Some thought it might’ve been the University of Alabama’s football star Bryce Young. Other might have thought that University of Connecticut women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers might have been the lucky one. Possibly Gonzaga University’s men’s basketball stars Chet Holmgren or Drew Timme could have also been picked. But in somewhat of a surprise development, Nike’s first name, image and likeness endorsement deal has been signed with UCLA Bruins soccer star Reilyn Turner.
“I’m so excited to be a part of what Nike is bringing to the future of women’s sport. Picking up a ball opened up so many doors for me. Playing sports has allowed me to build relationships with people around the world, to go to an amazing school, to be part of a community that means everything,” she said. Via ESPN.com
Turner has been an emerging star in California for many years, proving her value in international tournaments of the United States’ under 20 and under 19 squads. While at UCLA, she’s been an unstoppable force in her two campaigns with the Bruins. She’s posted 21 goals in two seasons, and had a dynamite start to her 2021 campaign. In just 36 minutes of action on the road against Loyola Marymount University, Turner notched a hat trick, or three goals in that short span.
As if that wasn’t enough, she made a statement in the Bruins’ very next game against the defending champion Santa Clara Broncos. Turner dialed up the only goal the Bruins would have on the day in a highly impressive 1-0 victory over last year’s title winners.
Turner’s dynamite performance on the field of play make her a deserving recipient of Nike’s first NIL deal with a college athlete, but she brings more to the table than just athletic talent.
“Turner acknowledges the doors that soccer has opened for her, and she wants to give those same opportunities to local girls and boys, helping them get active, pursue their dreams and reach their highest potential,” Nike communicated in a statement. Via Insider.com
The language coming out of this NIL deal shows the continued evolution of these agreements that are only in their infancy. Rightfully so, many wondered about the financial earning power of athletes now that NIL endorsements were on the table, but Nike and Turner have refocused the narrative on grassroots support for local communities. It will be interesting to monitor how the deal between the shoe conglomerate and star athlete figures to give back to neighborhood sports programs.