Lots of news out of Blacksburg this week as a new collective is launching and two existing collectives are announcing a merger. You may notice some of the same names involved in both collectives, which are expected to work collaboratively to better serve Virginia Tech athletes.
The Hokie Way Collective
The latest collective aiming to support Virginia Tech athletes is The Hokie Way, which describes itself as an “independent nonprofit organization that will create active engagements for Virginia Tech student-athletes with charitable goals.”
The Hokie Way will raise funds to support charitable organizations across the Commonwealth through the active engagement of Virginia Tech student-athletes who wish to use their names, image, and likenesses (NIL) to advance the work of charitable organizations. With the help of aligned collectives focused on NIL opportunities, The Hokie Way will assist in building cause-marketing partnerships.
“The Hokie Nation turns out strong to show its support. When we have a hurricane on a Thursday night [football game], we still show up!” said Jim Petrine, President of the Hokie Way Board of Directors. “Our fans are fantastic in that way, and support us greatly. We are the school with the lunch pail which symbolizes how everyone gets involved. That’s the right way to do NIL, and that’s The Hokie Way.”
Members of The Hokie Way Board of Directors include:
- Jim Petrine, President
- James Pearman, Treasurer
- Jim Cowan, Secretary
- Justin Robinson
- Nick Rush
- Bridget Ryan Berman
- Tyrod Taylor
- Jaila Tolbert
- Kelly Woolwine
“The Hokie Way is creating an opportunity for Virginia Tech student-athletes to seamlessly leverage their NIL in a way that will shine a light on the tremendous work being done by charitable organizations in Virginia,” said Sara Bohn, Executive Director of the United Way of the New River Valley. “The exposure will undoubtedly provide additional awareness and resources needed to support people within our communities.”
Triumph NIL and Hot Route Sports Marketing Merge
Additionally, Triumph NIL and Hot Route Sports Marketing today announced a merger in which the two entities will function as one group, Triumph, a full-service NIL sports marketing agency. Triumph will continue to develop custom partnerships for collegiate student-athletes with members of the business community, supporters and fans.
Kelly Woolwine, who founded Hot Route Sports Marketing, will serve as CEO of Triumph. Woolwine is an entrepreneur, business owner, consultant, and coach specializing in developing operational leadership designed to harness the potential of individuals to an end of high-level team success. He is the current CEO and co-founder of EvolutionHR, a staffing, recruiting, placement and consulting company. In addition, as owner of Frontier Consulting, he currently works as a leadership, HR and operational consultant.
“I was initially drawn to the NIL world out of passion for college sports and Virginia Tech,” said Woolwine. “It is a dream come true to join forces with the Triumph team, as they are equally as passionate about the same things. We have united under a goal of providing positive influence and valuable professional experience to our student-athletes.”
Robyn Jones will serve as the company COO. An influential brand strategist with a background in organizational management, sports marketing and the arts, Jones continues to be responsible for business operations on behalf of the company primarily managing corporate partnerships, ideation and execution. As COO of Joba Studio, she has helped to cultivate award-winning brand and marketing strategies and partnerships for numerous private, public and nonprofit organizations, from local start-ups and Fortune 100 companies to internationally recognized brands like GoPuff, Coca-Cola, Cigna, Clark Construction and Meta to name a few.
“From inception, Triumph has been about building a familial culture and achieving lofty goals through creative teamwork,” said Robyn Jones. “As a result, Triumph has built a foundation for long-term sustainability in the NIL space and will soon announce details of marketing partnerships providing more than half a million dollars in NIL sponsorships for Virginia Tech student-athletes.“
The full Triumph partnership includes: Woolwine, Robyn Jones (COO), Jim Cowan, Joey Harrington, Doug Hicks, Brenden Hill and Kevin Jones.
Triumph NIL Signs Four Football Athletes
Triumph NIL is also announcing the signing of Dax Hollifield, Da’Wain Lofton, Kaleb Smith and Malachi Thomas to NIL contracts.
“I’m really excited that these young men have chosen to represent Triumph as they begin building their personal business profiles,” said Brenden Hill, Triumph partner and former Virginia Tech football standout. “Triumph will serve each as a valuable resource as these athletes embrace their NIL potential and how it can impact each in unique and positive ways.”
Hollifield, a senior linebacker, returns for a fifth season having earned All-ACC Honorable Mention recognition for his 2021 campaign.
‘I’m excited to join the team at Triumph,” said Hollifield. “Being a student-athlete, you have a lot on your plate. I now have access to all of the tools needed to build a personal brand that is of the standard I set for myself on the field.
“The fact that Brenden and Kevin (Jones) are involved is important to me, because this place really is home for me and for them,” he added. “The brotherhood is deeper than just the players on the team now. It extends to legacy players. For those who have passed, for those to come…it speaks truth here.”
Lofton, a Sophomore wide receiver, says he’s looking forward to the opportunities the collective presents him to develop off the field.
“I feel blessed to be a member of Triumph,” said Lofton. “I felt like this was the right decision for me, because nothing is better than being a part of a group that has experience, great intentions, and provides all the tools I need to build my brand, while steering me in the right direction of NIL opportunities.”
A Senior wide receiver, Smith says his partnership with Triumph will allow him to balance his time better.
“I’m very excited to be with Triumph,” said Smith. “NIL is new and changing for athletes. Having a team to help guide you is important so that I can focus on football and school. I appreciate their backgrounds and look forward to working with them.”
A rising Sophomore, Thomas says signing with Triumph was an easy decision.
“I am excited to be a part of Team Triumph,” said Thomas. “I wanted to be with an team that cared about my best interests, my experience, and could help me build my brand to make the most of the NIL space. This decision was a no-brainer. I have a lot of trust in this team, they are Hokie alumni and they make me feel like family.”
Triumph partner and former Hokie football great Kevin Jones said, “Since I concluded my seven-year NFL career, it is evident that I’ve been very intentional with my time, energy and focus throughout my ten years in Blacksburg: God, family, education, student-athletes and branding on many different fronts.
“I love the NIL space and am fortunate to serve athletes as an experienced and true representative of what their lives can look like before, during, and after their college career,” he added. “I’ve built my career with the mindset of turning dreams into reality and empowering yourself so that you can empower others. What better way to accomplish this than through leveraging our nuanced programming. Triumph is bar none the best team I’ve ever been a part of. We are diverse, educated, experienced, and selfless. I’m excited to be a part of this team, on this unique timeline of college athletics, and I believe what we do is needed more now than ever before.”
Triumph’s athlete roster also includes former VT softball star pitcher Keely Rochard and baseball third baseman Carson DeMartini.