The Selection Process
First, both student athletes were selected via the nomination form on our website. This allows for anyone to nominate any athlete for Runners Rising to consider pursuing an NIL agreement with. In the justification we look for things that match our core values of integrity, inclusivity, action, community, and leadership. Each nominee’s ability to match those values are discussed by our staff of volunteers, and then voted on by the staff and donors at the trustee level and above. A simple majority of votes in each category selects the student athlete we choose to work with. OF NOTE: On field performance does not directly factor into this selection. That said, if a nominee is identified as a leader on their respective team, we will take that into consideration (in line with our core value of leadership). We also consider relevance to the sports in season, as to maximize the Athlete’s exposure for NIL opportunities and brand development independent of Runners Rising.
March’s Official Athletes
For our first round of Official Athletes, the team has selected Lexi Bolton and Jonathan Tapia. In parenthesis you’ll see one of our core values, and this is to show the correlation for why they were selected.
Lexi, a Forward for the UTSA Women’s Soccer team was selected for her leadership as a three-year starter on the team (Leadership). She’s a Business Management Major, and her dedication to academic excellence has earned her recognition on the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll and C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal three times for each (Integrity). Moreover, Lexi was one of the first female athletes to interact with us when we announced Runners Rising on social media. Her initiative paved the way for her being the first female athlete we ever entered into a NIL deal with (Action).
Jonathan, an infielder/outfielder for UTSA’s Men’s Baseball team has been a starter for four years and is playing in his super-senior year (Leadership). He’s a Kinesiology Major and similar to Lexi, has made the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll four times (Integrity). Uniquely, Jonathan is a native San Antonian, graduating from Northside ISD’s Sandra Day O’Connor High School located in Helotes, Texas. How awesome to see someone who elected to remain home for college, then lead and succeed both on and off the field, highlighting the quality of San Antonio’s local sports production (community).
Official Athlete NIL Deals vs Other Runners Rising NIL Deals…What’s The Difference?
Many of you may have noticed that we’ve had multiple deals with different student athletes since we launched on February 18th. The question you may be asking yourself is “well wait, aren’t those official athletes, too? Don’t they represent Runners Rising if you’re in a deal with them?” The short answer is yes. The long answer is the title of “Runners Rising Official Athlete” is tied to a larger monetary payout for the deals we enter into, and part of being an Official Athlete means they will be featured multiple times throughout the month in which they were selected. For the other athletes who we choose to work with without Official Athlete status, we compensate them for their time and contributions, be that social media takeovers, blog posts, interviews, etc. However, these are one-off engagements. We do this to maintain our flexibility and impact as many Student Athletes as possible.
Now What? How can I help?
The announcement of Lexi and Jonathan is part of our line of effort to create organic opportunities for UTSA’s student athletes, and it’s tied directly to contributions we receive. The more we get in recurring donations, the more we’re able to support UTSA’s student athletes. To help us, we ask you to continue to support us, be that through donations, by telling people about us, or if you’re a business owner or someone with a passion for mentorship, engage with us and help us provide a space where together as a community we can develop and empower the next generation of leaders from UTSA via NIL opportunities. Our combined action will allow us to generate these Runners Rising organic opportunities, as well as make the San Antonio community a leader in the national NIL space.