Slice and Pryce #02: Balancing NIL, Athletics, and Mental Health with Alex Glover and Kaleigh Gallagher

In June, two MarketPryce athletes attended the NIL Summit in Atlanta. We chat with them and discuss balancing NIL, athletics, and mental health.

Episode Outline

  • NIL Summit Expectations vs. Reality
  • NIL Summit Takeaways, an Athlete Breakdown
  • The Importance of Authenticity for Athletes
  • Balancing NIL, Athletics, and Mental Health as an Athlete
  • Why Confidence is a Game-Changer in NIL

*This transcript has been edited for readability

Slice and Pryce #02

Sam Green: What's going on guys, it's Sam from MarketPryce, and I'm here with AG and KG. And I am SG. You know, we had all that, all the Gs this weekend, but we just wrapped up the NIL Summit, a big three day event. First of its time, ladies, introduce yourself and we got to get into this. We got to give them the inside scoop.

Kaleigh Gallagher: All right, what's up everyone. Like Sam said, I go by KG, but my name is Kaleigh Gallagher. I just graduated from Loyola University, was on the women's soccer team, taking my figure of eligibility at Johns Hopkins right down the street, get my master's in marketing.

Alex Glover: I'm Alex Glover. I am a volleyball player at SMU in Dallas. I'm a senior this year and I do have two more years to eligibility left. So not sure what I'm going to do with that yet, but yeah.

NIL Summit Expectations vs. Reality

Sam: I feel like saying you're not sure what you're going to do yet is kind of what this NIL space is. That's why we're all here. This is new. It's a new space in general, let alone this summit. So ladies, for those that were not allowed inside, what was this event like? What did you take away? Give them the teeth.

Kaleigh: So I think the first thing, we've all kind of talked about this a little bit, but giving the inside scoop, we didn't know what to expect. This is the first NIL Summit that's ever happened in history. So it's pretty cool to be a part of that experience, because we're able to like tell people, "Hey, like we were the first like people to ever go to something like this." So it was really cool. Didn't know what to expect, but definitely it didn't... my expectations weren't not met, and weren't like overly like over the top about it, but I think, we'll talk a little bit about how our experiences was.

Sam: Yeah. The expectation? What about you, Alex?

Alex: Yeah, I would say that I also came in with really no expectations, so I can't really say that it exceeded it or it went below it because I didn't have any expectation because it is the first one.

I didn't know what I was looking for. I didn't know what was going to happen. What was going to be the setup. I just knew that I wanted to make as many connections with other athletes, brands, listen to other people's insight. And I think that's exactly what I got. We met so many good people this weekend and got other people with different paths. We got their insights and I felt like that was the most valuable thing that I could have gotten out of this experience.

Sam: So you're saying the best part was the networking?

Alex: Oh, for sure.

Sam: What was your favorite conversation that you had this weekend and with who?

Alex: My favorite conversation was with Darian, he's a TikToker. He does TikToking with his wife, and he's actually not a college athlete anymore. So it was kind of exciting to hear about how he transferred over. He just graduated, so he really didn't get the full experience of NIL, but kind of taking advantage of it when he was in college. And now leveraging that into his professional life and personal life and just past college. But that was super interesting.

Sam: What about you, Kaleigh? What's your favorite conversation?

Kaleigh: I saw, I think it was the first day, Meta was introducing and presenting an award and they were talking and they had a bunch of people's faces on there. So I recognized the face and was like, "Oh, I feel like I want to meet this guy." His name was Dev, he works for Meta. And I saw him walk by, he had a beard and it was very like, I was like, "Oh, that's definitely him." So I went up to him, super confident, wanted to introduce myself. We talked a lot about just, I feel like you have to get personal with them. You know what I mean?

I just wasn't there to, yes, I was there to pitch myself, but I also wanted to know him on a personal level and just see where he came from. And that's the biggest thing when you network from someone that has so much experience, it's like you... Something I've learned in school, you let them talk as much as possible. And then you add on because you're really trying to observe and you're really trying to learn. So, hopefully, I got his number. We connected. We're going to definitely get coffee in DC, so.

If you're watching this Dev, don't flake on me. So I super excited about that. Yeah. So we were texting back and forth.

NIL Summit Takeaways, an Athlete Breakdown

Sam: I want to know. Well, I guess other people would probably want to know, like one, obviously there was a lot of student athletes, but there was a lot of brands and companies, and there was a huge educational segment of it. So if someone was going to walk into the door, what was the best part, other than networking, you know what I mean? Like the educational piece, what did you guys learn, who was teaching who did you like that was speaking? What companies were impressive? Other than obviously, Meta.

