NEW MATAMORAS - Frontier High School recently entered a corporate sponsorship agreement with Nike and Dixie Team Sports, an arrangement many people would associate more with collegiate athletics.
But such deals are becoming more common in high school sports, as companies look to extend the reach of their brand.
"Nike's goal is to have a Nike swoosh on every athlete in America," said Todd Northrup, midwest regional sales manager for Dixie.
"As you can see on Saturdays, they dominate college sports," he said. "Now their next approach is to dominate high school."
Northrup said Dixie has more than 50 Nike all-school deals in place for colleges and high schools in his region, which includes West Virginia, southeast Ohio and the Pittsburgh area. Most of those came about within the last year-and-a-half.
Frontier is the only one in Washington County, but the company also has a deal in place with Morgan High School.
Nike and Dixie Team Sports are now sponsors for the sports teams at Frontier High School.
The companies sponsor more than 50 schools and their teams in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Frontier is the only sponsored team in the area.
"It's the right thing to do, for businesses to give back to the community," said Northrup, a Frontier graduate. "Everybody doesn't have the budget they used to have."
The way the deal works is the school gets a set amount of "promotional goods" from Nike and Dixie. These can include items like uniforms, apparel and footwear.
In return, Dixie is "our primary supplier of all athletic needs," said Frontier High School Principal Jack Mental. That covers all sports at the school, for grades seven through 12.
Mental said the deal will provide Frontier with a significant savings but declined to release specific numbers, citing a confidentiality clause in the contract.
A spokeswoman with the Ohio Attorney General's Office said that in general, state public record law trumps contract language but noted there are exceptions in circumstances involving trade secrets. The office had not reviewed the specific agreement between Frontier and Dixie.
Mental said Dixie presented the corporate sponsorship proposal to the school.
Nike is "a brand that everybody wants to wear anyway," Northrup said. "When it's Nike and you're also being rewarded for wearing the product, it's a win-win for everybody involved."
Northrup noted the company benefits by getting more exposure for its products.
Zide's Sport Shop has similar arrangements with some schools in Ohio but a company spokesman did not return a call seeking comment for this story.
Marietta High School athletic director Rick Guimond said the school has no corporate sponsorship deal and hasn't been approached about one. The school's athletic uniforms and equipment are purchased by funds from the district and the athletic boosters.
Guimond said price is a major factor in athletic equipment purchases. But he noted that local companies support the school and he tries to return the favor when possible.
"We definitely shop price and that's important in our decision. But we also try to take a look at our local vendors," Guimond said.
Wolf Creek Local Superintendent Bob Caldwell said his district does not have a corporate agreement but generally tries to use local companies whenever possible.
They use a quote process and consider geography and turnaround time, as well as the quality of the merchandise.
"We try to get our (uniforms) to last four years so that any athlete has the opportunity to be in a new uniform by the time they reach varsity," Caldwell said.
Wendy Amrine, president of the Wolf Creek athletic boosters organization, said her group pays for all uniforms for the district's sports teams, raising money through concession stands at games and other fundraisers.