BioSteel Sports Nutrition is betting on freshman women’s basketball player Azzi Fudd, signing her to an endorsement deal under the NCAA’s new name, image and likeness legislation that includes equity. Other athlete equity partners include Patrick Mahomes, Luka Dončić, Christen Press, Ezekiel Elliott, DeAndre Hopkins and Jalen Ramsey.
BioSteel co-founder and co-CEO, John Celenza, said the brand wanted to partner with student athletes to introduce its sugar-free hydration options to a new group of fans and communities. Miami quarterback D’Eriq King is the other college athlete on their roster currently.
“We wanted to work with Azzi specifically because she is a great athlete who embodies the values and authenticity that define our brand. I’m a big college basketball fan, and after hearing her story and meeting with her, it was a great fit. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome her to #TeamBioSteel, our elite team of ambassadors, and to support her on and off the court this season.”
Celenza also said it was important for the brand to bring Fudd in as an equity partner.
“Her story of growth and adversity, her maturity, and her level of talent make her a generational athlete. She’s someone who can sign with anyone and just get a check, but it makes it different when you actually own a piece of the brand you’re working with. We’re thrilled to have her on our team.”
For her part, Fudd is excited about the product itself. Founded by former NHL player Michael Cammalleri and Celenza, BioSteel bills its electrolyte-focused sports drink as a cleaner, healthier hydration option.
“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle has always been very important to me, and as a student-athlete, hydration is a critical part of that, on and off the court. As I move into the next phase of my career, it is really important that I continue to be smart about what I put into my body on a daily basis,” said Fudd. “Being able to team up with BioSteel, and having clean and sugar-free options, I am really excited about what this partnership will do for my hydration routine. I also believe in the mission and values of the company and the people at BioSteel who are supporting me.”
Fudd will participate in the same type of marketing activities as the other #TeamBioSteel athletes, which includes amplifying their latest products, partnerships and distribution deals via social media posts and appearances as they use the product in their everyday life.
Asked what potential athlete partners inquire about when it comes to BioSteel’s products, Celenza said there’s a big focus on the ingredients and the eco-friendly packaging.
“A lot of sports drinks on the market today are riddled with sugar and other artificial ingredients that can be harmful to the body. Athletes are looking for a cleaner way to maintain their daily hydration levels, and BioSteel offers premium hydration products that are all made with zero sugar, essential electrolytes and without harmful colors and preservatives. Our sports drinks come in five great tasting flavors and also come in an eco-friendly Tetra Pak, which is a key point of differentiation for the BioSteel brand.”
Celenza’s explanation isn’t lip service. The NIL era thus far has seen many of the most marketable student athletes focusing on brand fit versus making a quick buck. Today’s student athletes want to work with brands that are socially and environmentally conscious, good for their communities and good for their bodies.
For example, Fudd’s teammate Paige Bueckers, widely heralded to be one of the most marketable female student athletes, just announced her first NIL deal yesterday with StockX and emphasized how their values matched her own.
Unlike potential partnerships with men’s basketball players, brands like BioSteel and StockX, who are locking in women’s basketball players like Fudd and Bueckers, still have three to four years of collegiate play and potential March Madness runs. The upside for these brands in locking down these future superstars early has nearly limitless potential.