UCLA soccer player Reilyn Turner has an impressive list of accolades, from Pac-12 Freshman of the Year to top goal scorer on her team.
While she doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, she’s quickly become a name, image, and likeness trailblazer by being the first college athlete to sign a deal with Nike.
In an interview during the Front Office Sports Title IX Summit, Turner reflected on the impact the law has had on her life, and what she hopes to see in the next 50 years in women’s sports.
“Without Title IX, I wouldn’t be at UCLA today,” Turner said. “Being able to have a scholarship is the only reason why I’m able to go to such an amazing school.” She added that the opportunity precipitates not just business opportunities, but also the potential to play professionally.
Now, Turner is juggling school, elite sports, the world of NIL, and using her voice — opportunities she says she wouldn’t have had without the path paved by Title IX.
NIL is one way that women’s sports athletes are finally getting some of the recognition and paychecks that they deserve.
In the beginning of the NIL era, Turner didn’t even realize her potential. She was unsure of the landscape, but eventually decided to look for an agent. Shortly after she signed with Wasserman, she landed the deal with Nike.
“It all happened pretty fast,” she said, “and honestly, it still doesn’t feel real.”
But months after that reality has set in, Turner is building on a strategy of using NIL to “reach out to the local areas and inspire the next generation to follow their dreams.”
“Something that people don’t really realize is women are extremely marketable,” Turner said.
But despite the gains made with Title IX — and NIL — women’s sports are still far from equal. Turner emphasized two areas that she thinks need to improve in the next 50 years: coverage for women’s sports and quality of facilities.
“What people are finally starting to see is that women in sports have a voice.”