Kaleigh: That's a good question. I think Tim Tebow's... What he was talking about. I think a lot of the messages were the same and it was all about like, if there's one thing that took away was being genuine, and making real connections. Because you're thrown into this, we're all thrown into this world, now, and it's so new, and we have little education on it, and it's like, we all can get wrapped up in something like this so easily. So it's like taking a step back, really understanding, educating yourself.

But Tim Tebow was talking about being a passionate person and being an energetic person. There's a difference. Passion is something that you would sacrifice for. So it's like, you need to be more of a passionate person, you need to do things that like make you passionate rather than energetic. Because at the end of the day, if things aren't going well, are you going to be that passionate person that's going to sacrifice? Or you going to be that person that's energetic and like going to be upset, or not going to get yourself out of it because you're just energetic about it and not passionate? So, I liked that. That was one of my biggest takeaways.

Sam: And he really was talking. It's cool that you got that takeaway, because I had listened to him and I don't know I was in like the admin side of Tim Tebow, not the athletes side, but there's some athletes in there. So I don't know if his conversation was different than what I heard, but a lot of it was actually about his NFT project.

Kaleigh: Not at all. He was more talk... The talk was real purpose.

The Importance of Authenticity for Athletes

Sam: On the athletes side, what was your favorite part? I know those days were long. You guys were in that room all day long.

Kaleigh: It was long, but it was worth it. For sure.

Alex: Yeah. I think that the common message between all of the people who are performing at the highest level for NIL was saying no to brands, actually doing your background work on the brand and the values that they have and what they stand for, because yeah, $10,000, $20,000 looks great. But if that has backlash behind it, that can actually lose you more money just because you said yes at the time. So that can close a lot of doors in the upcoming years. So making sure that you're staying authentic to your brand and actually like the brands that you're promoting.

Sam: I love that you said that conversation. My favorite conversation again, not that anybody asked, but was with Kasey, who is a TikToker and her main thing was everyone says, take advantage or optimize your time as an athlete, but how do you build a platform outside of just sports? Because this is going to end for you girls. You know what I mean? It comes to an end always, but something she was saying was, using this platform, but building a brand for life, not just my brand around sports. And I think that's interesting that you said that, because she gets paid to do this. That's what she's doing. But the value in finding the right partnership, I think, is something that's extremely powerful and you can kind of pick that up this weekend. You know what I mean? So, speaking of brands, which ones did you talk to? Not to call them out, but I mean, I guess we should. Cause they should like subscribe, follow and give you guys an NIL deal. So this weekend, who is there that you guys... what's your number one pick if you had to decide on someone?

Kaleigh: No, I don't know. I feel like, if there was one thing, I want to be completely honest. I feel like there should have been more brands there. It was a very educational summit, but I'm also the type of person that can listen all day, but if I'm not getting that one-on-one experience, I feel like a lot of things were educational, but it was all day and there was... I feel like as booths, I like to go up to people and really want to get that one-on-one experience. And I feel like as a summit, to give constructive criticism, it would be to have more brands, because there were definitely brands here and there that I was like, "All right," it's more about that person.It wasn't about the brands for me. If that's a person working for a brand, I want to be connecting with them and understanding where they come from, what their background is, what their strategies are, and stuff like that. So it's not necessarily a brand that I was like, "Oh, I really like this," it was the people that I met that maybe worked for some of the brands.

Sam: Well, that is good feedback. Speaking of brands, I need you to talk about your clothing brand Kaleigh.

Kaleigh: Yeah. So I started a clothing brand, talking a little bit about NIL in my experience, my freshman year, I drafted up a clothing brand called Live a Little. It's because of my little slogan. I always went by that and I think it's super important to like, just understand literally the YOLO is true. You only live once. I couldn't name the clothing brand YOLO. It would've been a little corny, but Live a Little was always what I used to say whenever I was scared to do something, or take risks, or even honestly be myself. So I started that, but I wasn't ever allowed to promote it because of NIL. I wasn't allowed to be in any of the newspapers, any of the Baltimore programs, any of the PR stuff at school, so I had to say no to a lot of things.

