When the first notes of Enter Sandman are played on Virginia Tech’s campus, the ground in Blacksburg literally shakes as Hokie fans start jumping. This moment in Lane Stadium is described as a cauldron of noise, the most electrifying entrance in college sports, and the Terror Dome. Hokie student-athletes put it all on the line when the fans start jumping. Now, Hokie student-athletes will have an opportunity to do the same with their personal brands through the JumpStart program.
Through an enhanced partnership with INFLCR, VT Athletics is launching JumpStart, an immersive name, image, and likeness program which will empower current Hokie student-athletes with the knowledge and resources to build their personal brands, seek out business opportunities, and write their future while living in their present. Hokie student-athletes will have the tools, tips, and training to maximize their individual benefits. Virginia Tech can grow your personal brand and is equipped to deliver tremendous results in this area.
“It is an exciting time to be a student-athlete, and especially a Hokie” said Whit Babcock, Director of Athletics. “There is so much positive momentum in our department right now. We are thrilled to launch JumpStart in order to connect our student-athletes with the tools “and knowledge to expand the impact of their personal brand. The student-athlete experience is constantly changing and we are fully committed to supporting our student-athletes in this process. The Virginia Tech brand continues to elevate across the board, from athletics to academics, and the global recognition paired with the JumpStart initiative creates a consistent path to success for student-athletes during their careers as Hokies and into their professional lives.”
Blacksburg, one of the best college towns in America, has unique opportunities for student-athletes who have the opportunity to become local heroes in the community while also competing on a national stage with a household brand behind them. As a result, there are unique opportunities which Hokie student-athletes will become the beneficiaries of.
Branding opportunities for Hokie student-athletes will be supported and bolstered through incredible national partnerships with media entities including ESPN, ABC, and the ACC Network. Additionally, over 250,000 living alumni create a multitude of opportunities for business ventures within the Hokie community across the world. Through the world renowned Pamplin School of Business, student-athletes can participate in classes to learn about personal branding, monetization of content, career planning, and entrepreneurship, all taught by titans of industry.
As the JumpStart program helps student-athletes leverage their reach, influence, and personal brands, INFLCR’s digital platform will play a critical role by offering education, social media metrics, market valuations, and other important elements for growing personal brands.
JumpStart will enable Hokie student-athletes to measure, evaluate, and analyze data related to their own brand. Moreover, they will continue to access videos, photos, and graphics provided by Virginia Tech’s Brand Advancement department to communicate their story and success through their own social media channels, as has been the case for the last few years. Hokie student-athletes will succeed in this era with the help of branding presentations and consistent coaching in this space. As an example, Christian Darrisaw, recent Hokies Football Student-Athlete and 2021 First Round NFL Draft pick, grew his Instagram follower count by over 30% in one year. As a team per individual accounts, the Hokies Football team was provided over 7,000 pieces of content and witnessed nearly 1m impressions.
The JumpStart initiative will capitalize and expand on many of the programs already offered through the Hokies Student-Athlete Development program, including:
Programming, including speaker series from industry experts, entrepreneurs, former student-athletes, and leadership training
- Industry expert speaker series, including but not limited to:
- Bridget Ryan Berman, Hokie alum and former CEO, board member and advisor who has successfully led consumer strategy, multi-channel operations and organizational development at leading global fashion and luxury goods companies, including Ralph Lauren, Apple and Giorgio Armani. She has served in numerous executive leadership capacities, including Chief Executive Officer of Victoria’s Secret Direct, and Chief Experience and Strategy Officer at Enjoy Technology.
- Donna Wertalik, a marketer with 27 years of experience, starting in industry at Nestle Food, then pivoting to several global marketing and advertising firms. Some of her most successful campaigns are “Dove Real Beauty”, “The Science of Sports with Gatorade and Claritin, which earned Wertalik National Telly’s and Addy’s along the way. Her current role, as Professor of Practice, encompasses both teaching and service. In her teaching, she engages with students through interactive class instruction, mentoring, job placement, internships and building strategic alliances with key corporations, such as Google, Facebook, Netflix, NBA2k and Nascar (to name a few) that resulted in recruitment of VT marketing students. To date, Donna’s strategic alliances have resulted in the placement of over 500 students in positions post-graduation.
- Members of the APEX Center for Entrepreneurs through Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business, one of Princeton Review’s Top 50 Entrepreneurship Programs in the country
Learn, Experience, Achieve, Develop
- Student Athlete Internship Program
- Student Athlete Mentorship Program
- Connect student-athletes with professionals and former athlete alumni to provide networking opportunities and professional connections
Life Skills Workshops
- Diversity & Inclusion: Focuses on embracing differences and learning to expand perspectives
- Financial Literacy “Show Me The Money”: Focuses on budgeting and spending decisions
- Social Media: Focuses on effective ways to utilize social media platforms in a positive manner and how to “build your brand” with your social media presence
- Time Management: Focuses on how to maximize how efficiently student-athletes use their time
- Dress for Success: Focuses on professional dress, what to wear for an interview, work attire, and what’s appropriate
Career Game Plan
Targeted 4-year career development program to help facilitate a student-athlete’s transition to their professional aspirations, with opportunity to receive limited-edition VT lined blazer upon completion of all four events.
- Major Matchmaker – Interests clarification and career exploration
- Resume Remix – resume development
- Career Jumpstart – Networking and interviewing preparation
- Beyond VT – Athletic transition and transferable skill identification
- Career/Internship Fair preparation
- Internship, post-graduate scholarship, and job search strategies
- Partnerships with professional organizations
Programming for student-athletes with professional athletics prospects
On INFLCR Verified: INFLCR provides VT with the content delivery and compliance platform to assist in the management and monitoring of student-athlete Name, Image, and Likeness activities. INFLCR’s Verified suite of products ensures Hokie student-athletes are provided the tools, content, education, and more to participate in upcoming opportunities from NIL legislation.
Powered by flagship new products like the Compliance Exchange administrator dashboard and Storyteller Playbook video library, INFLCR Verified enhances the student-athlete experience by offering a comprehensive solution for responsible brand-building on social media, as well as a fully compliant path to external commercial activity from NIL.
On INFLCR Plus: INFLCR’s NIL team assists VT in the implementation of content, compliance, and recruiting strategies to support the Hokies in navigating new challenges and dynamics coming from eventual student-athlete Name, Image, and Likeness commercial activities. INFLCR’s Plus offerings equip VT athletics staff with the software, assets, and guidance to maximize their messaging to potential recruits, while providing unique insights for current student-athletes looking to build their brands and benefit from future NIL opportunities.
As VT launches JumpStart, INFLCR’s NIL team works to provide technology, resources, and support aimed at providing best-case scenarios for Hokie student-athletes who will soon look to participate in monetization activities or better market themselves for career opportunities from their NIL.
On Navigate/Fair Market Value: INFLCR Plus athletes will now have an estimated Fair Market Value “FMV”, powered by Navigate in the “My Metrics” section of their INFLCR app. Navigate will provide an independent fair market valuation algorithm, allowing athletes to be more confident when agreeing to NIL deals per category. This custom algorithm will utilize the extensive social media activity tracked within INFLCR.