|Has NIL made it harder for your coaches to coach you? Has it made your teammates resentful of your financial success?
It’s the exact opposite. I’m really close with my coaches on and off the court. I love them like crazy. And all the girls on the team are on board. They’ve been phenomenal.
Are there any downsides for you to being able to make money, or something challenging about profiting from your NIL that other athletes need to know about?
I haven’t found it challenging. I’m comfortable in front of a camera. I love connecting and talking with people. I will say that if you are the kind of person who is a little bit more reserved or aren’t comfortable on camera, and you’re doing deals, it might be a little challenging. But it’s something anyone could work on and get better at.
The most work you really have to do is write a script for yourself, and then do some takes until your [sponsor] has one they love. I mean, it’s 30 minutes, max. And then you get paid!
What kind of marketing skills have you learned from doing this?
There’s a lot I’ve learned from working with brands that I didn’t even take into consideration before. There’s certain language—things you can and can’t say. There also have been time where I’ve had to shoot videos four-plus times, edit them, and then do voice overs because in my contact it says they have the right to four rounds of edits. I couldn’t get mad about that, because it was it was in the contract and I didn’t look.
So one skill is learning to read the fine print. That’s really useful!
Are there any rules from the NAIA or your own school about what you can and can’t endorse?
No. I’ve been thinking about wearing my school jersey or branded stuff in certain promotions, and they’re all for that. They are all about the publicity. And with PlayBooked, we try to get all of our athletes to wear stuff from their colleges.
Let’s talk about PlayBooked. It’s an online platform that you and your parents built to connect college athletes to NIL opportunities. ESPN reported that the first partnership on there paired an apparel company with other athletes from your school.
Yep. I had a few girls from the volleyball team. Obviously! I’m trying to get my girls paid first, right? They’re like family to me. So I wrote out a text to all of them and I was like, “hey guys, this is a brand that wants to partner with us. Are any of you interested? A few of them were.
It was a little T-shirt company. I think the pay was $50 each. Just basic “wear the shirt, take a picture, do a post on your feed or story.”
Since then, there’s been more deals—ESPN reported PlayBooked is up to about 200 NAIA athletes, who are making between $30 and $100 for social media posts.
Right now, we have a website and our team at PlayBooked is connecting with brands. Eventually, we will have an app where a lot of that will be automated. We want to get a system in place so what when the NCAA changes its rules, we’ll be able to get those athletes on board.
So if I’m an athlete and I want to use PlayBooked, how does the process actually work?
We would say, “okay, great. We have these brands lined up. You’re going to do this brand. This is the product. Here’s information about what the brand wants to be said about it.” If the athlete likes the brand and wants to do the deal, it’s pretty seamless. You take a video of yourself talking about it, send it to us to look over, and if we like it, we say “thumbs up” and provide you the cash right now.
If we don’t like it, we’ll say, “hey, do another take.” But we haven’t had much of that. Everybody has been so good at following the directions so far.
Could the platform grow to work almost like an online dating platform, where athletes and brands have, like, profiles and they all can just swipe on each other to set up deals, or search for each other to find the best fits?
That’s exactly what it is going to be. We also want to be able to allow fans to be able to buy a video of an athlete saying “happy birthday” to them, or a video for their daughter of someone like me saying “You’re a great setter, I see you’ve been doing my drills, you’re awesome.”
This sounds like Cameo.
What about other NIL opportunities, like contacting you to come be an assistant coach at my summer volleyball camp or something?
Yes, we want it to be across the board, each athlete creating their own profile according to whatever business they want to conduct. They can do shoutouts, special appearances, whatever.
Do you see this as something that could become a career—either as a social media influencer or working on the business side of online marketing with college athletes in the future?
I see both. I see this app, in 10 years if we’re talking big picture, on the phone of every college athlete in America and on the phones of millions of people who are fans and brand owners. I see myself working with both of my amazing parents, and hopefully my brother getting paid if NIL gets passed and he’s in college [in the future], playing [Division I].
What sport does your brother play?
[High school] basketball. He’s awesome. He’s going to go places. He’s still being recruited [by colleges] right now. He’s gotten a lot of visits.