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Adia Barnes and Nike launch academy for girls with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson

Arizona v New Mexico Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

When Arizona women’s basketball head coach Adia Barnes returned from the Nike Athlete Think Tank last year, she was brimming with excitement and plans for the future. The think tank brought together a number of elite athletes and other women involved in sports to brainstorm ideas that might “improve the experience of girls and women in sport.”

The day after her first trip to Beaverton, Ore., Barnes raved about how motivated it made her feel.

“I’m ready to change the world,” Barnes said last November. “I was so inspired. I’m a part of this group called the Think Tank, and I just, I fan girled because the group is like Serena Williams. It’s like Michelle Wie, Chloe Kim, Anna Fraser, all these amazing women...and we get to create ideas and give input on what we needed as athletes.”

She already had the wheels turning in her head about how she could apply those ideas in Tucson. She couldn’t be specific about her initiatives at that time, though..

“I left there just really, just inspired to make change and more change,” Barnes said. “And I’m gonna back a couple things that I’m really passionate about that you’ll see coming up soon that’s gonna be really big. I’m just excited.”

One of those initiatives is now getting up and running. Barnes and Nike have joined forces with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson to launch the Adia Barnes Academy of Sports and Leadership at the Steve Daru Clubhouse on Tucson’s west side.

“When I was a college athlete, we worked at the Boys & Girls Clubs in Tucson,” Barnes said. “And I wanted something to impact where it could be sustainable and I can touch it.”

Nike provided the motivation and Barnes has followed through on it.

“We had a couple of days of meetings and just different workshops,” Barnes said the day after she returned from Nike headquarters last fall. “Just with some phenomenal speakers and just basically finding out like what our purpose is...Because to me, I feel like as a coach, I’m never gonna win enough games. Like hopefully I’ll win as many championships as Geno (Auriemma). Hopefully. I’m here to win, for sure. I want to win a championship. That’s why I coach. But I feel like I want to do more than basketball. I feel like I’m here for a purpose and I feel like I impact in so many other ways. So, I want to leave an imprint. When I leave this game, how I impacted...women, and do more things that are bigger than basketball. And I think I really have a lot of visions of that, and help to get some direction on that from Nike.”