The Lady Dukes softball travel organization, based in Durham, North Carolina, and with teams in 11 states across the country, announced on Friday that it had finalized a revolutionary partnership with Win Reality, a technology company headquartered in Austin, Texas, that sells a virtual reality training tool for baseball and softball players.
In the deal, Win Reality will provide a three-year sponsorship, reported to be in the low-to-mid six figure range, that will provide qualified college athletes with NIL deals upwards of $25,000 annually for each player.
Win Reality, according to Lamar and his perspective of the corporate relationship, is looking for athletes to represent their brand when they get to college and, if the player accepts it and is a good fit, on the average can make $15K-$25K annually as part of the new NIL arrangement that provides sponsorships to athletes.
“We’re excited to utilize this technology to further advance the game of softball,” James Lamar, the President of the Lady Dukes program, told Extra Inning Softball yesterday.
“The one thing we have to do is to move the game forward by using the power we have in the marketplace,” Lamar continued, “in travel ball, especially, to get these sponsors who want to do business with and for the female athletes.”
A mutual connection that helped bring the two parties together is a tie-in to the Lone Star State.
“Win Reality was serious about this and they’re happy and we love it,” the Lady Dukes head man explains. “They’re based in Texas where we have a strong presence and, with athletes all over the country, we can see their data and watch players swinging in Texas, California or anywhere across the country or the world. It’s such great technology—it’s like you’re really there. It’s inexpensive, but the benefits are great.”
Win Reality markets a virtual reality technology that, according to the company’s website is “used by thousands of youth players and hundreds of professional and collegiate baseball athletes, including a majority of Major League Baseball franchises and more than 100 NCAA baseball and softball teams.”
The company provides a bat attachment for baseball or softball use which is affixed to an athlete’s bat to be used in the batting practice mode.
This YouTube video shows how the product is used and what it looks like facing, in this case, a college softball pitcher:
Lamar says his organization has been in talks with potential corporate sponsors for several months now and the interest in participation has varied, but is increasing more and more each month.
“We’ve been talking to a lot of different entities and companies,” Coach Lamar explains, “who are looking to get out in front of the NIL situation and help athletes. Some are slow in moving, but others have been extremely interested and want to get out in front to help athletes.”
Lamar says Win Reality execs quickly caught his vision of helping college softball players and that made closing the deal that much easier.
“We preach a lot that you have to win when you step on the field, but you have to win off the field as well. It’s about time for people to know who these girls are and the abilities they have away from the game too.”
“In Win Reality, we found a partner that believes in the growth of softball and the softball athlete. They shared our vision with what we want to do. Win Reality reps came out to see us in action and how we operate, and they fell in step with our vision for getting the college athletes more sponsorship opportunities.”
Each year in the three-year deal, Win Reality will provide technology for kids to train, including those who can’t afford the cost of working out, which currently is available via a monthly membership fee of $19.
Lamar credits two of his key leaders in the Lady Dukes with getting the deal finalized, notably Rob Rogers, the travel ball organization’s VP of Corporate Relations and Player Development who is based in Texas.
“Rob was very instrumental in the deal,” explains Lamar, “and helped with the sponsorship discussion for four to six months. He’s aggressive and has that bulldog mentality that helped with advancing the negotiations.”
Additionally, Kristin Cuyos, the former Texas A&M softball great, will spearhead the technology growth in Texas and across the country with the partnership.
Here’s a short clip showing the Lady Dukes in action and the vibrancy of the athletes that attracted Win Reality to the partnership:
“This education including using Win Reality technology,” Lamar stresses, “will begin as young as the 10’s and 12’ in club ball so they can learn early how to recognize and learn from their mistakes and progress to best they can be.”
Lamar feels this new NIL-type deal will be the beginning of a fast-growing sponsorship of softball collegiate athletes everywhere.
“It’s about time,” Lamar concludes, “that someone looked at these girls in the same light as the boys for their athletic sacrifices and achievements. Finally, there’s someone who says, ‘We see you and appreciate you (the female athlete).’”
“Now the question is, in terms of sponsoring these great female athletes is, ‘Who wants to be next?’”
— Brentt Eads, Extra Inning Softball