For Brands

How authenticity shaped Bella Rasmussen's viral NIL deal

“We were inspired by Bella’s story and her authenticity."

March 28, 2024

Bella Rasmussen after a game with Laguna Beach High School.

If Bella Rasmussen was ever put in a box, she looked for ways to break out.

At six years old, she realized a dream to follow in her brother’s footsteps and play football. Though the world casted doubt – even her supportive parents brought their fair share of skepticism – she pushed ahead. No flag football programs? Tackle it was.

She made history this Fall as a senior at Laguna Beach High School (Laguna Beach, CA), becoming the first girl to score two touchdowns in a varsity game. Bella Rasmussen? Don’t box her in.

“We tell girls at younger and younger ages that they have to be a certain way to appeal,” she said. “There’s a box we’re told to fit into. When I realized football wasn’t just fun, it would represent a change and a progression toward women being whatever they want to be?

“That was huge.”

Bella Rasmussen's viral NIL partnership

After she announced an NIL partnership with KeyWise AI on Access Hollywood, interview requests poured in. More than 24 national brands and media outlets covered her story. The NFL, On3 NIL, ESPN, BoardRoom, Overtime, MaxPreps, Front Office Sports, highlighther, Togethxr and others wrote stories and shared social media posts that generated tens of thousands of interactions.

Even pro athletes including USWNT and San Diego Wave FC star Alex Morgan celebrated the trailblazing Laguna Beach (California) star. It makes sense, given that Rasmussen was the first female high school football player to land an NIL deal.

"I honestly couldn't have ever imagined that my life would be where it is right now," Rasmussen told ESPN. "It was getting so much attention from people I never, ever could have dreamed of hearing from and it's just been so crazy to see where the platform is being taken right now."

An NIL partnership rooted in authenticity

Keywise AI uses typing patterns on smartphone keyboards to help users recognize when they could use a little extra support.

One of the app’s leading features, called Care Circles, allows friends, family, coaches and teammates alike to join a private group that receives alerts during such times. The goal? Breaking down the stigma around asking for help.

“We were inspired by Bella’s story and her authenticity,” said KeyWise Co-Founder Raeanne Moore. “She expressed a desire to use her platform to discuss her own mental health journey and inspire others on their personal journeys.”

That's the key to winning partnerships: An authentic interest from the student-athlete and the brand.

“KeyWise is specified to you, instead of having people try to deal with mental health in a certain way,” she said. “Mental health is talked about a lot, but it’s not always clear how to solve the problems you have.”

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