For every wide-spread success story in youth sports, there are millions more we never hear about. Trophecase is looking to empower individual athletes to elevate their own brands.
Imagine carrying your resume with you, wherever you go. Not just your resume — samples of your work, as well. References. Links to your private life. Basically, everything that lives on your phone, but ready to show to anyone at a moment’s notice.
If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. But for young athletes, being able to share exactly who you are, on the field and off, could be the difference between walking on and earning a scholarship or inking an NIL deal with a local business instead of being passed over.
Trophecase is a digital platform that exists to be exactly that, for everyone who plays any sport. The company’s hashtag is #EVERYATHLETE, and they mean what they say.
Founder and CEO Hunter Moffatt doesn’t want to limit his platform to the All-Americans and five-star recruits bound to earn millions down the road. He himself was a college baseball player at Albany and later the University of Bridgeport, before injuries disrupted his career. But he knows both the frustration and importance in finding exposure.
Trophecase is a chance for everyone from the leading scorer to the last player on the bench, in every sport, male and female, to compile their stats, highlights, social links, contact info, and bios in one place.
“We think it’s pretty simple,” Moffatt said. “We wanna make this a platform that is available to every athlete. So any age level or sports, men and women, to just give them the opportunity and the tools to continue their career, whatever path that may be.”
Born in the Feed
The idea came to Moffatt while he was doing something we all do for more hours per day than we care to admit: He was on his phone, scrolling through his various social media feeds.
Facebook. Twitter. TikTok.
“People were taking pictures of anything, you know, their dogs, their kids, their food, and millions of people were liking it and sharing it,” he recalls.
And then he hit LinkedIn — the last resort for many when scrolling to pass the time. That’s when it hit him: Why was there nothing like this, made specifically for athletes? Not just to share a professional resume and to network, but to really capture their entire personality?
“I kind of thought of the initial vision of Trophecase as that Instagram and LinkedIn combo,” he says. “For an athlete that can capture their career on the long-term perspective and really be able to provide value with their media, their stats, their recruiting.”
There was a need for it, too. More than just to give young athletes their own digital space to collect highlights and list their stats. Moffatt knows from experience that finding those things for high school players can sometimes be impossible. Unlike in college or the pros, there are no sports information directors or team PR officials to keep records, upload stats to the team website every day, and get highlight reels out on social.
The problem is especially frustrating for someone like Keith Mency, Trophecase’s sports director. His son is a high school athlete, and while a select few can rise to the top and gain national attention, 99.99% struggle to earn recognition.
“There’s so many kids out there that are so talented, but they really don’t have a set of direction when it comes to having someone represent them in the right way, as far as putting them out there, their stance, their content,” Mency says. “And I just felt Trophecase was an opportunity not only to give back, but to be a part of something that’s really gonna change the dynamics of how recruiting is going to be moving forward.”
A Fragmented Industry
High school sports don’t operate under one umbrella, similar to how the NCAA or NAIA manage thousands of colleges and universities. High schools are divided not only by state, but by school size, public/private status, and more. So if you are a college coach at a small school or of a non-revenue sport — or if you’re a brand looking to connect with local high school talent — there are far too many avenues to start from. Players are going to be overlooked.
“It’s a highly fragmented and short-term industry,” Moffat says. “Different teams, different levels, different sports, different apps, different websites. And then you add in the parents to that aspect, if they have more than one child, then you just keep multiplying those things.”
Trophecase puts closing that gap in the hands of the athletes on its platform. Think how football players use hudl, but expanded for every sport, every age, and with even more information.
It’s not just for high schoolers, either. Syracuse guard Joe Girard is one of the platform’s higher-profile athletes. The rising senior averaged 13.8 points per game for the Orange last year, shooting 40% from three. Girard has to take into account his NIL value and how to put together a resume to appeal to pro teams — either in the US or overseas in a couple years.
“The day that someone is on Trophecase and that helps them get to the next level,” Moffatt says, “those are the stories we’re excited to hear about.”
As with any digital platform designed for young athletes, there is, of course, a blockchain component. Once a player builds out his or her Trophecase card, they can mint their own custom NFT for free, which they can hold onto or take to a marketplace like Opensea.
While athletes are not required to use the NFT component, Moffatt says he has seen significant interest from those on the platform already. And it makes sense, as minting an NFT of your stats and likeness is an easy way to monetize your NIL rights on your own. No brand deal is necessary.
“A lot of what we hear in the industry is kind of the [athletes’] lack of ownership in their brand,” Moffatt says. “So that’s what NFTs bring. It brings digital ownership to their brand; it brings validation and a long-term perspective.”
That will benefit the athletes long-term, as well. When they first sell their NFTs, which exist on the Ethereum blockchain, they will receive 95% of the sale. As the NFTs are bought or sold on Opensea, the player will receive a 5% royalty on every additional sale, per the terms built directly into the smart contract. That means if an athlete makes it big and their high school or college NFTs become more valuable over time, they can continue to reap the rewards significantly, long after they sell the original token.
It also means that athletes can benefit from their NIL rights without having to rely on an outside partner deeming it worth spending money on their services. As Moffatt said in a press release earlier this year:
“Our focus is providing value to the individual athlete, which is the complete opposite approach of today’s sports industry, which showcases and provides resources for the top 1% of athletes.”
Skin in the Game
Moffatt and Mency are involved in Trophecase because they found a direct need in their lives. Moffatt played baseball in college and struggled to find exposure. Mency has high school-aged son who played basketball. Mency was also able to bring a friend of his on board as an advisor — a guy whose son left high school long ago, played at Duke, and is now on the Brooklyn Nets.
Drederick Irving, father of Kyrie Irving, has long been a presence in his son’s public life, and has seen first-hand how, when given the right tools, a player can thrive from a prospect to a multi-millionaire.
Not that everybody on Trophecase — or anybody, for that matter — is going to be the next Kyrie. But Dred does want to give everyone a shot. A chance to separate themselves from the rest of the noise.
Recalling a recent conversation he had with Dred, Mency said: “He expressed to me that he never had opportunity like this, being able to shop your talent, to have all of your accolades, pretty much on one platform and not spread out.”
Dred isn’t the only big name on board. Trophecase’s advisory team also includes Ron Jaworski, the former quarterback and ESPN personality, as well as former NFL lineman Jason Fox.
Not only do they lend name recognition, but also a background in following the path that so many millions of young athletes dream of.
“Many aspire,” Moffatt said. “The 60 million amateur athletes aspire to go from youth to high school, to college, to the pros, to hopefully the Hall of Fame. For every athlete, [we’re] giving them that base athletic profile that highlights their accolades.”