MISSOULA — Bayliss Flynn celebrated her birthday on Tuesday, signed a name, image and likeness contract on Wednesday and was on the road for a pre-pro league soccer game on Thursday.
Things are certainly busy for Flynn, a Montana Grizzlies football commitment in the recruiting class of 2023. But the all-state guard wouldn’t want it any other way, especially when she’s doing what she loves at a high level while charting its own path, which turns out to be historic.
Flynn became the youngest player on the Minnesota Aurora FC roster earlier this year. She is now the first high school athlete in Minnesota State to sign an NIL contract, and she has just days to grow into a 17-year-old who is fearless, enterprising and showing others she can dream. big.
“Both my parents taught me not to be afraid to not follow the pack and put myself forward, it’s okay to try,” she said. “Being an only child as well, I haven’t had anyone to solely guide me, so I know I have to put myself forward.
“I’ve seen my mom, Mary (Lahammer), always put herself forward and work the hardest because she’s a TV reporter. I’m very inspired by her and her work ethic and how dedicated she is to her job.
Flynn signed his NIL agreement eight days after the Minnesota State High School League began allowing athletes to sign such agreements. Compensation cannot be based on athletic performance or be used as an inducement to recruit, among other rules, to preserve the athlete’s amateur status.
Nine state associations have authorized NIL agreements as of June 1, according to Business of College Sports, although the Montana High School Association does not authorize such agreements, pursuant to Article II, Sections 15 and 16 of its bylaws. The NCAA began allowing NIL agreements beginning July 1, 2021.
“All social media just keeps working and flooding my phone,” she said. “It’s just still surreal. I didn’t have much time to stop and think about it. But it was an incredible experience. Everything happened so fast. »
Flynn’s deal is with credit union TruStone Financial, which is one of Minnesota Aurora FC’s founding sponsors. She met them at the team uniform unveiling earlier this year at the Mall of America. The terms of her deal were not disclosed, but she will promote Aurora-branded credit and debit cards.
This opportunity allows Flynn to serve as a voice for financial literacy and education among age-matched people in her community, where she is already trying to make an impact as a youth goalie coach. Because she is a minor, her mother also had to sign the agreement.
“They seemed like a good fit,” she said. “This is a Minnesota and Wisconsin company, and I loved that connection to my hometown. They have strong values because they also belong to the community, like Aurora. The CEO (Dale Turner) values and respects women in sport and women in positions of power, and I think he really wants to uplift women.
Flynn’s chance to play for Aurora FC came when she was scouted competing for the Minnesota Thunder Academy in the National Elite Club League, which is the top tier of women’s soccer for Americans. young people in the country. Aurora FC went 4-0-1 in Friday night’s game, leading the Heartland Division of the USL W League, which is one tier below the National Women’s Soccer League.
Flynn was 16 when she joined the team, which plays in a league that operates under amateur status to preserve high school and college eligibility for players. She hasn’t played a game yet, but has learned lessons from veterans as old as 25, like how to adapt when she heads off to college.
“I could already see the huge community support around the team with donations and money from all over the country,” she said. “It’s a community team led by women, which is very important to me. There are so many season ticket holders that we have 5,000 fans almost every game, which is remarkable. I really wanted to be a representative of my state and my community.
Montana coach Chris Citowicki coached Flynn’s club ECNL program years ago, though she doesn’t recall them ever crossing paths there. He has now led the Griz to five Big Sky Conference regular-season or tournament titles and three NCAA Tournament berths in four seasons.
Flynn will join UM in 2023 after completing his senior year at Edina High School, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation in the fall. She previously moved club teams as well as high schools while seeking the best fit athletically, academically and in terms of inclusivity. She thinks she found this at UM.
“I learned how amazing the coaching staff was, how they genuinely care about you as a person and how they want to see you grow not just as a football player but as a human being, and they want you to succeed in the future,” she said, later adding, “The program is definitely on the rise. They go to the NCAA Tournament regularly. It’s just a standout factor of the team. .