When athletes spread out for the summer, they go in a variety of directions. Some play their sport in a new setting, while others pursue other opportunities. The Daily Princetonian spoke to two athletes about their summer internships.
From brand partner to brand sponsor: a summer of new perspectives for Alexis Hiltunen
Senior women’s soccer forward Alexis Hiltunen ’24 spent her summer interning for sports media titan Overtime, where she joined her love for sports and aptitude for brand work as a sales and marketing assistant.
As an athlete herself, Hiltunen reveled in the opportunity to work behind the scenes at a staple of modern sports culture. “It was really interesting to see the other side of things … the platforms they’ve built, especially around basketball, are incredible,” she told the Daily Princetonian.
Since its founding in 2016 by Princeton alum Dan Porter ’88, Overtime has amassed 8.5 million followers on Instagram and over three million subscribers on YouTube. They also launched the nation’s first professional basketball league for high schoolers and international players ages 16–19, as well as a low-contact football league and the recently launched Overtime Boxing (OTX).
Much of Hiltunen’s work over the summer was dedicated to optimizing branding and marketing for OTX, which held its first event in August.
“I was in a lot of those calls discussing branding: for the ring, or the locker rooms, or the walkout. All those different aspects that go into branding,” she told the ‘Prince.’ She also conducted competitive analyses for Overtime’s brand team and spearheaded various website redesign projects.
Hiltunen is one of Princeton’s most active athletes in the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) space. For her, working with Overtime, a brand that sponsors hundreds of athletes worldwide, was quite the change in perspective: “I work with a lot of NIL deals so I see that perspective. But, seeing how brands look at athletes was really cool,” she told the ‘Prince.’
Hiltunen reflected that “learning about what brands are looking for, and how to display that” with Overtime will help her grow her own brand as a social media influencer and content creator moving forward.
In addition to her work for Overtime, Hiltunen continued her work with NIL partners over the summer. All of this was juggled amid the preparation for her senior season with women’s soccer — one which is loaded with expectations.
While she hopes to pursue a career in marketing after graduation in the spring, for now, her focus is on one thing: a strong finish to her soccer career with an Ivy League championship.
Running the show: Xaivian Lee shines at the 2023 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup
Men’s basketball sophomore guard Xaivian Lee spent his summer taking his game to the next level and competing on the international stage. After a productive first year in which Lee contributed greatly to an Ivy League championship and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2023 NCAA tournament, the Torontonian was named to Team Canada’s U19 roster set to compete at the 2023 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup in Hungary.
“I definitely felt a huge sense of pride to be representing an entire nation,” Lee said about the opportunity. “It was always a goal of mine since I was a young kid, so to accomplish it and succeed at that level brought me a lot of confidence,” he added.
Lee, who had never represented Canada in competition before, quickly solidified himself as one of the team’s leaders and most productive players. Despite finishing with just three points in Canada’s opening matchup with eventual champions Spain, Lee would go on to lead in both scoring and assists for the tournament for the Canadian team, posting averages of 14.1 points per game and 3.1 assists per game, as well as a field goal percentage of 47.8 percent.
A year playing with and against the nation’s best at the collegiate level certainly contributed to Lee’s international success. “Most of my peers (other U19 competitors) are just going into their first year of college now, so to have that sort of experience helped in a bunch of ways,” Lee said about his time with Princeton. “Playing in March Madness (2023 NCAA Tournament) and under huge spotlights all year definitely made the jump to FIBA seem manageable,” he added. Lee helped lead Canada to a seventh-place finish out of 16 teams.
With the losses of starters Ryan Langborg ’23, Tosan Evbuomwan ’23, and Keeshawn Kellman ’23 from last year’s Princeton men’s basketball roster, Lee should see an enhanced role during the upcoming season. “All summer I’ve been in the weight room, so just trying to put on a bit more mass I think will help me,” said Lee about what new value he hopes to add to the team this year. “I also tried adding a bit more bounce to my game, so hopefully that will translate,” he said.
Lee also got some experience playing point guard for Team Canada, serving as their primary ball-handler and floor general. Given that Langborg and Evbuomwan largely filled those roles for Princeton last season, expect to see Lee with the ball in his hands often for Princeton this year.
The Tigers will kick off their 2023–2024 campaign on Nov. 6 in Trenton’s Cure Insurance Arena against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Diego Uribe is an associate Sports editor at the ‘Prince.’
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