Within an athlete’s realm, there are any number of people and parts in a constant state of motion. Ally Redig wants to help facilitate that movement in a seamless way for her roster of clients. If you are an agent or an athlete, looking to make sure you are capitalizing on every opportunity, Ally Redig, and her company, Athlete Relations, are here to help you.
Being a woman in sports can be daunting and challenging, but Ally decided to take on a challenge head-on and create her own opportunity. She fearlessly started her own business in sports, founding Athlete Relations in 2018. Ally realized there was a need in the marketplace for someone to help streamline the lives of athletes. She offers any number of services to ensure continued and improved success on and off the field. Sports Agent Blog recently had the opportunity to connect with Ally to discuss her business, her inspirations, how she can help athletes and agents, and what it is like being a woman in sports.
SAB: How do you coordinate with agents? What does that look like for you?
AR: In an athlete’s life, there are a lot of different moving pieces and everyone always needs something. So, I kind of compare us to a funnel to bring all of those down through one single line of communication to the athlete. We coordinate with their agent, their financial advisor, if they have a marketing rep or publicist, trainers, masseuse, etc. and use a lot of organizational tools to make sure that each one of them has everything that they need to be in, basically, one million places at once. In addition, we utilize our partnerships to offer our clients great discounts and free products, so their agents are always really happy about that! So, in short, we work with all of the people in their lives and make sure that everyone has exactly what they need from the client and let the client focus on playing their game.
SAB: Women still have an incredible amount to overcome. But since you founded Athlete Relations in 2018, what are the most impactful changes you have witnessed for women in sports?
AR: I would say one of the biggest, if not, the biggest, change I’ve witnessed recently, would be the leadership positions that we’re really starting to see women taking now in the sports industry. Just to name a few in the last year, we have a female GM in baseball, a kicker in college football, so many women that are starting to trailblaze in the coaching sector, and that’s just starting to scratch the surface.
These women have incredible amounts of knowledge and talent to share with their clients, teammates, etc. and they’re getting hired, not because they’re a woman, but because they are the best person for the job. We are really seeing women be the first of something, and like Kamala Harris said about becoming the first female VPOTUS, they may be the first one in the position, but they will not be the last. It’s obviously something that I believe should have happened forever ago, but the fact that is happening now…we have to celebrate those wins and keep pushing forward to make sure they don’t become just one-time occurrences.
SAB: Who are the women in sports that you have always admired? Is there anybody specific?
AR: One of my best friends in the industry (and is basically family outside of it), is the CEO of The Draft Network, Paige Dimakos. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and intelligent, but on top of that, she’s a really good person, which is really hard to find in this industry. She’s always someone I can go to for advice, in addition to a few other co-workers I’ve had in the past…Kim Miller at NFL Network, Samantha Baggett, who works on Chris Harris Jr.’s PR team, Christen Lockett of LockettUp PR, just to name a few others, but there are truly so many. Also, being from Chicago, Sarah Spain always comes to mind. I’ve always looked up to her for having such a “take no nonsense” kind of attitude and standing her ground. And she and I have become friendly now, too, which is awesome!
SAB: So, on the flip side of that, are there any men in sports that you wish to highlight because they have consistently shined a light on women?
AR: There are so many men that are the “good ones,” and make sure that we’re given the same opportunities as everyone else and support us, but unfortunately, they get overshadowed sometimes by the bad ones. However, I always like to focus on the good. I think about every one of my clients that gave me a chance when I was just starting out. They didn’t do that because I was a woman, they did it because of the passion and the experience that I had. And they have supported me every day since. Unfortunately, as most women can attest to, there have been situations where inappropriate things have been said in professional settings, and my clients will be the first ones to step in and say, “That’s not okay. We are not talking to/around her like that.” And, believe me, I can hold my own, but just to know that they are going to support me and help to make sure that this stuff doesn’t happen behind my back, is a great feeling. Sometimes it is as simple as a text for International Women’s Day. So, I would say the men that I want to highlight are all of my clients, amongst so many other great guys in the industry.
SAB: I want to talk about Athlete Relations as a company. Is it a one-woman show or do you have a team of people behind you helping?
AR: It’s a one-woman show right now as far as client-facing goes, and I’ll probably keep it that way until it gets big enough to where I can kind of divide and conquer within the task list. However, on the back-end, I’ve had Mattie Lacey as my intern for over a year. She has been my go-to in so many situations, and has been able to gain valuable experience in the sports industry through helping with tasks for our clients. And Bri Mathis will be joining us for a graduate project and I’m really excited for her to see all the ins and outs of the industry as well. I also have a couple teammates that freelance for us and help with additional benefits for our clients.
SAB: How do you see the business expanding in the near future? Is there something that you wish to tackle that you haven’t gotten your arms around yet and possibly expanding into other sports?
AR: That’s a good question because I used to be about 45/45/10 in the NBA, NFL, MLB, respectively, at prior agencies. But when I started AR, I shifted into almost all NFL because those were my first clients and it grew through word of mouth and referrals.
I really like being strictly in the NFL, though. It gives me a little bit more stability with the schedule that they go through on a yearly basis. However, I would love to have more experience outside of the NFL again now that I’m on my own. I definitely wouldn’t mind getting back in that space, but if it continues to grow just within the NFL, I definitely wouldn’t be upset about that either! I’m just happy to still be working after 2020, sadly, hurt so many people’s small businesses.
As far as expanding, COVID-19 did affect our business on the growth side because I think a lot of athletes were worried about their paychecks potentially being cut, so we didn’t gain clients like we have in previous years. I’m hoping that this year brings a little bit more growth in the client sense, but at the same time, I would like to also keep growing our network and keep making sure that our clients have exactly what they need to feel taken care of and get back into the “normal” world again.
SAB: What advice do you have for women of all ages looking to join the growing number of women in sports not all of us are trying to break in right out of college? It can be complicated when you do not come through the standard pipeline of internships.
AR: I recently participated in a speaker series that Gabriella DiGiovanni has been doing on her Instagram. The other day, she had Caric Sports Agent, Molly McManimie, on the series. They were saying how just starting where you are currently at is so important, and it is actually really good advice. A lot of times, the first job that you get, sports-related or not, is something where you feel like you are so far from what you ultimately want to be doing.
Molly is an agent, like I said, but she started in client relations, which is similar to what I do and she was like, “I have a law degree and I really want to be utilizing it. Why am I doing client relations when I really want to be doing the contract negotiation?” Later on, she said that it really helped when she started getting her own clients to actually be doing those contract negotiations because she could say to them, “Look what I’ve been doing for three years and here’s how I can use that to benefit you, in addition to just contract negotiation.”
On my career path, I started in PR and Marketing, but I obviously shifted over to client relations. My last job before starting Athlete Relations was back on the branding and advertising side. And at first, I felt like I was getting away from what I knew I wanted to do, and what I’m really good at, but now I’m able to use that experience to utilize helping my clients negotiate marketing deals and other contracts. So, it’s all really about using what you have and the opportunities you’re given to propel yourself into your ultimate career goal.
Ally Redig graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Sports Management and Public Relations. Her clients include Shelby Harris (Denver Broncos), Laquon Treadwell (Atlanta Falcons), Michael Thomas and Tae Davis (Houston Texans), and John Franklin III (Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
To learn more about Ally Redig and Athlete Relations, visit: https://www.athleterelations.com/
Instagram: @athleterelations and @redigulous
Twitter: @athleteRltns and @redigulous