The North Face Introduces Athlete Development Program
While the great outdoors and our greatest pursuits in them are ostensibly open to everyone, fair and diverse access has always been another matter. The playing fields for rock climbing, snowboarding, mountaineering, and beyond favor those privileged with easier admission in all of its geographic, demographic, and economic forms. To level the playing field, The North Face just unveiled its Athlete Development Program (ADP).
Launched in March 2022, the initiative was created as a means of challenging inequity in sponsored athletics by, in the company’s own words, “tackling the systemic barriers in the recruitment process that often keep underrepresented communities across race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and differently abled athletes from excelling in their discipline.”
The North Face announced its first selection of ADP members, comprising 17 emerging athletes “set to recast and accelerate diversity in outdoor recreational and career sports,” notes a company press release.
The group consists of climbers, trail runners, alpinists, and mountain athletes. Their backgrounds range even further—from the Bronx and rural Kansas to Jamaica, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. All of them will be provided with tools and resources to support their careers as sponsored athletes, while inspiring others within their respective communities.
“In launching the Athlete Development Program, The North Face builds on its decades-long commitment to making the outdoors more accessible and equitable for all,” says The North Face Chief Marketing Officer Sophie Bambuck. “We hope that this program enables aspiring athletes who might not have had the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their sport to realize their dreams.”
The inaugural class of 17 ADP athletes includes 17 unique stories—all linked by passion, determination and singular talents in outdoor athletics. They include ski mountaineer Nafeesa Andrabi, a Sociology PhD candidate from UNC Chapel Hill with roots in Pakistan, and skateboarder-turned-snowboarder Irie Jefferson, who grew up in Jamaica and Samoa before gravitating to Washington D.C. Florida-born Jay Rawe had his own Tony Hawk dreams before a BASE jumping accident left the resilient athlete fighting to walk again. Urged by his mom to give sit-skiing a try, he’s now rocking backflips and helping to redefine the sport.
The North Face’s first class of ADP athletes have all signed two-year, paid contracts. They’ll receive funding for gear, sport development, and expeditions, plus individualized training programs with mentors from The North Face Athlete Team.
For more information about the The North Face Athlete Development Program and to meet its first team of athletes, visit thenorthface.com.
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