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Candace Parker to Lead Mentorship Program With Adidas NIL Athletes

Adidas announced it signed its first group of athletes to name, image and likeness (NIL) deals Tuesday, an all-female class that will have one of the WNBA’s most accomplished players as a guide.

Two-time MVP and WNBA champion Candace Parker is creating a mentorship program with Adidas to help support collegiate athletes and their futures in the NIL era. The 15 recently signed Adidas athletes will be among the first to have access to Parker’s guidance and experience in creating a strong foundation for a successful collegiate career and future.

“I have the incredible opportunity to pay it forward with the next generation of athletes,” Candace Parker said in a press release. “I am so happy to be partnered with Adidas who is aligned with my commitment to developing this mentorship program which will set these extraordinary student-athletes up for greatness in sport and life.”

Parker has already met with Adidas’s 15 NIL partners, the first to be signed since the brand announced in March that more than 50,000 students will have the opportunity to profit off their NIL as part of Adidas’s “Impossible is Nothing” campaign. Through the program, eligible students across 23 Division I sports will have the opportunity to become a paid affiliate brand ambassador with Adidas, a first for a major sports brand.

The landmark all-female inaugural group consists of 15 athletes across seven D-I sports, including Louisville basketball’s Hailey Van Lith, Nebraska volleyball’s Nicklin Hames and Arizona State gymnastics’s Izzy Redmond.

Billie Jean King with Adidas NIL athletes.

The 15 recently signed Adidas athletes will be mentored by Parker. 

In addition to meeting with Parker, the 15 athletes had a chance to meet with mentors that included tennis legend and equality activist Billie Jean King, free-agent longtime WNBA player Layshia Clarendon and host and Peloton instructor Ally Love. This type of mentorship and monetary dedication by Adidas to women athletes is something that King has fought for throughout her life and career.

“It’s a step forward,” King says. “It’s another opportunity for them, it’s an opportunity for Adidas, it’s an opportunity for mentorship, it’s an opportunity for them having a platform. … These are our future leaders and our future citizens of the world. … This is what it’s all about.”

Along with its NIL advancements, Adidas also announced the next stage of its partnership with Athlete Ally, an LGBTQ inclusion organization in sports. With the increased commitment, Adidas will help create safe spaces at eight D-I schools partnered with the brand to have open conversations about acceptance, inclusivity and allyship in sports.

“In order to change culture, we have to change people, and that takes time and energy and investment,” Clarendon says. “For Athlete Ally to continue this partnership with Adidas in order to build those relationships and to educate people, it’s invaluable, because that’s where it starts.”

In the year that marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX legislation, these advancements become all the more meaningful. As Love put it simply: This is history.

“There are moments in time that occur that become historical only when you look back at them, and I think this was one of those times,” Love says. “I know it will go down in history that these collaborations, the money, the connection, the people that showed up, the names that graced that stage [happened].” 

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