American Athletic, Inc. was founded in 1954, and this iconic brand has enjoyed a rich history due to innovative ideas and a commitment to excellence ever since.
In 2004, Russell Brands, LLC acquired American Athletic, Inc. ("AAI"), located in Jefferson, Iowa, and consolidated its Spalding® equipment, namely basketball systems, volleyball systems and gymnasium equipment, under one roof, alongside AAI®'s gymnastic and cheer equipment products. In this way, the Spalding® brand was paired with AAI's 60 years of equipment expertise in manufacturing world-class athletic equipment. Today, the company continues to pursue perfection in
quality and customer service to achieve timeless dedication and trusted
Take a look back at AAI's heritage:
Since the brand's creation, AAI has experienced exponential growth in both its product lines as well as in its influence in the gymnastics community. Here are some of the brand's most important accomplishments:
- The only U.S. equipment manufacturer to have gymnastics products tested and approved by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique, or FIG, the world's governing body for the sport
- Operating continuously in the same plant in Jefferson, Iowa
- Partnering with Nastia Liukin to create the "Nastia Liukin by AAI®" product line
- Establishing the AAI® Award to recognize the most outstanding senior female gymnast in the US
- Expanding into the cheerleading market, with many new products aimed to help cheer programs around the country
- Extending it's competitive trampoline products by partnering with Eurotramp® Trampoline to
make AAI the exclusive distributor in the United States
AAI® products have been the foundation of most historic events in gymnastics history. The dedication of our employees to the sport and their relentless efforts have enabled the most renowned gymnasts to reach new heights. The famous AAI® logo has been the backdrop to some of the most renowned gymnastics events, including:
- 1984 and 1996 Olympic Games
- 1976 and 2008 Olympic Trials
- 1991, 1999, 2003, and 2014 World Gymnastics Championships
- 2014 Trampoline and Tumbling World Championships
- USA Gymnastics National Championships since 1972
- American Cup since 1974
Today, AAI is the official equipment supplier to USA Gymnastics®, NCAA® Gymnastics Championships, the YMCA® National Championships, the Kurt Thomas Invitational, the Nadia Comaneci International Invitational, the Bart Connor Invitational, and the WOGA Invitational. AAI is also an official supporter of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
The AAI family includes many life-long employees. This family-oriented longevity is created by common goals and a commitment to shared success. Some long-time employees reflect on their years at AAI:
"The tremendous support I received from my home town and the hundreds and hundreds of people, businesses, partners, friends, and schoolmates made the AAI® brand not only possible but successful... I believe this is what AAI has always been about, and I'm proud and humbled in equal measure to be a part of it."
-Bill Sorenson, American Athletic, Inc. Founder
"AAI is responsible for my current life and most of my truly cherished friends. One of my greatest memories is from 1985 when Mary Lou Retton's agent approached me about needing a ride. I of course agreed, and soon Mary Lou and her agent came running out from the loading dock, jumped into the back of my beat-up Chevy van, and yelled "go go go"! I started driving and saw hundreds of fans chasing us on
foot yelling for Mary Lou! I followed directions and didn't stop as two police cars eventually fell into formation in front and behind me to provide an
escort back to Mary Lou's hotel. As they got out of the van and thanked me, Mary Lou handed me her warmup jacket and gave me one of her million dollar smiles. I'll never forget it."
-Steve Cook, AAI National Sales Director
"One of my strongest memories of AAI was during Christmas of 1973. As a parting gift, Bill Sorenson went through the entire factory and office, giving each employee a handful of silver dollar coins. Bill even removed his suit jacket, laid on a dolly, and rolled under a trampoline loom to give one employee his gift. The other most memorable occasions involved supplying the equipment for the 1984 and 1996 Olympic Games. We spent an entire month at each event installing floor plates in the training and warm-up gyms, setting up the equipment, and supervising the training gyms and podium training - for over 12 hours every day. We all shared in the moment when the men won the 1984 Team Gold Medal and the women won the 1996 Team Gold Medal as crowning achievements for the hundreds of hours of hard work and sacrifice... we had done our part to enable the USA Olympic Teams to become Olympic Champions."
-Whitey Anson, AAI Sales Representative
"While coaching at the University of
Illinois in 1965, Bill Sorenson, AAI's founder and owner approached me
with an offer to work as a summer salesperson. Since then, I've always been a bit of an 'experiment' at AAI, but my 49+ year association with the company has been an exciting ride to remember. Starting when the company was owned by this local Jefferson, Iowa businessman, I was part of AAI as the company grew. I was with AAI when the company was acquired multiple times and also most recently when it was purchased by Russell Brands, LLC and became associated with the Spalding® brand."
-Jamile (Jay) Ashmore, AAI International Sales Representative