(April 7, 2017) – On April 5th, the Double Pump team was invited to attend the 2017 Gatorade Partner Summit in Chicago with many of the brand’s youth partners in basketball, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, football and baseball from around the country.

The day-long summit included opening remarks from Shawna Ryan, Director of Youth Partnerships, who outlined the brand’s key initiatives for 2017 as it relates to youth sports.  Following Ryan were a series of presentations by Ryan Nuccio, Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI), Heather Faulkner, Manager of Consumer Insights and Lauren Fritts, Director, Consumer Engagement.  Gatorade’s mission is simple:  to fuel athletic performance.  All of the presentations demonstrated how each division within the company supports this mission.

Nuccio is responsible for the research behind nutrition and exercise physiology as well as athlete testing for GSSI.  He spoke primarily on the physiology behind exercise and how hydration and replacement of electrolytes helps to sustain/improve performance on the field of play.  He emphasized the importance of the ingredients and why they are present in all Gatorade products.  Pretty interesting stuff.  To learn more about the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, click here.

Following Nuccio was Faulkner who shared how this team compiles information collected from various consumers that help to determine the design and development of Gatorade’s products.  What do the names mean to their consumers?  Does a red label attract a consumer’s eye better than a blue label? Why? Does a particular pro athlete resonate better to consumers than another pro athlete?

Fritts  shared how her department takes the mission and the specific products and creates the commercials and digital videos we see on television, online and social media.  One example was the campaign for the Gatorade bars.  We’ve all seen it during March Madness games.  The point they wanted to make was that Gatorade makes bars.  We think they achieved that objective.

Gatorade Bars “All of the Lights” campaign features a quick shot of Serena Williams waving her bar.

To see the Gatorade Bars “All of the Lights” spot, click here.

Next up was Matthier McAuliffe from Google, Head of Industry, Food & Beverage for the tech giant.  This presentation was extremely interesting as he talked about Gen Z and what influences them.  Gen Z is the generation after Millennials, the kids who were born with technology being a part of their lives.  MTV describes these digital natives as those born after December 2000.  They don’t know life before Google or before cell phones or even before social media.  They make up 26% of the U.S. population and spend about $44 billion annually (seriously?).  This demographic is important to brands because they’re at the age when brand loyalty begins — when they start identifying with certain companies based on their likes, preferences, environment and activities.  How to speak to them when they’re constantly on a device is important…and it’s important to those of us who run youth/grassroots programs.

To end the Summit was Keynote Speaker, Chris Collins, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Northwestern University.  He shared stories about growing up in Philadelphia when his father, Doug Collins, was playing for the 76ers.  He shared when he was a kid hanging out in the players’ family room, he hung out with some of the other players’ kids.  Let’s see, who were some of those players those 76er teams back in the day and who were some of the kids:

  • Henry Bibby (Mike Bibby)
  • Harvey Catchings (Tamika Catchings)
  • Joe Bryant (Kobe Bryant)
  • Mike Dunleavy (Mike Dunleavy, Jr.)

And let’s not forget, Julius Erving, World B. Free, Darryl Dawkins were on those teams. Big time.

Collins went on to talk about his years at Duke both as a player and an assistant coach before heading to Northwestern.  He shared his philosophies, what he looks for when recruiting players (hint: He watches how players warm-up in the lay-up line.  Collins refused to recruit a high-major because that player would lay-up the ball and go right back to the same line…never went to the rebounding line.  He didn’t mention any names).

The only thing Coach Collins didn’t talk about…that goaltending call v. Gonzaga, or shall we say, the non-goaltending call.

Overall, it was a great day and we learned a lot.  The Double Pump team is extremely appreciative of Gatorade’s support over the years, not only for Double Pump Basketball, but youth sports and athletes everywhere.

For more information about Gatorade and its products, visit