VANCOUVER, Wash. — From a Washington classroom to an NFL field, masterpieces by Vancouver students are about to be in the spotlight.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will wear cleats designed by two students from King’s Way High School in Vancouver during Thursday night’s game.
“I did not expect this at all," said senior Sarah Turcic.
“I didn't think I was going to get picked,” said freshman Olive Mohammadi.
Neither Turcic or Mohammadi thought they would be designing shoes for an NFL quarterback.
"We've never painted on shoes, like, we don't know how that works,” explained Turcic.
That is exactly what happened though thanks to their art teacher Justin Tigner.
"I thought that would be an unbelievable opportunity for a high school kids at a 1A, 200-enrollment school in southwest Washington,” Tigner explained.
Tigner met Mariota volunteering in Eugene when he played for the Ducks. That connection led to a school-wide competition at King’s Way Christian High School to design a pair of cleats for Mariota. Fifty students submitted designs. The school then narrowed it down to five and Mariota picked his favorites.
Mariota picked Turcic’s cleats to wear during warmups. Her design is a mix of landscapes from Oregon and Hawaii, where Mariota is from.
"It will just be such a surreal experience because I spent two weeks painting those, staying up late, coming in early, coming in at lunch to paint them and like perfect my design...and now he has them and he's wearing them in a national televised game," Turcic said.
Mariota chose Mohammadi’s cleats to wear during the game. She also had Hawaii in mind while creating her design.
"I just wanted him, when he looked at it, to kind of think of his home or what he thinks is most beautiful about Hawaii,” Mohammadi said.
Designing a shoe was a new experience for both girls, but it’s one they will never forget. Their teacher could not be prouder.
"I'm going to be so proud of these kids,” Tigner said. “I came to teach high school art to get kids interested in it and the fact that they have this opportunity, this is my third year teaching and already we have a contest where we're painting an NFL quarterback's cleats, is beyond what I could've imagined that my students would get to do."
The custom shoes are part of the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" week, when players get to wear cleats to bring awareness to a charity of their choice. Mariota chose the ALS Therapy Development Institute because of a friend who was diagnosed with ALS. The proceeds from the shoes will go toward helping find a cure for ALS.