And then right when I kind of slowed down with Live a Little that's when everything was like, oh, you can use your name and image and likeness now. And I was kind of juggling so many things, like brands. Having my own brand, doing the marketing work for a brand. But I had to worry about my own brand, but it was like, I wasn't in it for the money for Live a Little. It was all about seeing people on campus having it on. All my friends wore it and all my friends' friends wore it. And people knew at like other colleges, so it was really cool. But yeah, if you want to check it out, it's Live a Little, but I'm definitely looking to do more with fashion, and in that industry, because I think as an athlete, and a female athlete, it's super important, and I love being able to express who I am through the clothes that I wear.

Sam: Well, now that NIL's a thing, are we going to pick it back up?

Kaleigh: That's been a question that everyone keeps asking me. I get text messages, like, "Hey, like your website's blocked right now. Like, can you like start it?" And I think I definitely would love to hire a group of people to keep the social media running. And I'm not all about necessarily the clothes of it. It's the platform. It's the group. So if I can keep the platform running with having a couple things of merch being sold every couple weeks, and I hire artists to do... I love hiring artists that are in certain categories in life. So like LGBTQ+ artists, people of color, all these artists, I like to hire them to do their art and then sell it. Especially if they're an athlete, it's even better. So having them, maybe every couple months, doing a drop with that and then donating it to something, like something in the Baltimore area. I definitely want to keep that going. I think just right now, I'm taking a pause from everything and just soaking up knowledge and taking time for myself. Because I feel like, as an athlete, I never did that.

Sam: Well, I feel like you're really taking advantage, both of you, personally. I feel like that's why we brought both of you here in particular. Is that, what we were talking about before, using NIL as a platform, but using it for more, literally what you were just saying, is that... So if NIL was a thing, since you were a freshman, how do you think it would've changed things for you?

Alex: I think I definitely would've taken social media more seriously. Now, being on the back end of my career, I'm trying to film more stuff, and do more stuff in the locker with my teammates and stuff. And I feel like back then I did it, but I didn't really like put any thought behind it, you know?

I think people would've enjoyed to see that like, hey, I have new information, because even graduating high school early and going to college, there's not very many people that do that in athletics. So that's a platform that I'm going to use.

Kaleigh: It's a behind the scenes. It's so cool for younger people to see that stuff, now. And it's like, crap. Like I just graduated. Luckily I have fifth year, but next year I really want to do day in the life, because there's little girls that watch us and is like, I want to be like that. And I want to be able to be like, I can tell you all about it. I can show you all about it.

Balancing NIL, Athletics, and Mental Health as an Athlete

Sam: I even want to see that, to be honest. No, really, as a non-athlete, that's why I started kind of getting into this side of things is because we do care, because not everybody can relate to you guys and all that you do. So, even what you were just saying like, "Oh, I have to film, I have to do this." Like something that I've noticed that I can only imagine, it's hard to create content, be consistent, put yourself out there, figure out a brand, and all these things in general, let alone also being a student athlete? That balance has to be so freaking hard.

Kaleigh: There's a good point to that. I think if there was a negative, if I had to say negative side of NIL, it would be, it's just an add on, now.

It's like, we go to school, we have no, like we go to school, you know? And there's non-athletes out there that, I always laugh at this, that always are like, "We have no time. What do we do? We have no time to do all the... Our homework, we're asking for extensions." And so as an athlete, we have to time manage that. And then now this and I also I feel like it's going to be pressuring so many athletes. I need to be making content. I need to be building a brand. I need to be doing this. And it's so overwhelming.

So I think that's going to be just a huge thing. And mental health is super big. So it all just plays a huge factor. So I think that might be... And it just goes along with social media, just impacting people in, maybe, a negative way. I think social media can be a great tool, but at the same time, I think it's just like... I'm even overwhelmed. I think we're all overwhelmed when it came out. It's so overwhelming. I'm a very creative person, but I think I overthink everything because it's like, "Oh," and then it's like, "Do I post this?" Like, "Is this okay to post? Am I going to get judged?" And we're in this environment where it's just, it's so [inaudible].

Sam: Right. Do you feel pressure, especially you, you have a really big TikTok following, low key. But once you... A lot of people are focused on getting that following. Nobody talks about them keeping that following.What are you going to do? You have a lot of followers, you can't just let that go. Do you feel pressure, even as an athlete, when you graduate, keeping up with that brand, those followers don't go away. Do you feel pressure?

Alex: I think, definitely that's something I think of. Like Kaleigh was saying, I think there's a lot of pressure. It's very overwhelming when you do get a bigger following. It's like, "Okay, I have a big following. I know a lot of brands do, honestly, look for big followings, so I have to keep this." So that means, okay, now I have to be creating more content. And my content is, especially with TikTok, your content can flop so easily.

