The NIL game within the game is definitely alive and well.
The king of sports sports apparel has now entered into the realm of compensating and promoting amateur athletes for use of their names, image and likeness.
Yup, that’s right, Nike has signed its first collegiate athlete. She’s none other than UCLA women’s soccer sensation Reilyn Turner, the 2020 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and the team’s top scorer.
The budding star will now work with Nike to connect her with local communities and beyond. Nike will provide resources for her to reach back and help shape those areas she is most directly connected to.
— UCLA Athletics (@UCLAAthletics) December 14, 2021
A Lakewood, California, native, Turner is slated to work with several nonprofits in the Los Angeles area.
Congrats to Reilyn Turner for becoming @Nike’s first College Student Athlete! Reilyn wants to use sport as a platform to inspire girls to pursue their dreams and reach their highest potential. Playing soccer has opened doors for her and she wants others to have that experience! pic.twitter.com/92UUSgoQsA
— SoccerGirlProblems® (@SoccerGrlProbs) December 14, 2021
Turner expressed her excitement for the opportunity in a statement:
“I’m so excited to be a part of what Nike is bringing to the future of women’s sports. Picking up a ball opened so many doors for me. Playing sports has allowed me to build relationships with people around the world, to go on to an amazing school, to be part of a community that means everything.”
Turner’s Part Of UCLA’s Historic 2020 No. 1 Recruiting Class: Nike Jordan Brand School
The Bruins 2020 class pulled in 14 players. Some were U.S. Youth National Team members. The team included elite scoring forward Turner, Aislynn Crowder, Isabel Loza, Jillian Martinez, Michaela Rosenblum, Dasia Tolbert and Mackenzee Vance. Plus Jen Alvarado, Megan Edelman, Jordan Gaither, Clara Harding, Kellie McManus, and Kalia Novak.
All are good-to-elite-level players but the “creme de la creme” of that class is Turner.
Turner played at famed Laguna Beach High School and for the SoCal Blues travel team, where she led them to four national championships while also leading the powerhouse program in scoring. An All-American and All-CIF honoree at Laguna Beach High, she also played for the 2018 CONCACAF U-17 team. Turner scored two goals, including a game-winner against Canada, sending the U.S. to the semifinals.
HALF: UCLA 2, USC 0
— UCLA Women's Soccer (@UCLAWSoccer) November 6, 2021
Turner just completed her sophomore season for the Bruins, where she scored 10 goals, including an early season hat-trick versus Loyola Marymount. The Bruins finished the season 16-1-3. After going undefeated in the regular season they were upset in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament by UC Irvine.
HALF: UCLA 3, LMU 0
More accurately, it's @reilynturner 3, LMU0. 👏
The sophomore forward has a first-half hat trick, scoring 3 goals in the first 35 minutes of the contest.
Shots: UCLA 12, LMU 0
Corners: UCLA 3, LMU 0
Saves: UCLA 0, LMU 2 pic.twitter.com/3RzThipcMd
— UCLA Women's Soccer (@UCLAWSoccer) September 5, 2021
Nike Deal Will Help Build Turner’s Brand
The NIL deal with Nike will support, build and shape Turner’s brand, similar to what we see with UConn Women’s Basketball freshman phenom Azzi Fudd. Fudd recently hooked up with Steph Curry and entered into an NIL deal with Curry’s company SC30 INC. The deal will provide mentorship, resource allocation, collaboration efforts and more for her brand while also teaching “purpose over profit.”
Fudd’s empire of influence is built on her hoops skills. Turner’s brand will be built locally in her hometown of L.A. and expand as she continues her meteoric rise through the world of soccer.
Turner is a trendsetter, as she’s the first collegian to land a deal/sponsorship with Nike or Adidas. It doesn’t get any bigger than those two as far as sports endorsements and sponsorships go. This would be unique and groundbreaking for any Black woman, but for one playing soccer it’s almost unheard of.
“Black Girl Magic” continues to reign supreme.
Turner Knows This Is Groundbreaking: She Honors Those Who Paved The Way
“As a black woman, I think about those who have paved the way for me, like Serena Williams, Michael Jordan and Jackie Robinson,” Turner said in an interview. “Seeing how they used their platforms to create so much change even beyond sports, it’s crazy to think about even coming close to following in their footsteps.”
What keeps me humble is knowing that I’m playing for something bigger than myself. It’s not about me. It’s about my team. My family. My community.”
Safe to say you’ll be seeing a lot of Turner via the joint venture with Nike. She’ll also become a fixture in a new era for Team USA on the USWNT as they look to retool that roster completely for the first time since their 1999 World Cup win in Los Angeles.
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