words & images // Zac Dubasik
published in Issue 45 of Sole Collector Magazine, the 10th Anniversary Issue

There was no athlete that better represented why I was into sneakers than Bo Jackson. While basketball has since become the only sport I follow, I played both baseball and football when I was younger, and no one better represented the two sports together than Bo.

For me personally, Bo Jackson’s Air Trainer SC II was also the introduction to my passion for sneakers. Had things gone according to my plan though, it may be a whole different story. A pair of Fire Red Air Jordan IVs on sale at JC Penney's was the original pair I planned to get that fateful day in early 1990. After months of begging (and, of course, the aforementioned price drop), my mom finally agreed to let me get them – as long as my dad also gave his OK.  

Unfortunately, he wasn’t at the mall with us that day. After what seemed like a five-hour drive home, I burst into the house to pop the all-important question to my dad, only to hear him respond with a “Yes.” (I can’t imagine I’ve felt that level of happiness too many times since that day.) Next came the long ride (approx. 3 miles) back to the mall to pick up the IVs.  

Then disaster struck. They were gone. While it seemed like hours, in reality only about 30 minutes had passed, but the one pair that was left, which just so happened to by my size, had been bought.

My mom must have somehow known what a crushing moment that was for me, and was quick to suggest looking for another pair. That “replacement” pair ended up being the Air Trainer SC II. I was already a huge Bo Jackson fan, and was quick to see the situation as not something I had to settle for, but something that was actually better all along.  

To this day, I still remember getting them home, and, being my first pair of kicks with visible Air, assuming I’d then be able to increase my vertical enough to touch the living room ceiling. (For the sake of this story, let’s just say I could.)

I wore and loved those shoes until they completely fell apart. Even then, I still tried to salvage what I could by cutting off the rubber tongue logo as a memento.  

Based on that experience as a kid, when the Nike Training category re-launched in 2009, Bo Jackson was the first person that came to mind when we embarked on our all-encompassing Nike Training issue. His athleticism was unmatched in his prime, and he rightfully represented the very best of the category. The ultimate honor came when we got to travel to Chicago to shoot and interview Bo at his very own training facility, where they help athletes of -- you guessed it -- all sports improve both on the field and in the classroom.

We had some great shots from our trip to Chicago, but when the opportunity arose to use the famous image of Bo holding a baseball bat, with his shoulder pads on, it was simply too good to pass up. For me, it brought my love of sneakers full circle.

Sole Collector Magazine // Issue 30 -- October 2009