Dick's Sporting Goods announced its "Grit Before Gold Tour," which will make various stops in more than 25 states.
At each community event, Team USA Contenders will lead groups of local youth in clinics, drills and specialized programming to show them what it takes to train like an Olympic or Paralympic athlete. Team USA Contenders will also share with attendees their personal stories on how sports have influenced their lives and the values they learned through sports from a young age.
Young athletes will have the opportunity to participate in traditional Olympic and Paralympic sports like track and field, beach volleyball and wrestling as well as learn more about Olympic and Paralympic sports they may not be as familiar with such as rugby and canoeing, directly from elite athletes in those sports.
The tour is expected to impact thousands of kids nationwide, who have been invited to attend the events through relationships that Dick's Sporting Goods has developed with local schools and community organizations. Events are invite-only and not open to the public.
The Team USA hopefuls taking part in the tour are a small portion of the more than 200 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes across 35 sports who are currently employed at 102 stores in 34 states as part of the company's Contenders Program including:
Danell Leyva (Gymnastics): Leyva was an Olympic Bronze medalist in the all-around competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The 24-year-old Miami-native is a five-time World Championship medalist and hopes to medal once again in Rio this summer.
Jillion Potter (Rugby): Potter is a co-captain of the U.S. Women's Rugby Sevens squad that is set to appear for the first time as an officially-sanctioned Olympic sport this summer in Rio. The 29-year-old prop is not only a force on the field as a member of the team since 2007, but also a force off the field as well, overcoming a severe neck injury and cancer to representing Team USA this summer.
Jerome Avery (Paralympic Track & Field – Guide Runner): Avery is an able-bodied athlete who competes as a guide runner for blind Paralympic world record-holder David Brown. Avery has appeared in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games as a guide runner and hopes to add Rio to his list this summer. Prior to becoming a guide runner, Avery competed at the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials as a sprinter. He works out of a California Dick's Sporting Goods close to the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Allysa Seely (Paratriathlon): Seely has already punched her ticket to represent Team USA in Rio as a Paratriathlete after winning gold at the ITU Elite Paratriathlon World Championships last summer. This summer, she hopes to bring home gold once again in Rio. She works out of a Dick's Sporting Goods in Arizona.
Josh Dangel (Track & Field – Pole Vault): An all-American and Big East champion at The University of Cincinnati where he holds the school's pole vault record, Dangel looks to continue his success at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field later this summer. He recently starred in Dick's Sporting Goods newest Team USA ad and works out of a Dick's Sporting Goods in California.
"We're excited to bring our Contenders into the communities where they work and live to teach local kids more about what it means to train like an Olympian," said Lauren Hobart, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Dick's Sporting Goods. "At Dick's, we believe that sports truly do matter and allowing our Contenders to share their stories of how sports have made their lives better will hopefully inspire the next generation of athletes."
In the coming weeks, Dick's will continue to add additional tour stops to their schedule. A schedule of stops and participating Contenders to date is found here.