Discussing NIL Deals with Nicklin Hames

Football and basketball stars aren’t the only ones capitalizing on NIL deals. Nebraska Volleyball star Nicklin Hames continues to show the value female athletes bring to the NIL era, boasting a carefully crafted portfolio of 10+ NIL partnerships.

From participating in national deals with brands like Love Your Melon to supporting local businesses like Muchachos, hosting volleyball camps, and sending video shoutouts, Hames has set herself up for success.

NIL, Female Athletes, and the Local Community

“I feel like a lot of people didn’t think that female athletes would get as many deals as football or basketball,” she said. “But lucky for us, I go to Nebraska and a lot of people love our program and I’m super grateful for that. It gives us a voice and that gives us the opportunity to have the same opportunities as the football and basketball teams, which I think is really cool.”

Hames is thankful for the local Lincoln, Neb. community that has supported her as a student-athlete and aims to return that support by participating in NIL activities that connect with the community. Partnering with local businesses, starting a podcast, giving video shoutouts, and hosting volleyball camps have been ways she’s linked up with fans.

“[I love] being able to connect with the Nebraska community; they’ve given us so much,” Hames said. “The fan base here is unreal. That’s one of the reasons why I chose this school. To be able to connect with them through our podcast that we got to start because of NIL or send a birthday shoutout to someone is really special. I’m grateful that I go to Nebraska.”

The Logistics of a NIL Deal

When asked about how most of these opportunities came together, Hames shared, “Most of them came through Opendorse.”

“I have all the descriptions of everything [brands] want me to do, including the date, which was super helpful for me because I am very busy,” she explained, discussing the importance of Opendorse for her NIL experience. “When it has that date, deadline, and time it is really helpful. And then when I got those deals, I kind of just looked into the brand or who I was going to be working with to make sure it really matched with who I am as a person and how I wanted my brand to be.”

Connecting with the community and companies doing brand deals provides value beyond NIL opportunities.

“’I’ve been able to build my brand through NIL and connect with a lot of people I don’t think I would have been able to before,” Hames said. “I’ll have those connections for my entire life. Say I want to get into an industry after volleyball is done, you know? Everyone hates to say that, but some day the jersey has to go up and it’s over. So having those connections with those brands gives me an opportunity later down the road if I want to do that career path. I have those connections now.”

As a leader in the NIL era, inside and outside the arena, Hames gives two pieces of advice for other student-athletes beginning to navigate NIL opportunities.

“First, I would say, use the Opendorse app. It is very helpful. It’s super easy and for us. We’re really busy and everything’s on that app and then you can just do all your deals through there.

“Second, connect with brands [you align with]. It really means a lot to you and your brand, and it’s been amazing for me because I’ve been able to give back to the community here in Lincoln that’s given so much to me. And if it wasn’t for NIL, I don’t think I would have been able to do that.”

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