class in every way....except when it comes to their team identity.
Along with the jersey, a team name can also build something that all sports fans love, a rivalry. Two of the best track teams in the world call Portland their home: The Bowerman Track Club and Pete Julian's nameless squad. These two powerhouse teams go head-to-head throughout the year and deserve to showcase their brands. But to the everyday fan watching a track meet, they might not see a rivalry, only a race between a couple red jerseys and some generic Nike jerseys. There is no identity, no rivalry, nothing without a name.
When you look at some of the best middle and long distance athletes in the country right now, what do they all have in common? They are all on sponsored teams like Bowerman Track Club, Oregon Track Club Elite, Brooks Beasts, Hoka NAZ Elite, Dark Sky Distance, and Hanson’s Brooks Distance Project; teams that all have a unique identity starting with a team name. Their name gives them an opportunity for fanbases to buy their merchandise and for new fans of the sport to jump on the bandwagon as their favorite team.
But what should the name be? This name should certainly fit the caliber of runners this team is made of similar to how the 1992 USA Olympic Basketball Team was dubbed “The Dream Team." Pete’s group deserves a name that is just as appealing to fans. I know the team is busy with training, so I've taken the time to come up with three potential ideas.
1. The Portland Project.
This name includes the "project" portion that is similar to the old Oregon Project name. It is short, catchy and showcases the pride of the Pacific Northwest.
2. Stumptown Speed Project.
This name pays homage to the city of Portland and its roots in the timber industry. Anyone that has seen Donovan Brazier’s kick during the last 150 meters of an 800-meter race knows this name would be a perfect fit.
3. Nike Elite.
Simply put, Pete Julian's group is one of the highest caliber training groups in the world. They are elite. The team is made up of runners that are the best in the world from the 800m all the way up to the marathon. They are the best of the best in the running world and therefore should have the name to prove it.
Nike if you are reading this, it is time to give this team a name. The identity is already being shaped by their success. And for a team whose goal is to win medals and break records, a name that fits this dynamic crew is long overdue.
Comment below with what you think the team name should be.