How College Lacrosse Goalies Can Make Money
As of today, July 1, a new era in college athletics is upon us.
This is easily the most fundamental change in the college sports landscape since Title IX, the gender equality law enacted almost 50 years ago.
For the first time ever, athletes at all levels of college sports will be permitted to get paid for their name, image, and likeness (NIL).
They can earn money based on their celebrity or fame without facing the harsh wrath of the NCAA.
The rule is valid in more than a dozen states currently. Many others states have legislation in process and I imagine all 50 will come on board in due time.
So how can lacrosse goalies profit off of the new name, image, and likeness rules?
Build Your Brand
If you’re a youth goalie, now is the perfect time to build your brand. And if you’re a high school or college goalie, it’s never too late to start.
The easiest way to build a brand these days is via social media.
Now if you’re a parent of a youth goalie reading this and you immediately think – wait Damon – I don’t want my kid’s business all on the internet. That’s fine, I totally respect that. This isn’t for everyone.
But at the same time don’t be the parent complaining when your kid hits college with the ability to make money on their brand only to realize they have no brand.
There’s this kid I follow on Instagram Rocco Vasquez aka the hbk_heartbreakkidd. Not even sure how old he is, 10 or 11 if I had to guess.
He has 10k followers. He has built a brand.
I don’t know if Rocco got money for these posts (he probably does or maybe free gear) but I do know under previous NCAA rules if an athlete got paid for something like this or even just accepted a gift, they would be in major trouble. Not anymore.
View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
There’s a set of twins, Haley and Hanna Cavinder, that play basketball for the Fresno State Bulldogs.
They have over 3.3 million followers on TikTok. That’s a brand.
And until now that brand that they’ve built hasn’t earned a dime (unless it was illegal). As of today, many are calling the Cavinders the hottest NIL property right out of the gate, very well positioned to take financial advantage of this amazing brand they’ve built.
Jordan Bohannon plays basketball for the University of Iowa. He has 29k followers on Twitter. That’s a brand.
And guess what? Starting July 1 (date when NIL laws pass), his personal merch store is open for business:
College athletes who have spent time building up an extremely valuable brand are now in an amazing situation where they can profit off of that brand.
Benefits of a Strong Brand
The only thing that is still illegal is “pay-for-play”, i.e. come to this school and we’ll give you $50k.
Everything else is pretty much fair game under the new NIL rules. Athletes can make money via things like:
- Autograph signings
- Selling merch with their name, image, likeness
- Teaching camps/clinics
- Sponsored Posts
- General sponsorships
But you what all of those bullet points rely on? A strong brand.
When the PLL first started they had limited selection of replica jerseys available in their merch store.
The only goalie jersey available for sale was Scotty Rodgers, the backup on the Atlas. Why? He’s got a very strong brand with 44k followers on Instagram.
There are so many ways that you can monetize a strong brand. The bulleted list above is a great start but when you carry a strong brand, the possibilities are almost endless.
Here’s another thing a strong personal brand can help you with: getting recruited in the 1st place.
A strong brand can absolutely help you secure a spot into that elite D1 program you’ve always dreamed of attending.
At the end of the day you still need the talent and the grades but you don’t think there will be college coaches chomping at the bit to get a look at our 10 year old friend the HeartBreakKid once he hits high school?
That’s the power of a strong brand.
People and companies want to be associated with strong brands. And now there is nothing stopping a local car dealership from giving the local star player a free car in exchange for some mentions on their Instagram.
Provided the activity is in accordance with state laws and school policy, athletes will be able to work with agents and make deals with boosters.
This is a wild time. I love it.
How Do You Build a Brand
So let’s say you’re a 14 year old goalie from Long Island, NY who is now asking the question – how do I build my brand?
Simple – document your journey.
You don’t have to be the best goalie in the world to build a great brand. Yes, it helps if you have talent but building a brand is also about entertaining and teaching.
Post videos of yourself doing drills in the backyard. Post videos of yourself making saves.
Post a video teaching another goalie something you learned.
Post videos of yourself in a best of 10 shootout with your friend. Post pictures of what you like to do off the field.
Post pics of important leadership lessons you learned. Post pics of your favorite lacrosse goalies and write about something they taught you.
Post videos of yourself sharing your thoughts, yours fears, your gratitude, your celebrations.
All those post ideas I just wrote out in 30 seconds. If I gave it an hour of thought or did a simple Google search, I’m sure I could come up with another 100 different post ideas.
Pick a single social media platform – Instagram or TikTok with their visual focus tend to be best for sports – and document your journey.
Study accounts like our friend Rocco and see what they’ve done. Replicate that for goalies.
The second part of building a brand is the interaction. When people comment or ask you questions – respond back. Comment on other goalies posts too.
That helps build the brand.
Eventually you may want a website to continue the brand so definitely pickup your name’s domain name if its available.
You will hear crickets at first. That’s fine. Keep going. Stay committed to reaching at least 100 posts.
Even if you don’t have a strong brand by the time you reach college, that’s fine too. Many collegiate athletes have seen their “brand” absolutely explode with a solid season of play.
Joe Burrow was relatively unknown going into his senior year. After an SEC championship and a Heisman trophy his brand exploded and the value of his name, likeness, and image could command top dollar. One study estimated $700,000. For a college kid.
In the lacrosse goalie world, I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know who Owen McElroy or Colin Kirst were at the beginning of the 2021 season. After an amazing season in between the pipes, they’re now on everyone’s radar.
Even if lacrosse doesn’t generate the amount of revenue of other big sports, simply making a few extra thousand dollars here and there off your NIL can be a real game changer for a starving college student.
The School’s Brand
The other factor at play here when we’re talking about building a brand is the University’s brand.
In addition to a personal brand, the school’s own brand can help individuals find lucrative sponsorship deals.
When you think about the top college football programs, it doesn’t really matter who the actual QB is, businesses will be trying to sponsor them.
They want to associate themselves to that program and this new NIL rules is a great way to do that by sponsoring the athlete.
Alabama QB Bryce Young backed up Mac Jones and a grand total of 0 starts in his collegiate career and yet he has 7 figure sponsorship deals.
That speaks to the power of the Alabama football brand.
Today is a long time coming. Probably the most transformative day in the 115 year history of the NCAA.
College athletes for years have made their respective universities millions of dollars and have received nothing. Apart from the illegal $100 handshakes here and there from the boosters.
Now the rules have changed. Athletes who have created a strong brand are well positioned to start making some serious cash.
Even in a sport like lacrosse that doesn’t generate the millions, big time athletes can at least start making some money on all the hard work they’ve put in to build their skill into a brand.
Kinda makes you wonder if college athletes will start getting sidetracked running the business and lose focus on the sport itself. But that’s a topic for another post.
Until next time,
PS – What your thoughts about this rule change? If you have a youth goalie would you let them start building a brand today? Leave me a comment down below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.