ST. GEORGE — When people step into most basketball gyms, they are probably focusing on the game taking place. But when you step into a Crimson Cliffs boys basketball game, something else might catch your eye.
While some are watching the defense or offensive sets, others are looking at what is on the players’ feet. The Mustangs are locked in when it comes to their so-called “shoe game.”
Some believe it doesn’t matter what athletes wear when they play basketball, it matters who the player is. However, the Mustangs are using the “look good, feel good, play good” philosophy.
The idea that a team may play better when wearing nicer sneakers may seem absurd to some, but that’s exactly what head coach Kasey Winters alluded to earlier in the season when asked about the shoes his players were wearing.
He also quickly mentioned assistant coach Kent Fairbourn as the sneaker consultant.
“I think that’s a good title,” Fairbourn said. “It’s pretty accurate.”
Fairbourn is what some would call a sneakerhead. Both his overall sneaker knowledge and his collection are huge. Players from the team and even outside of the team come to him to talk about shoes. They ask him what he thinks of shoes and if he likes them.
His collection ranges from various Jordan brand sneakers to Kobes and beyond, but sneakers mean more to Fairbourn. He says they are a way of showing your personality and who you are as a player and as a person.
“Obviously comfort has to play a factor, but it’s about expression, it’s about feeling good, it’s about looking good and it’s about who you are for sure,” Fairbourn said. “These kids will come in with some shoes, show them to me, and I’m thinking, ‘I probably wouldn’t wear that, but it looks really good on you because it fits who you are.’ I think it’s kind of an extension of yourself.”
As far as the players are concerned, Winters singled out Trei Rockhill, Danny Wade and Cole Sampson as the three who have the best sneakers. Each of them laid out their favorite sneakers and gave the inside scoop behind the shoe game of the team.
“I have five pairs of shoes that I play in, but I have 22 total shoes at my house right now,” Rockhill said. “It’s just competition between our friends, just always trying to have the best shoe game.”
They then began to argue over who had the best shoe game on the team. It’s fair to say there was no final conclusion, but they definitely all have their fair share of good-looking shoes.
They were all in agreement when talking about the coaches though, Fairbourn was the first name brought up.
At the beginning of the year, the team rules for sneakers looked much different then what you see the Mustangs wearing today. Winters limited it to just shoes with red, blue or white, which are the school’s colors.
The way the sneaker chain works is simple for the Mustangs. They see a sneaker they like, then they send it to Fairbourn for his opinion and stamp of approval. Early in the season, their selection was limited, but that did not last very long according to the players.
They all said they were abiding by the rules at first, but then they began to sneak in other pairs of shoes that did not match the school’s colors.
“Now he’s loosened up a little bit and they love it, they’ve run with it,” Fairbourn said. “It’s important to them that they look good, it’s just one less thing to think about. If they think they look good then they don’t worry about it.”
When asked about their favorite sneakers, Rockhill brought up the Adidas marquee boost lows, Sampson likes the Kevin Durant 11s and Wade likes the Kobe 11s and 4s.
One of the players said the most expensive sneaker he’s ever bought was $274.
Now the bigger question is, which team has the best sneakers in the region. Fairbourn said it was for sure the Mustangs, but other teams in the area have some kicks to show off as well. Knowing how confident basketball players are, it would probably be a never-ending debate.
The Mustangs travel to Juan Diego on Friday to play in the first round of the Class 4A boys basketball tournament and one would assume that their players will be in their most stylish pair of kicks.
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