TEMPE, Ariz. - Student athletics have changed dramatically in the last year thanks to the NCAA's Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) policy. It’s not just about car commercials and Instagram posts.
Because of this, an Arizona State student is uncovering a new passion thanks to the policy.
Before Kate Fitzgerald started playing beach volleyball for ASU, she had an idea in high school to create volleyball apparel.
"Volleyball is one of the largest women's sports in the world, if you combine beach and indoor and there’s nothing to represent it for lifestyle apparel. Something for athletes and family to support off the court when they’re not playing," Fitzgerald said.
She put it on the back burner as a D1 athlete who couldn’t profit off the sport until NIL, and the idea was brought back to life.
"Hey, you know, this is still a problem and now there’s an opportunity to do it. Let’s give it a shot," she said.
After talking with compliance officers, she had a vision and worked hard to execute it.
This is where VBAmerica comes in.
Some tops represent ASU, and others, simply support the sport of volleyball.
She pitched her plan to the Global Sport Institute and Venture Devils and received $8,000 in grant funding.
"It was just like jaw drop for a complete day. Day the order came through, here we go, I’m excited. Took an hour and then got started on it," Fitzgerald said.
Now, VBAmerica is sold online and at every campus store at ASU. Fitzgerald says it was the top volleyball brand sold at ASU a week ago.
She said it’s all thanks to the changes in NIL.
"It’s more than just, hey a company will pay me to post on Instagram. There are so many opportunities …," she said.
She wants to expand and sell at the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, Grand Canyon University and beyond.
Fitzgerald started this year as a bio-med major, but thanks to this, she's finding a passion that she has no plans to give up.