Entering the NIL era, Oregon Volleyball star Gloria Mutiri had a plan. She was focused on being intentional about partnering with brands that align with her values, long-term goals, and amplified the story of her life.
Tragedy and Perseverance
Gloria Mutiri’s family traveled the country during her youth. The Mutiri parents, Pepe and Chantal, established ministries, connected with churches, and performed service work alongside their four daughters: Faith, Gloria, Grace, and Victoria.
They set roots in a few locations including Tulsa, Okla., but Gloria remembers visiting 40 states during her childhood. They did it all together as a family.
Then, tragedy struck. Both Pepe and Chantal passed away in consecutive years due to serious health conditions. Devastated, the four Mutiri daughters had no choice but to pull even closer together. They moved into a group home as they navigated high school.
The Mutiri girls had each other. They also had a strong mindset and limitless talent. Gloria poured her energy into volleyball and emerged as one of the top recruits in the nation in her senior year. She committed to Kansas State, where she excelled for two seasons before transferring to Oregon. She has continued to grow in Eugene, becoming one of the top players in the country with the character to match.
“While coping with the passing of my parents at a young age, I continued to persevere and follow my dreams to honor their legacy,” Gloria shared through her Degree #BreakingLimits partnership.
The Degree deal was one of Mutiri’s first NIL opportunities. It was impactful right out of the NIL gate, along with Clearcover’s “Inspired Underdogs” and others that allowed her to share her story with the world.
“I know I can conquer anything that comes my way because I’ve faced adversity head on and worked so hard to grow the strength to overcome it.”
Excelling in the NIL Era
The NIL era has opened doors for every student-athlete. For some, it’s meant a little extra spending cash. For others like Mutiri, NIL has been life-changing.
The new era of college athletics can be nerve-wracking, but it can be navigated effectively with a proactive, organized approach.
“Opendorse has definitely helped me organize the opportunities that I have,” she said. “I’m able to see the brand’s background and contact them through the app. I’m able to see how much money I can make and what that would look like for my social media, and my brand in general. I’ve worked with Degree and Clearcover; those have been some of my favorites.”
Just like other social media platforms, Mutiri checks her Opendorse app daily to stay on top of new opportunities and continue communication with existing partners.
“Opendorse has eased the NIL process for me,” she said. “Little dates sometimes escape me, or communicating and engaging with people on my phone. That’s much harder for me, so it’s nice to have everything in one app. I check it like I Instagram or Twitter. It’s part of my phone routine so I’m able to see if there’s new deals or I need to communicate with a deal I already have.”
Mutiri is also strategic about how she manages her earnings through Opendorse.
“There’s money on the app that can stay there, or I can take it out and can talk about taxes,” she explained. “It’s so much easier than having to reach out through different emails and contacting somebody through text or someone calling you and having all this information to write down. It’s so nice just having it all in one app.”
Student-athletes are busy. Outside games and practices, they have countless other commitments like classes, tutoring, nutrition sessions, rehab, and other mandatory meetings. NIL is another task to add to the plate, and student-athletes need to put in time to have success. But they are now seeing the rewards of the work put into building their brand and balancing NIL activities.
“I think the biggest misconception is that things are just going to come to you,” Mutiri said. “I count NIL as a little bit of a student-athlete job. I have to get up and go to practice. There’s stuff outside of your sport, off the court, off the field, like going to tutors or little things like that. NIL is definitely part of that process for me.
“I like making sure that I contact people back and I’m good with communication, that I’m aware of deadlines and what I should post and what I should say. Being on top of that is just as important as anything else that I do and I get rewarded for that. It’s been a really good process and I feel like all of the work that I’ve put into that has showed, it’s exciting.”
Using Her Platform
To Mutiri, NIL isn’t just about herself and her story. It’s also about helping bring exposure to women’s sports, growing the game of volleyball in various communities, and being a voice for Black women.
“I originally thought when NIL came out—and I think a lot of other female student-athletes thought this—that it wouldn’t matter because I’m not playing basketball or football,” she admitted. “NIL has really helped bring exposure to women’s sports. Here at the University of Oregon, women’s sports are already a big deal and people really prioritize them just as much as men’s, but [that’s not always the case]. I know a lot of opportunities have been handed to the female athletes here and it’s brought in a lot of fans. A lot of people are more interested in the sports, finding more fandom.”
When she thinks about female athletes inspiring others, something she seeks to do, Mutiri is quick to highlight the impact of Serena Williams.
“I love how she presents herself and how her brand is about being a strong black woman,” she said. Mutiri has grown in her voice and leadership surrounding racial and social equality. “[Sarena’s] not afraid of that. She’s strong, but it’s not masculine. It’s feminine and she’s kind of reshaped what a female athlete looks like. That’s my goal: I want people to be able to see me and know that I’m also a strong, Black, female athlete. I’m not afraid to break barriers and to step out of my comfort zone and be confident in who I am as an athlete. [I’m] proud of being myself.”
After graduation, Mutiri plans to play professional volleyball. She’s aware that the jersey will come off one day and plans to pursue a career as a sportscaster or TV personality with the goal of hosting her own show.
She is leaning into NIL to help her get there.
“NIL is a good start for preparing myself for my professional career as a volleyball player and my professional career as, hopefully, a TV personality [in] the entertainment business. The deals that I sign and the brand that I’m working with can hopefully reflect where I want to go and what I want to do with my life.”
Wherever Gloria’s journey takes her, her story will continue to inspire others along the way and make her family proud.