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Heart and Sole

October 29, 2013
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)


Aggie basketball players turn love of sports and shoes into quite the collection

by Julie Nelson '13

Every shoe tells a story and walks its own journey, revealing much about the individual who wears it.

Student-athletes at Texas A&M spend much of their four years in College Station wearing team adidas gear on the playing surface—but on their watch, this group of Aggies also sports personal fashion on their feet, illuminating their individuality.

Like any of the sports cheered on by the 12th Man, A&M’s basketball teams sport their own fair share of sneakerheads.

"When I was little my dad wouldn’t get me (certain) shoes because he said I had to earn them. So when I started earning them, I started to collect them all."

- Chelsea Jennings

This group of student-athletes hails from different backgrounds, different parts of the country, and all have different interests. However, the one thing they have in common is their devotion to shoes.

“I have over one hundred pair of shoes,” said Rachel Mitchell, a sophomore from Houston who plays center on Coach Gary Blair’s squad.

“I have probably close to one hundred pair of shoes,” said Bryan native J-Mychal Reese, a sophomore guard on Billy Kennedy’s team.

When it comes to taking care of their shoes, these athletes possess a certain type of ownership. Some have them specially displayed on shelves while some keep theirs organized by color and brand while kept in their box.

“Well since we have a little apartment, I keep all my boxes and keep them all in the boxes and very organized. They are organized by number,” said sophomore Chelsea Jennings, whose organizational skills likely stem from the fact that she one day hopes to become an architect.

Collecting shoes has become more than just a hobby to some. On one hand, there may be a deeper connection as to why they love shoes so much and what has influenced them over the years to embrace and collect them.

For others it was a reward, or a friend or family member that played a huge role in influencing them over the years.

“I always liked shoes (even) when I was little, and when I was little my dad wouldn’t get me those shoes because he said I had to earn them,” Jennings said. “So when I started earning them, I started to collect them all.”

“Actually my Jordan collection started when my brother passed away,” said senior guard Fabyon Harris. “He used to wear Jordan’s a lot. I used to wear Air Force 1’s. I decided that when I got to college that I was going to try and get every pair that comes out, out of respect for him. That’s what I’ve been doing so far.”

“My brother always collected (shoes),” sophomore guard Shawn Smith points out. “Whenever he would leave to go out of town, I would sneak in his room and wear his shoes. I was glad when I started to make my own money so I was able to buy my own to start my collection. Pretty much my brother is the reason I started collecting.”

"(I like) Competing with Fabyon...he lit a flame in all of us that made us want to get more shoes. He definitely has the most shoes I’ve ever seen."

- Antwan Space

For others it’s just like it is on the court. It’s about the competition.

“Competing with Fabyon [Harris],” confirms sophomore Antwan Space. “Fabyon lit a flame in all of us that made us want to get more shoes. He definitely has the most shoes I’ve ever seen.”

One thing for certain that all of these athletes can agree on is the feeling of getting a new pair of shoes. Once they have that new pair in their possession, that shoe becomes a part of them and their journey.

“When I get a new pair I’m like, ‘Alright, I got them. Now it’s time to swag them out for the whole week’,” Harris said. “Then when the new ones come out I’m going to swag those out as well. The feeling is good to just have on some fresh kicks.”

“There is no greater feeling. Probably the best feeling,” claimed Smith. “Better than…well I can’t say better than food. But it’s a great feeling.”

“The best part about getting a new pair of shoes is the smell,” stated Reese. “Something about getting a new pair of shoes, it’s almost like Christmas morning.”

“I feel like a kid at Christmas,” declared Space. “A new pair of shoes is a blessing all the time. Makes me really happy.”

Do we wear our hearts on our soles?

Yes, our shoes can be indicative of our personality, our moods…simply capture an expression or even make a statement, without speaking a word. The shoes we sport definitely portray a multifaceted story about who we are.

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