EDINA, Minn. (BVM) – Bayliss Flynn did not waste time after the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) announced it would allow athletes to pursue name, image and likeness (NIL) deals. The 17-year-old goalkeeper signed a contract with TruStone Financial in early June following her birthday.
“It’s truly been amazing and it’s all happened so fast like the decision came about maybe three weeks ago,” Flynn said. “Then a couple days later, TruStone Financial reached out to me and my family and then from there, we’ve handled everything, signed a contract a week later and now it’s here.”
I’m honored to announce the 1st Name Image Likeness (NIL) endorsement deal for a high school athlete in Minnesota working with @trustonefcu a founding sponsor of @mnaurorafc. Very grateful for the @MSHSL decision allowing #NIL pic.twitter.com/tI3MFq2kTJ
— Bayliss Flynn (@BaylissFlynn) June 15, 2022
With the deal in place, Flynn became the first Minnesota high school athlete to sign an NIL deal and she hopes that her example will help others who follow in her footsteps. A part of the deal focuses on teaching high school athletes financial literacy so that they have the information they need if and when they sign their own NIL deals.
“It’s definitely very important to me especially because high school classes don’t really teach that so I think it’s a topic that needs to be more widely known and more widely covered,” Flynn said.
Along with the financial skills needed to optimize the new NIL opportunities in Minnesota, Flynn suggests approaching any contract as the reward for putting in hours of training. High school student athletes can have little time outside of school and athletics to work a normal job. NIL is a chance for those student athletes to be compensated for the effort they put into their craft.
“This is what all your hard work has led up to,” Flynn said. “I know training hours and hours a day doesn’t always leave room for a job so this is like your job and you’re finally being rewarded for those hours that you’ve put in.”
The opportunity to be this voice for high school NIL opportunities arose in part because of Flynn’s spot on Aurora FC. The USL W League team is sponsored by TruStone and Flynn originally made headlines when she joined Aurora back in the spring.
Aurora scouted her last winter while Flynn was playing with her club team, Minnesota Thunder Academy (MTA), when Aurora FC began to scout her.
“I didn’t know that it would be possible for me to go play with them,” Flynn said.
At the time, Flynn was 16 years old but Aurora wanted her and after two meetings with the team, Flynn was added to the roster. The experience has been great, according to Flynn. The training and atmosphere is preparing her for her collegiate career at the University of Montana, while some of her teammates have helped guide her through the business side of sports.
“Having Sarah Fuller as a teammate that I can look up to has definitely helped,” Flynn said. “She’s a part of NOCAP Sports which helps athletes handle NIL deals and get them promotions so if I ever have a question I can go to her.”
Fuller is the starting goalkeeper for Aurora FC. The former Vanderbilt goalie made history when she became the first female to play in a Power 5 football game and the first female to ever play in an SEC football game. Fuller’s experience with making history has helped Flynn navigate everything that has happened since signing the NIL deal with TruStone.
“The main thing that she said to me is just ignore the negativity,” Flynn said. “I mean, I know she struggled with it that first week when everything came out and she said just don’t let it get to you.”
There are sure to be naysayers but Flynn has earned everything that has been given to her. The goalkeeper from Edina, Minnesota has been working on soccer since she was a little kid.
“I’ve just always played soccer for as long as I can remember,” Flynn said.
Her father played when he was growing up and would even spend time in England playing soccer there when Flynn’s grandmother would go back home to the UK to visit family. Then around the time she was 8, Flynn joined MTA and found her home in the goal.
“Well my mom was very against me playing goalie,” Flynn said. “Just because it’s hard as a goalie parent with all that pressure but whenever I would go in just for that half and we would be on that rotational schedule, I loved it.”
The soft-spoken, quiet Flynn found her voice in goal. She became a coach on the field, directing the defense from the box. Flynn was born to be a goalie.
“I fell in love with it,” Flynn said. “I couldn’t stop playing it. I didn’t want to be on the field anymore.”
Through Minnesota Thunder Academy, Flynn was able to play in the ECNL, the premier soccer league for club soccer in the USA. She watched older players from the club go DI and when it was her time, Flynn knew she had a chance to play collegiate soccer.
“Once you get on that ECNL path, as long as you stick to it, you’re basically going to go DI,” Flynn said.
The Montana Grizzlies’ head coach Chris Citowicki had coached at Minnesota Thunder Academy. When he went out to Missoula, he made sure to keep tabs on Flynn. Once the Grizzlies could officially recruit her, it did not take long for Flynn to feel at home in Montana.
She verbally committed in January and will join the Grizzlies in 2023 following her senior year at Edina High School.
“It’s definitely the perfect fit,” Flynn said.
In the meantime, Flynn will train with Aurora FC, try to help lead Edina back to the state tournament after losing to the eventual state champions, Stillwater, in the state semifinals last season and try to be a role model in Minnesota.
“I train a lot of younger goalies here and I hope I can be a role model for them,” Flynn said.