Her Wings Unfurl With A Swoosh Nike Ad Sends Teen’s Words Around The World

SATURDAY, FEB. 21, 1998

Joining the company of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Picabo Street is Nike’s newest spokesperson, 16-year-old Piper Loyd of Idaho.

The junior at Ketchum-Sun Valley Community School wrote a poem titled “Wings,” heard and seen around the world, expressing the powerful passion of striving for excellence.

Her 60-word poem was picked by Nike for a commercial it started broadcasting during the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

The company asked 25 professional poets and students from 13 high school writing programs to submit poems. The writers were asked to focus on skier Picabo Street, hockey player Cammi Granato and basketball player Dawn Staley.

“Wings” was one of four poems chosen from more than 200 entries, Nike spokesman Kathryn Reith said.

One ad was created on each of the three athletes, and Loyd’s poem was picked for another 60-second spot representing all women athletes.

“I wrote it for Picabo, but it’s not just about Picabo or skiing. It’s for anything, whatever you are trying to do,” Loyd said.

Piper also appears in the “Wings” commercial, reciting her poem while images of sporting endeavors flash by.

Her story began last September when she wrote the poem.

“It just came to me all at once,” Piper said.

It was her first such effort, and it was submitted with the rest of those written by students at the small private school.

“I had forgotten all about it,” she said.

Then during a regular Monday morning assembly her creative writing teacher announced that they had heard back from Nike, and Piper’s poem had been chosen.

“My mom knew about it all weekend, but I was out of town that weekend. I was really excited.”

Piper was awarded a $500 prize and the school received a $1,500 honorarium for participating in the program.

“The best part is that Piper was picked. You couldn’t find a more deserving, modest, hard-working, delightful and conscientious student,” said Jon Maksik, the headmaster at Ketchum-Sun Valley Community School. “Nike couldn’t find a better representative than Piper Loyd.”

Having her poem chosen was just the beginning of Piper’s adventure. In late November she was flown to Universal Studios to be filmed reciting her poem in front of different backdrops. A second film session came later.

Piper’s face appears in shadows in the final commercial.

“We’re excited,” said Jamie Loyd, Piper’s mother. “It’s been great, a little overwhelming, but Piper has just been taking it in stride. There are so many smart kids and it’s great that Nike did this, that students are recognized.”

In February, Piper was invited to appear on “Oprah Winfrey.” She and her mother flew to Texas for a show with Olympic surprises as the theme. It aired Feb. 4.

Winfrey gave Piper and her mother a trip to the Olympics in Nagano, including the closing ceremonies.

Piper competes in slalom and giant slalom ski racing, volleyball and swimming. But she also would like to write more poetry.

“It’s hard to keep up with school and skiing, so I don’t have much time for extra writing,” she said. “But since this poem worked out so well, guess I should keep at it.”

xxxx Wings By Piper Loyd Some people only dream of flying. They say, “You need wings to fly.” I say, “I have wings.” But they can’t hear me. I’m already there, and the wind is screaming the words with me. But I’m not dreaming. They say, “I wish I had wings.” I say, “You do have wings.” The question is, Where are you hiding them?


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