UConn Basketball knows a little something about winning rings.
When it came time for a pair of Huskies basketball fans to get their own rings on their wedding day, men’s basketball player Joey Calcaterra sent a video shout out to the couple wishing them well on their time to get rings.
“I thought that was a fun idea that they had, and I was just happy to be able to help,” Calcaterra said.
Connecting with fans
Calcaterra, a graduate transfer from San Diego, received the NIL deal through Opendorse. Completing deals on Opendorse like video shout outs, happy birthday messages and meet and greets have been one way that he’s been able to connect with his new fan base.
“Opendorse has been a great tool for me,” he said. “Being at UConn for just one year, it’s allowed me to gain deeper relationships with our fan base and learn about what kind of people support UConn men’s basketball. It’s shown me how wide the UConn fan base is and the different type of people that root for the Huskies.”
Calcaterra played at San Diego in the West Coast Conference for four years. As a transfer student, it was important for him to make connections at his new home to feel like a part of the community – NIL deals made that easier.
“It’s a great way to be able to connect with the fan base and for them to be able to reach out to their favorite players and get to know them on a deeper level,” he said.
Putting himself out there
Calcaterra has experienced college basketball with and without NIL. He’s used the last year to understand how NIL works and what makes an athlete good at it.
“The most important thing is having a personality,” Calcaterra said. “When you’re out in public and around the fans and around school, it’s important to be the guy that people want to be around, be nice to everyone and be open to having conversations with anyone.”
When Calcaterra first arrived in Storrs, Connecticut, and was working at a Boys and Girls Club camp with his fellow Huskies, he made a point to use NIL for good and recognized the impact he can have on the community.
“I think it’s important – especially if you’re more on the quiet side – to give yourself the ability to come out of your shell and make sure you’re making these connections with people,” Calcaterra said. “It really goes a long way.”
An environment of support
Calcaterra is thankful that he plays for a university that emphasizes the importance of NIL opportunities for its student-athletes.
“They (UConn Athletics) took it upon themselves to place a big importance on NIL and the brand that we’re sharing,” Calcaterra said. “UConn puts in a lot of effort for that, and I thought it was really cool that they took a lot of time to make sure that we were good and that NIL opportunities could be found here.”
Since joining the Huskies, this is the first year that Calcaterra has used Opendorse to find NIL opportunities – and he’s glad he did.
“It’s been a huge gamechanger in the sense that fans can reach out to their favorite players in the instant of a message,” Calcaterra said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to connect with teams and players all around the country, and Opendorse makes it really easy for myself and my teammates to interact with these people.”
Calcaterra and the Huskies are looking to make a run in the Big East and the NCAA tournament. That national exposure and increased marketability could mean more NIL opportunities – a welcome effect for student-athletes.
“I’ve accepted every NIL opportunity that I’ve had so far. I’m really big into the NIL space; I like making people feel good. Whether it’s saying hello, wishing someone a happy birthday, I’m all for it,” Calcaterra said. “Hopefully, we continue our run; we’ve been gaining a little momentum here finishing off the regular season, so I’m hoping when we keep winning some more NIL opportunities are going to come for me.”