YouTube Lessons from a D1 Lacrosse Player: How Mitchell Pehlke Builds his Brand

Mitchell Pehlke Blog

Mitchell Pehlke understands the value of social media and is making the most of playing at a Division 1 level. The Ohio State Lacrosse Sophomore launched his Youtube channel in high school and, with a strict schedule, the right mindset, and dedication to his endeavors on-and-off the field, he continues to achieve success with the channel.

“Playing lacrosse and getting to the D1 level, you got to pick it up every day,” Pehlke says. “You have to pick up the stick and practice and work out every single day. That’s translated into my social media and YouTube game. You have to pick up the camera. You have to hop on the laptop and edit every single day because, you know, if you want to get good at something, you have to be consistent at it.”

Balancing the Student-Athlete Schedule

Student-athletes’ schedules are a balancing act. Viewing Pehlke’s calendar, there’s rarely a window of free time. Time to hang out with the guys during the week? Nope, that’s reserved for the weekend. Time management is a skill that Mitchell prides himself on.

“The biggest thing that I structure myself on is my sleep schedule. As an athlete, you’ve got to take care of your body. I think that’s the number one thing. Getting 8 hours of sleep is huge for me. I have a strict sleep schedule of going to bed at 10 and waking up at 6 every single day. In the spring and the fall, practice slots are different. But for right now, our practice slots are from 12 to 2pm. So I wake up, do my homework – done. And then get on YouTube.”

Having a rigorous schedule has helped Pehlke maintain focus on long term goals. Just as strict as his schedule are his priorities. Despite embracing social and building a large audience, it still ranks low on his priority list.

“You’ve got to be really disciplined with yourself. It’s school, lacrosse, YouTube and it’s got to stay in that order because I’m here to play lacrosse and I’m on a scholarship – and if it gets out of that order, then it starts to get a little iffy. But once I finish school and once I’m done playing, then it’s totally onto the social media thing.”

Applying the Athlete Mindset to Social

Social media is a double-edged sword. Whatever is posted can be seen by thousands-to-millions of people. That’s why mindset plays an important role. Even for an extroverted athlete like Pehlke who grew up choosing to watch Youtube over traditional television, it can be difficult to put your personality online at first.

“For me to go back and think about how I was afraid of what other people would think, it’s just crazy to me, because, in the moment, I didn’t care what people think. And I don’t know why me posting it online really made my whole mind think differently.”

Gaining confidence takes time. If athletes enjoy the content they create and maintain authenticity, their audience will typically appreciate that content, too.

“I think the biggest thing is you can’t care what people think, and you gotta always have that mindset. Who cares what people say if they’re judging you? It’s just because they’re jealous or they don’t have what you have. If you really think about it in that way, I think it’s easy.”

Pehlke spoke about his desire to build a brand he wants, and going beyond his life as a D1 athlete. By extending activity beyond sport-specific content, he can continue to create value with his social media channels long after his playing days are done.

“You see people out here, especially in this D1 content world where people make all these like D1 this, D1 that, but really they’re just chasing the views. Once they graduate and they don’t make it to the pros, who are they? That’s where and when they really kind of show themselves.”

Helping the Next Generation of Athletes and Creators

The number-one DM Pehlke gets since finding success on social? How to launch a Youtube channel.

“That’s the number one DM I get. First of all, you just pick up your iPhone and go. You don’t need the best camera and I always tell people, ‘don’t be afraid to start your own channel.’ I think it goes back to do what you do – make the type of content that’s going to make you happy.”

Mitchell’s DMs aren’t just filled with people curious how to start a Youtube channel. A lot of them are directed to him in terms of recruiting. There’s no better person for a recruit to speak with than a current student-athlete. With the personal brand he’s built, recruits already feel connected to Mitchell, making it easy to reach out and hop on a zoom.

“I love doing that and I do it all the time because I think, you know, they are the future. I really think I’m a big face to this Ohio State lacrosse brand. That part of helping the next generation on where to go to college is cool because not a lot of people in my position get to do that.”

Related Content

The State of Sponsored Social

Get the full breakdown on 36,000 branded Instagram posts published on behalf of more than 3,200 sponsors in sports