Sons of Saturday Slam Jam is a “Slam Dunk” for Virginia Tech and NIL
Slam Jam caps off year of $50k+ of NIL contributions to VT Athletes from Sons of Saturday
This past November, the Sons of Saturday released an all-access production taking a look at the Virginia Tech Basketball program ahead of the 2023 campaign. While the content came as a fun surprise and unique look into the program, it served as an avenue for much more.
The production was the brainchild of Billy Ray Mitchell. Drawing inspiration from Barstool’s trip to visit Buzz Williams and the Hokies back in 2019. The vision was to recreate that production with a new cast of characters while also tying in a way to support local businesses.
Slam Jam took place on the morning of October 26 before the Thursday night game vs. Syracuse. It involved five members of the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team and two from the women’s team. A few coaches were part of the production as well, and of course, Billy Ray, Pat Finn, Ed Williams, and Pete Bertheaud from the Sons of Saturday team.
“Slam Jam was a really cool way for our fans to get a little behind the scenes version of our players, program, and facilities. Our guys were able to show their personalities in a different way rather than a formal interview. The lighthearted nature of it made it comfortable for all. The way Sons of Saturday is highlighting the positive things going on at VT is appreciated by all. We look forward to continuing to build and grow the relationship with those guys, so do our players who liked the opportunity to help grow their own individual brands.”
“It's the rare quadruple win as one may call it!" Billy Ray said. “Student athletes can grow their brand and form relationships with businesses and entrepreneurs from their community. Businesses grow their brand recognition from associating with the best influencers within their community and customer demographic. The fan base gets a unique view behind the doors of Hahn Hurst. And admittedly, this was a great way for us to elevate our brand as well.”
Sons of Saturday’s focus on brand building and NIL
The first ever Slam Jam was a success. It raised over $10,000, capping off a year where the Sons of Saturday generated over $50,000 in NIL efforts spanning across dozens of Virginia Tech athletes.
"Since Sons of Saturday began in 2019, one of our core missions was to elevate and promote the people that make Blacksburg so special to all of us. Most notably the incredible student athletes we all cheer on on throughout the year, or the Hokie owned businesses that aim to connect with the community. The NCAA allowing student athletes to profit off of their Name Image and Likeness allowed us to connect the two and use our platform to provide opportunities for businesses and student athletes to benefit off of one another."
One such brand that has gained a lot of traction over the past 15 months is the Queens of Cassell podcast, featuring women’s basketball stars Georgia Amoore and Liz Kitley.
Georgia and Liz are easily two of the most recognizable figures on campus, due their historic careers on the court and magnetic personalities off. The growth of their brands off the court has been recognized by fans of not only Virginia Tech, but women’s basketball as a whole.
“As a female who works in sports, I’ve had a front row seat watching the transition and growth of women’s sports. A big reason for that is fans buying into the athletes themselves. Liz and Georgia first captivated people’s attention with their play on the court but those same people have stayed because of their personalities and the people they are off of it. Thanks in large part to Liz and Georgia’s podcast, they’ve helped create a community that wants to support them, Virginia Tech women’s basketball and in turn, the women’s game as a whole.”
Liz joined ACC PM to talk Queens of Cassell, the chemistry of the program and to preview the matchup at 🏰 this weekend— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) December 16, 2022
🎥 ACCN pic.twitter.com/6zn7zastsA
Player-hosted podcasts have become quite popular over the last decade spanning across all ages and sports. While this is a great avenue for athletes to have a one to one relationship with their fans, it can lead to some outside criticism. One of the most common critiques regarding these shows call into question whether it can act as a distraction for the players or the team as a whole. During an interview with Coach Kenny Brooks, he spoke on how Queens of Cassell has impacted VTWBB.
The podcast originally launched on the Sons of Saturday YouTube channel in November of 2022. Since then, Liz and Georgia launched their own channel and have generated over 200,000 views from their podcast across both channels on YouTube alone.
