Last week the 2023 NWSL College draft took place, with the only 18 years old Alyssa Thompson being picked first overall by Angel City FC. She became the first player ever picked directly out of high school. But she wasn’t the first to be picked before playing a game in college. Trinity Rodman, the daughter of former NBA-star Dennis Rodman, became the youngest player drafted in NWSL history at age 18 as well when Washington Spirit selected her as their first pick, and second overall, at the 2021 NWSL College draft. Due to the cancellation of her freshman year because of COVID-19, she had never played a match in college either.
Two years later Trinity Rodman already established her name firmly, racking up several individual awards, such as the US Soccer Young Female of the Year after her first season as pro. Besides performing well on club level, which resulted in a contract extension making her the best-paid player of the NWSL – above the likes of Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan – and a nomination for the Ballon d’Or in November 2022, she also earned 10 caps for the national team.
Rodman is clearly an outstanding player on the pitch but how does she perform off the pitch? As a Gen Z-born player she basically grew up with social media and this is clearly visible when checking her social accounts. She is very active on both Instagram as TikTok, where as we speak she sums up 154K and 27K followers respectively. On Twitter she is less active, but still surpasses 12K followers. Nice numbers for a female football player who is still only 20 years old.
Analyzing her social content, you can recognize her personality and her lifestyle. People can identify themselves with her, especially the younger generation. She shows she is much more than a football player and that is why she is also very interesting for non-sports businesses. Her audience is not necessarily following her because of her outstanding skills on the pitch – something she even barely shows on her social media.
Her passion for art and fashion is visible on her Instagram and TikTok but also by her choosing of business partnerships. With her videos she tells her story in her own creative way, which Google Pixel recognized and therefore wanted to start a partnership with her. Also her successful partnership with Adidas is a result of her personality, even though as a sportswear brand Adidas always looks to sponsor talented athletes. But it is not a coincidence that they choose Rodman to promote the collaboration with Gucci.
She is well-aware of the influence she can have on the younger generation and is taking action to be a role model, further than on the pitch. Her children’s book “Wake Up and Kick It” is one of the ways she tries to inspire the next generation. But also by sharing what sports taught her during her life so far, she tries to motivate them and set a great example.
As the daughter of the extraordinary athlete Dennis Rodman was, Trinity has had both an advantage and disadvantage when building her personal brand. Her last name already starts to ring a bell for many sports fans, although her father’s success and behavior might have been an extra challenge for her to overcome. Step by step she is paving her own way and stepping out of his shadow, with great success on and off the pitch.
She has the potential to become one of football’s biggest icons for the next ten years. On the pitch she is showing it with her football skills, off the pitch with her authentic self and cheerful personality. She might not be that known yet by the bigger audience in Europe but I’ll predict that this will change within a year!