Name, Image & Likeness (“NIL”) deals are here! In Tennessee, NIL has already positively impacted collegiate and high school athletes! My Q&A session below with Five-Star Volleyball phenom, IMG commit and Bradley University commit, Amanda Mack, hopes to provide you with a unique perspective on the positive roles high school NIL is actually playing in the lives of young people in Tennessee.
Questions by: Michael Brezina // Answers by: Amanda Mack
EMB: Amanda, you are an exciting Volleyball player! Tell us about your background, current goals and future plans!
AM: I am a rising Senior from Maryville, TN. I attended Maryville High School for my Freshman, Sophomore and Junior Years, where we had a lot of success and great times. My best friends are and always will be at Maryville. I also want to recognize and thank my trainers and coaches at K2 Volleyball and Club Unite for their help in developing me as a Volleyball player!
With a heavy heart, I recently decided to transfer to IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, to be a part of the first Volleyball team in their program history under Coach Donald Suxho, a 2-time Olympian. After graduation, my dream really begins! I have committed to Bradley University to play for the best Volleyball Coach, developer, mentor and recruiter in America, Alicia Williams. I am very grateful for these opportunities! It means more than words can describe. In the short term, it makes me want to work even harder so I don’t let my parents, schools and coaches down!
EMB: What is your overall impression of NIL so far?
AM: NIL for high school students is a new concept that for me has been an eye opening and amazing experience! Since this is new for everyone, it was very important for me to have people in my court that have my best interest in mind when looking at potential deals for me. There are so many companies/brands out there to work with and I knew right away that I wanted to work with those brands and companies I believed in. This could be anything from my training facilities to clothing to food and products that I use on a daily basis or while playing my sport.
EMB: Have you signed any NIL deals?
AM: Yes. A few!! The state of Tennessee first opened up NIL to high school students in December 2022. The day after the law changed, I was offered my first NIL deal from D1 Hardin Valley. This was an easy decision for me as I have been training with D1 and Cory Windle for years and fully believe in their trainers and facilities. They are amazing people who take care of their athletes! NIL was definitely overwhelming at first, but I got the hang of things quickly and really enjoy helping companies out by endorsing their products. I have worked and continue to work with Under Armour, and have received NIL endorsements from Move Insoles, Brezina Law, PLLC and Biles Homes, with more opportunities on the horizon! For now, the money I make is put aside and saved and will be invested for my future! These are opportunities I never had before and I am so grateful for them. The NIL deals that I have been involved with have been amazing!
EMB: Has NIL positively impacted you in other ways?
AM: Yes, much more than I imagined. Working with different companies has helped me to grow as a person and athlete as well as meeting new people and making lifelong friends along the way! It has also helped me learn new skills that I will need in life as an adult. NIL deals that are social media related for example, usually have post requirements on certain days/times, which I must meet or I don’t get paid. This has helped me learn how to manage my time and schedule and be able to integrate it with my school and sports schedule. Once a deal is made and contract signed, it’s extremely important to always keep your word and follow the contract. This shows the companies that you are dealing with that you are serious about your responsibilities and able to handle what you’ve agreed to do. In turn, this will also help you to get more deals in the future because it shows a proven track record.
EMB: Do you have any advice for other high school or college athletes who are handed an NIL deal/contact?
AM: The contracts for any NIL deals are legally binding and therefore it’s so important to have an attorney that specializes in contract law and sports. This way there’s not any possibility of being taken advantage of by any unscrupulous companies that might otherwise try to make the contract beneficial only for them. The attorney can also negotiate on your behalf in order get the best contract terms possible. I have been extremely blessed to be able to work with you. Ultimately, it is about being protected legally. It is also nice to have a professional/lawyer advise me on any NIL issues that may arise.