Over the 13 months of recording, their show has detailed Virginia Tech women's basketball's historic run to the Final Four through Liz and Georgia's point of view. They also conducted interviews with teammates, coaches, members of the media, and even other players from across the ACC.
“Queens of Cassell has given Liz and I an opportunity to reach out to the community and build strong relationships. It has also given us an opportunity to grow as people and communicators, and build our repertoire beyond being athletes.”
The growth of the Queens of Cassell brand over the past year has also expanded in to the merchandising world. Liz and Georgia have collaborated with the SWVA shop (a Hokie-owned apparel company based in Lynchburg, Virginia) to create unique apparel that you see all over the stadium at any game you attend.
“Queens of Cassell has been a great outlet and given us an opportunity to share not only our basketball experiences, but our personalities as well. The benefits have shown themselves in multiple ways from increased exposure to profiting off of our NIL.”
Sons of Saturday’s Lasting Impact on the NIL Space
Hunter Cattoor has participated in multiple Sons of Saturday events and interviews over his storied career in Blacksburg. Most notably, Fall Kickoff in 2022, and multiple interviews over the years.
“When NIL came to the surface, they (the Sons of Saturday) were the first ones to help me and try to grow my brand and they asked for nothing in return,” he recalled. “They love Virginia Tech and want to see the place grow in every sport and with every student athlete. I am grateful for everything they have done for me.”
The reciprocal relationship is especially valued by Billy Ray. “Slam Jam was a fantastic opportunity for all parties involved. Both basketball teams have so many awesome personalities, It was great!” he said.
Finn concurred, reflecting on the bigger picture behind the Slam Jam. “I love working with these guys, man. What’s most rewarding is working alongside a program that you believe in because of how good the people are. I know we are always going to have a top-notch experience when collaborating with those folks over in Hahn-Hurst. It’s truly rewarding!”
Sons of Saturday aims to capitalize on the success of Slam Jam. “Following the positive feedback received from the fanbase, players, coaches, and businesses involved; we are absolutely looking to expand and replicate initiatives like this in the future,” added Billy Ray. The Sons of Saturday have begun preliminary plans to conduct similar events with additional programs in this upcoming spring semester.
Return on Investment for Sponsors
Making sure that student athletes are rewarded for their efforts while aligning with brands is just as important as making sure the businesses are seeing positive results. This leads to long lasting relationships that make collaborating on projects in the future an easy decision for all parties.
Over the course of just this football season, businesses that aligned with the Sons of Saturday brand or collaborated on NIL related projects generated north of $80,000 in sales (based upon trackable referral data alone). That number is on track to grow in 2024.
To get involved, as a fan or as a business, email the Sons of Saturday at firstname.lastname@example.org
310 Rosemont has enjoyed working alongside Sons of Saturday & Queens of Cassell to promote our storefront in the heart of Blacksburg! As a small business rooted in the Virginia Tech community, we feel it is important to stay well connected to campus, and we are very grateful that our collaboration with this team has allowed us to do so. Thank you to Sons of Saturday, and Liz & Georgia for helping us get the 310 Rosemont name out there!
Wellness Check with Liz:— Sons of Saturday Podcast (@SonsofSatVT) November 14, 2023
What do we think about Georgia singing the National Anthem before a #Hokies game?
Make sure to stop by our Blacksburg partner Renew & restore wellness and mention Sons of Saturday for $25 off your first IV.https://t.co/AL7aQUGAdx pic.twitter.com/6BJZXnEq34
"We were excited to participate in Slam Jam because of the unique opportunity to work with the Queens of Cassell and spread the word about our business. We know Liz and her teammates prioritize recovery as much as their workout regimen—and it shows! You don’t have to be an all-star basketball player to get access to the same recovery techniques. It was cool to run compression therapy with Liz and share some of our services that we are now offering the New River Valley!"