Skip to main content
Bartram Trail (Fla.) girls' lacrosse player Ryan Frechette

How a Florida Lacrosse Player Became the Face of an NIL Movement

April 5, 2024
Justin Boggs
Chris Tilley

Name, image and likeness deals have become commonplace at the college level in recent years since the NCAA began allowing athletes to sign sponsorship deals in 2021.

While numerous states have since extended the ability for high school athletes to profit off their name, Florida is not among them. Bartram Trail’s lacrosse star Ryann Frechette hoped Florida would join the growing number of states allowing NIL deals.

According to the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations, 30 states had adopted NIL for high school athletes by late 2023. (Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington permit it.)

Several other states, like Michigan and Delaware, are weighing adding NIL.

Last year, Frechette petitioned the Florida High School Athletic Association to allow her to sign with STX. The contract would not have been as lucrative as many of the NIL deals college athletes enjoy, but the manufacturer would have provided her money for equipment.

“They had reached out to other girls my age in other states who were able to receive the deal and go through with it and so I decided to appeal it to the FHSAA board,” she said. “I got to call the board and explain my reasoning and they had denied it and said I could appeal it to the executive board, which I ended up doing and I also got denied there. But I think it did bring a light.”

Frechette found herself the unlikely face of a movement.

“It was definitely intimidating,” she said. “But I did feel very passionate about women in lacrosse and sports, especially in the state of Florida. For lacrosse, it is not a hotbed and I've always looked to grow the sport in the state.”

That’s one of the reasons why Frechette committed to Florida. “I wanted to explain my reasoning to them,” she said.

Getting her appeal heard by the FHSAA wasn’t just important for Frechette, who won the state’s Miss Lacrosse award last year. The implications of the FHSAA’s decision not to allow her to benefit from a sponsorship deal had an impact on thousands of athletes from other sports.

“I had a lot of support from everyone around me — from my coaches, from my teammates, from other girls,” she said. “That was just really great to have because it motivated me even more to go through with an appeal.”

Although Frechette’s initial efforts failed, her case expanded the conversation of allowing high school athletes to sign endorsements using their name, image and likeness.

“It was a discussion that needed to be had, something that the board needed to consider,” she said. “I gave them a different perspective on the way they looked at it, which hopefully opened doors for its potential.“

One year after having her appeal denied by FHSAA officials, the association now is considering a proposal that would allow high school athletes to sign NIL contracts. At February’s meeting of the FHSAA Board of Directors, a draft proposal made it to the floor. The language in the proposal indicates that NIL deals cannot be used to recruit players to another school. That rule stands in some contrast from how NIL has been put into practice in the NCAA, as active collegiate athletes are frequently being lured to other universities because of NIL opportunities.

The FHSAA has not set a timeline for when it could vote on the proposal and did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

With Frechette headed to Florida this fall, she likely won’t be able to benefit from such a rule change. She hopes, however, that other high school athletes do. Perhaps she’ll receive similar NIL opportunities in college.

“I would hope, so that's definitely the goal of mine,” she said. “And being denied by the board has also made me a lot more excited for college for those reasons.”

Another reason that NIL opportunities excite Frechette is that they’re not just benefiting male athletes. She noted that many female athletes like herself could benefit from such agreements.

Frechette has certainly earned the opportunity to profit off her name. She has scored 408 goals in 79 career high school games.