This is part of a series called “Outside of the game.” Other featured BYU student athletes are Adam Hine, Erica Owens, Brock Whitney, Taryn Lewis and Ben Patch. The complete, interactive iBook is available for free in the iBookstore.
Kyle Rose sits in the locker room and laces up his team-issue basketball shoes before hitting the court. He’s living out his lifelong dream of playing for the Brigham Young University basketball team. But outside of practice, Rose’s sports shoes just don’t make the cut compared to his Air Max Ones, Jordan Fours or Foamposites.
A redshirt freshman on the BYU basketball team, Rose has collected about 150 pairs of shoes — Nikes and Jordans, specifically, plus about 20 other pairs of everyday shoes.
What Rose says began as a “mini obsession” with shoes was fueled by visits to his dad’s office at Nike. In junior high, Rose wore a size 9 — the perfect size for leftover sample shoes, which were a perk of his father’s job. His friends started noticing that he was wearing different shoes to school all of the time and wanted to trade him, and that’s when he said shoes became his hobby.
“Seventh grade is when I started to collect and care which pairs I had and try to get the best pairs,” Rose said.
Even before that, Rose had been indoctrinated that Nikes are the best. He has been wearing Nikes since the time he first had shoes on his feet.
“He probably had a pair of Jordans on him when he came home from the hospital,” said Rose’s father, Scott Rose. “He had a Jordan onesie and matching crib booties.”
Scott Rose has worked at Nike throughout his son’s life, so shoes were always abundant at the Rose home. He said shoes are everywhere you look in the house, filling the closets and garage like food storage. Kyle Rose was taught to appreciate shoes at a young age.
“The very first time I can remember him having an opinion about shoes was in the fifth or fourth grade when he had a dress-up day,” his father said. “He always matched everything, but on that day I remember him wearing a black pair of Jordans on one foot and a white pair on the other foot.”
Young Kyle Rose’s favorite shoes back then were high-top Nike Dunks, nicknamed Sea Crystals, that he would sport with a matching shirt, of course.
He has kept up his collection since. He and a teammate used to camp out overnight for shoes. They’d wait in line with their the shoes until their Nike-employed fathers came in the morning to purchase them.
“He knew at a very young age everything that was exclusive enough that he wanted it be to be part of his collection,” Scott said.
Kyle Rose’s collection just kept growing as his father taught him about new technologies and up-and-coming shoe releases. During his senior year, he had the opportunity to work with the Nike design team to create the shoes for his high school basketball team. With the Hyper Dunk as his starting ground, he built the color and added school logos.
Also during his senior year, the avid shoe collector went the first 60 days of school without repeating the same pair of shoes.
His roommate and best friend since seventh grade, Mitch Mathews, said, “I was always jealous because he’d go to school for two to three months without wearing the same pair of shoes.”
Aside from coordinating his footwear, Kyle Rose was also busy coordinating his Eagle Scout project. He raised money and donated Nike shoes and other gear to different charities.
Since then, Rose has continued to look outside himself and is always ready to share. In addition to letting trustworthy friends borrow from his collection, he gives up his shoes to make others happy. In December 2012, he met Garrett Card at the Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation. Rose found out Card was interested in Nike shoes too, and they got to talking shop.
“That’s what he wanted for Christmas, so I ended up giving him a pair out of my closet at a game,” Rose said. “He was super stoked. He couldn’t even say anything except thanks a billion times.”
As he continues his collection, the Nike purist keeps up on his research by spending time on blogs and shoe websites. Kyle Rose looks at the colors and the technologies as well as the history behind the shoe — especially when it comes to Jordans like the Jordan Fours he recently acquired.
“He (Michael Jordan) wore these way, way back in the day — before I was born,” Kyle Rose said. “He hit a game-winning shot against Craig Ehlo in one of his most famous moments. These are one of my all-time favorite pairs of Jordans for sure.”
Other shoes have special meaning to Rose because they are connected to important memories like a basketball tournament with his father during his sophomore year of high school or a significant basketball game.
“I remember my senior night in high school for basketball I broke out this pair of Jordans that I had never worn before,” he said. “I wore them and played in them for senior night, and we won.”
When he wears out a pair, a rare occurrence, Kyle Rose just throws them out or gives them away. Yet some shoes he has never worn and doesn’t ever plan to wear. He keeps all of his shoes, brand new or not, in the boxes with the tissue, but he said he has about 50 pairs still with pristine soles.
“Honestly, some of them are just so nice and just look so good I don’t want to wear them,” Rose said. “I don’t want to mess them up. I don’t know why I do that, but I just can’t bring myself to wear them.”
While he knows some people think he’s crazy, he also says a lot of people like his gigantic shoe collection. Some people even come over and look through the boxes and check out all of his shoes. Mathews said people are amazed when they come into Rose’s room, and they ask him a lot of questions about the shoes.
Even though he is fairly humble about his collection, he — like anyone with something new — sometimes wants to show them off.
“One time he got four new pairs of shoes that were all the same but different colors,” Mathews said. “He lined them up perfectly so people could check them out.”
With three more pairs on their way in the mail, Rose’s shoe collection just keeps growing, and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Nike shoes are probably in his life to stay, and his future spouse had better be okay with it.
His father said, “I think he’s already picked out the pair he’s wearing to his wedding — a pair of Italian-made Air Force Ones with crocodile skin.”
In the meantime, Kyle Rose keeps sharing his shoes and awaits his big break in the BYU basketball program. He worked hard to reach his goal of playing for BYU, and since making tryouts, he has been practicing with the team and staying committed in hopes of getting his moment.