Wisconsin Women’s Hockey junior Chayla Edwards uses social media to share what she’s passionate about. Scroll through her Instagram feed and Linktree to see her discussing issues that are important to her, bringing attention to different causes fans can support. NIL has boosted her confidence and provided a new platform.
On July 1, Edwards had feelings of uncertainty and didn’t know how NIL opportunities would play out. After watching the market for the first few weeks, she saw deals notifications begin coming through her Opendorse app from brands like Clearcover and Degree, asking her to share her story as part of their social media campaigns.
“Degree reached out as part of the #BreakingLimits campaign, which I thought was really cool because I had never thought of myself as breaking limits,” she explained. “But then as I go back and look at my story and what I’ve been through with hockey and things, and I start to realize that I am breaking limits. It’s really cool that they were able to recognize that and reach out to me and let me share my story with them.
“Similar for Clearcover, they have an Underdog campaign. Again, never really considered myself as an underdog, but the odds were stacked against me in some ways, so being able to share my story in that way, and for them to recognize that, is really cool. I can share my story and I don’t have to tailor it to an agenda or anything. I’m authentic in that and can share what I’ve been through.”
“Growing up, I’ve always been shy and scared to use my voice and didn’t really think I had a platform. But now that NIL has come around, I’ve been able to use my voice and feel empowered to do so,” Edwards shared. “I think that really helps me for the future when trying to apply for jobs, internships, find my confidence, find my voice. It makes me realize that I am valuable, and my story is worth mentioning.”
NIL has opened Edwards’ eyes, helping her find her voice and gain confidence as she thinks about what she can do after hockey is over.
“I think it helps me find my voice,” she said. “Something I’ll be interested in the future is helping people who have been in my position or helping other women of color in hockey or sports. It opened my eyes to a whole other world of things I could possibly do in the future, even if it’s just a side job or something. I like how it broadens my horizons.”
NIL Helping Women’s Sports
Edwards is quick to point out the impact NIL opportunities have had on the women’s game, and how it’s allowed her to connect with fans through platforms like Cameo. It has given her the chance to use her voice to bring attention to women’s sports.
“A of people were more focused on football and basketball, and I thought it would be a challenge for women’s sports, in general, to get that attention and have opportunities with NIL. So, when I get these deals or have the opportunity to speak out on things, I just like to emphasize that women are so badass and so amazing at sports. With women’s hockey, it’s not typically a revenue sport, so I try to emphasize how we’re underdogs, we’re fighting that fight just like everyone else. Yeah, men’s teams might get more revenue, but I want to grow the women’s game as well, in all sports, not just hockey.”
Helping Teammates Navigate NIL
Edwards is always a team player, giving back to her teammates in the locker room as well and supporting their NIL endeavors.
“I have gotten a few questions from teammates regarding what I’ve done so far and how to go about it. My advice to them, honestly, is just, ‘Don’t change too much about your social media or your presence or platform because you want to attract genuine deals that you would want to engage with.’ That’s something I did. I didn’t want to change too much and try to attract deals. There’s nothing wrong with that, but personally, I like to stay genuine and authentic, and see what comes my way as a result of that.”
When she receives a deal, she has a standard process before accepting.
“When I do get the deal through Opendorse, or whatever it is, I look through what they’re about and what they’ve done so far with other athletes,” Edwards explained. “Then, I go through what I believe and my ideals and they don’t necessarily have to perfectly align, but if it’s something that I think will help me in the future and I can help them then I think it’s something that is worth doing.”
Communicating and working with brands can be daunting, but Edwards shared, “The brands that I have worked with are super understanding that college athletes are crazy busy. I try to find one day in my schedule a week and they are able to work around that, which is super helpful for me.”