Because, I mean, what kind of following you have, your engagement rate and stuff like that. If I post a TikTok and it flops, okay, I have to be thinking about what my followers want to see next. Because I don't want a brand. If I have 60,000 followers on TikTok, I don't want a brand coming to my page and my videos have 200 views. You know? It just doesn't makes sense. So always in the top of my mind, I'm thinking, "Okay, what kind of videos on my page do well?"

And like Kaleigh was saying, social media can be overwhelming, and NIL can be a negative thing, but I think also it is going to... There's a positive side of it, because a lot of people are now going to be authentic. And I think we're going to be able to relate on another level, because I feel like more people now are trying to build that platform and relate to other people and connect. So we're going to know what other people are going through. We're going to be like, okay, we're not the only people going through this. Like you just said, athletes are, we're overwhelmed. There's a lot of stuff going on. So if I go on TikTok and I'm talking about it, it's going to build a whole athletic community of a bunch of athletes that are overwhelmed, you know?

So I feel like, with the mental health aspect, people are going to know like, okay, I'm not alone in this. Every athlete is feeling this way. So I feel like it comes with its pros and cons for sure.

Sam: What do you guys think the NIL space in general could do to assist the, I don't want to say issues, but, I don't know, struggles, difficulties, like you guys were just saying, the balance, the mental health, the expectations, the pressure, what could... And I also knew, you know what I mean? I think everybody's figuring it out as they go. In your mind, as an athlete, what could this space as a whole do to bridge that gap?

Kaleigh: I think there's a lot. I mean, you already see it. You see Sedona that was there at the summit this week, and she started the NCAA, women's fund for, just the merch, and that was just a huge thing for equal pay with women. Just a lot of that stuff. I think mental health is a really big thing, I think, and the LGBTQ space is also a big thing. Just building a community and being like, "Oh, I know this person, like, I know, like, I relate to this person and the fact that I'm able to connect with them and meet them on social media and then maybe eventually meet in person." I know so many people virtually, and when I meet them in person, it feels the same. It feels like we've been texting and I'm like, oh my God, we've never met in person.

So it's really cool because you can still meet someone without being with them. It's obviously not the same personally, like for me, but it's still, I think it's going to bridge a lot of gaps with the topics that are talked about because you understand that you're not alone in it.

Sam: So community from you sounds like what they could be bridging. What do you think? What tips do you have in the NIL space?

Alex: I say maybe not NIL, but like NCAA. They could support us more. If that makes sense. If somebody has a really good message, I understand that this might be a little gray area because some stuff can be controversial. So it might be harder to put that on bigger platforms, but even like Sedona, she did something on women and children, raising, fundraising for that. I feel like that could be a great thing for them to-

Kaleigh: To help promote.

Alex: Right, to help promote that on their platform. You know? And I think there is a gap, honestly, not even just between stuff that NIL can do. I think us as athletes, because they were talking about it earlier, women's basketball is not going to be paid the same as women's golf. We're all athletes, right? How do we close that gap and get people interested? Yeah, you may not like golf as much. It's not as televised, but we're all female athletes. So really just supporting each other too as an athlete community.

Why Confidence is a Game-Changer in NIL

Sam: Totally. Well guys, we are in, actually my Airbnb, it's a little content headquarters. So there's something buzzing out this window now, but great conversation. Thank you guys, one, for taking the time and, two, really for educating people that weren't even allowed to go in and having those deeper conversations I think is valuable. So anything, any last remarks that you got that people need to know?

Kaleigh: No, I just, I'm super grateful for this opportunity with MarketPryce and being able to meet you guys. It's been so fun, it's been so much fun. So, if MarketPryce gets the opportunity to bring more athletes, or if you're in the space where you're an athlete getting picked by a school, definitely push yourself to try and come to something like this, because one conversation can really change your life. And then you can meet a lot of new people and a lot of friends if you put yourself out there, that's the biggest thing is just put yourself out there. Be confident. Even if you aren't super confident, just act like it, and it will eventually happen, and manifest everything. But, definitely shout out to MarketPryce for doing this. It's been absolutely amazing. And everyone on the staff, I'm super excited to watch MarketPryce grow as a company and definitely to be a part of that. Really awesome.

Sam: We were lucky to have you. Anything else you got to wrap this thing up?

Alex: No, thank you MarketPryce for sending us. We had the time of our lives.

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