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Penn State Field Hockey’s Sophia Gladieux Exploring New Avenues In NIL With Student Collaboration

Penn State field hockey’s Sophia Gladieux has not only made waves in the world of athletics with her impressive accomplishments, but she has also built a strong personal brand off the field.

With a growing social media following and an interest in the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) landscape, the Big Ten Player of the Year is taking a unique approach to NIL by partnering with fellow Penn State student Amber Sanchez, who owns and operates a clothing company called “Whatever Apparel.”

Together, Gladieux and Sanchez have developed an athleisure line featuring leggings, sports bras, long sleeves, and biker shorts.

In addition to this partnership, Gladieux has engaged in other NIL deals, such as coaching for LEAP Hockey and representing Longstreth Sports as an athlete. Typically, external brands approach athletes for collaborations, offering products or monetary compensation in exchange for promotional posts on social media. However, the partnership between Gladieux and Sanchez showcases the potential for alternative NIL opportunities.

“This is more personable to me and my brand,” Gladieux said. “The process of getting to design the line was enjoyable for me.”

She had the opportunity to create her own logo and design a line that reflects her personal style, opting for a minimalist aesthetic. The six-piece collection features a subtle logo incorporating her initials and a field hockey stick.

Courtesy of Whatever Apparel

Impressed by the fact that Sanchez runs Whatever Apparel single-handedly, Gladieux praised her fellow student’s entrepreneurial spirit.

 “It’s super cool because she has no help,” Gladieux said. “She has all the tools and machinery to do everything on her own.”

Sanchez uses equipment to cut out each of the individual logos, a heat press to put them on the clothing article, and then packages and ships out all of the products.

Advertising the line on Gladieux’s social media helped generate pre-orders.

“I knew my sister, my best friends, and my mom were going to order,” Gladieux said. “But to see girls that follow me making orders was really cool.”

Gladieux mentioned that a majority of her following comes from the youth field hockey community. Frequently, girls ask for tips on field hockey and express their idolization of Gladieux.

“Almost every day I get one or two messages from girls asking tips about field hockey,” Gladieux said. “Sometimes girls or even their moms will message me saying how much I mean to them and that they really look up to me, which is so sweet. It really keeps me going and shows that my content is serving a purpose.”

Before Gladieux and Sanchez collaborated, the two didn’t have any prior relationship. Sanchez sent Gladieux a message and suggested a possible NIL deal.

Sanchez started Whatever Apparel while still in high school, but eager to expand her business, she sought out an athlete on campus for a collaboration.

“I really wanted to do an athletic line,” Sanchez said. “I was looking for athletes on campus and found that [Gladieux] seemed to be a perfect fit.” 

After several months of discussing ideas and design direction, the duo launched the collection through pre-orders at the beginning of the spring semester.

With the line’s immediate success, Gladieux and Sanchez are considering future collaborations, possibly extending to a more casual line that appeals to fans of all ages. Sanchez plans to collaborate with more Penn State students and expand her small business by working with athletes from other schools.

Only select sizes are still available, but orders for the signature line can be made on the Whatever Apparel website.

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About the Author

Theo Koch

Theo is a sophomore at Penn State majoring in marketing. He is from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both of his parents attended Penn State, so he was born into this. He enjoys watching all sports, outdoor activities, and spending time with family and friends. Feel free to reach out to [email protected] with any comments, questions, or concerns.

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