Sports Agents Explained!
with Maddy P. & Georgia S.
31 Aug, 2022 · Track and Field
Canadian Olympian turned sports agent, Georgia Simmerling, and Maddy Price, Tokyo Olympian in the 400m, give us tips on what to look for in an agent, what to avoid, and how to advocate for ourselves when beginning to work with an agency.
Guests: Maddy Price & Georgia Simmerling
[00:00:00]Stef: Today we have a special episode with not one, but two guests! We are so excited to welcome Maddy Price and Georgia Simmerling, both incredible Canadian women athletes on the Voice in Sport podcast. Maddy has represented team Canada at World Championships, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 4x400m relay. She is also an incredible Vis League mentor and we are so grateful to have her on our platform. Georgia is the first Canadian to compete in three different sports at three different Olympic games: cycling, alpine skiing, and skicross. She has now retired from professional sports and founded her own sports agency, AG Sport, where she focuses on helping promote women athletes and growing their brand!
On today’s episode, Maddy and Georgia will walk us through their journeys in sport, their experience at the Olympics but, most importantly, the role of an agent, the importance of finding the right one, and how to go about it!
With the new NIL legislation, it is so important to be aware of what a good agent can do for you, but also what to look out for when signing with one, and we are so excited to welcome Maddy and Georgia on the podcast today to explain these topics to us!
[00:01:13]Georgia : Thank you for having us.
[00:01:15]Stef: It's pretty cool to have two Olympians on at the same time and to talk about a subject that I think we're all passionate about which is representation and pay for female athletes. So Maddie and Georgia, just to start, I want to talk about your experience of getting to where you are now. I mean, Maddie, in high school, you were a junior Olympian in both the 200 meter and the 400 meter races on several different occasions, setting a record for the Canadian junior national championship, meet your school and your league.
And on top of setting records on the track, you received honors for the all ACC academic honor, roll and Georgia. I mean, I don't even know where to begin, but you are a road and track cyclist who also competed in Alpine skiing and ski cross. I can't wait to understand how you got to all three of these incredible sports, but you are the first Canadian to compete in three different sports in three different Olympics.
So let's start with new Maddy. How did you start in sport? And what was your journey like at the very beginning?
[00:02:13]Maddy : I think I was always really inspired by my dad who was a professional race car driver and motocross racer as well. I remember watching him train for one of the most grueling, like 7,000 miles across the desert motorcycle race and just wanting to be at a high level in sports. and I think him and my mom threw my sister and I in all these different sports growing up.
So I played basketball all the way up until my junior year of high school until I specialized in to track my senior year. And I think playing all these different sports just really allowed me to have such a solid base for what it feels like to be on a team and just enjoying competing and just having fun with sports.
So that's really where it started. And I think track started to grow from there. The more and more I sprinted the more and more I got faster and started chipping away at those times. The more I just loved it.
[00:03:03]Stef: And Georgia. What about you? What was your journey early on in sports?
[00:03:07]Georgia : I come from a pretty big family, so I've, uh, three older brothers and they are all pretty, uh, you know, big boys that played sports and were adrenaline junkies themselves. So, I was merely keeping up with the family I was probably going down double black diamonds at the age of four or five and had to just keep up simply, that was kind of how things were. If I wanted to play hockey with my brothers, my mom would say, sure, go and play. And my brothers would say, okay, sure, you want to come play? And they would put me in the net and just start firing pucks at me. That was just like the way things were.I definitely, think had that toughness and adrenaline like seeped into me at a pretty young age.
[00:03:45]Stef: I love that, my daughter just came back from skiing last night and said she went down the double black diamond in the north face at Mount Alyeska. So I was pretty much pumped Maddie, let's kind of go back to you. I think that clearly you guys both have role models, coming from your families, which is a huge influence on how and why you got into sport.
When you think back about your career, how important was having role models, in life, in sport for you, and is that led you to why you became a Vis League?
[00:04:13]Maddy : Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head mentors and coaches for me have been the biggest driving factor. I remember when I made that transition out of basketball, my coach, my senior year of high school sat me down and said, okay, if we're going to really commit to this, let's do a goal ladder.
Let's look at what are these outcome goals? And then what are the process goals that you can do every day to get you to where you want to be? And to have someone sit you down and. Spend that time and invest in your journey was huge for me. And I think it has been into my professional career and into college to have those, whether it's a coach, whether it's a professor that I really connected with or a teacher, that I really connected with in high school, those people who support you and help drive those goals forward and help give you the resources.
And this has driven me to become a VIS mentor as well. I wish it was something I had a little bit more, especially on the women's side, a lot of my coaches and even teachers were men. And so I felt that I didn't necessarily have that kind of female role model as much as I would've liked.
So to be that now, and to learn so much from the girls that I'm talking to too has been so special. So I think it's definitely driven me to be a part of this. Awesome.
[00:05:21]Stef: What about you, Georgia? , you had some incredible role models too in your family. Like, is that been a big reason why you have now, not only gone to three Olympics, but started your own.
[00:05:32]Georgia : Yeah, I think I, had some incredible mentors, not just my brothers, but some incredible female role models as a youngster growing up. And I was lucky to have these women that I looked up to that then actually became my peers when I made the national team for ski racing. And I was lucky to, have these women in my life.
and I'm still really close friends with some of them today. And that definitely was one of the reasons, which led me to start my own business which was definitely a challenge to kind of just go out on my own and, leave the nest of the athlete life, where everything is taking care of for you, To, run my own business, which was a challenge, but I'm learning every single day. And it was something that really spoke to me as an athlete for someone that wasn't in, uh, pretty high profile sport. I worked very, hard at connecting with communities businesses from across the country and Canada, and worked hard at building my brand as an athlete.
And I was dealing with a lot of men from businesses from, all levels. And then on the agency side as well, it was dealing with a lot of men and I truly just thought that this needs to change. And, the world is shifting. we're starting to see that shift now and, ag wants to be a big part of that shift.
[00:06:46]Stef: I love it. Well, we're going to talk about all things journey related here and just how you've created that company, why you created it and then why Maddy decided to sign with you. And I'm sure it was more than just the fact
[00:06:56]Georgia : She's locked in now.
[00:06:58]Stef: Canadian Olympians. Yeah. She's not going anywhere. Well, I want to talk about that transition because a lot of girls in our community, like are trying to figure out, okay, first, what college do I go to? And now with name image and likeness rights, really opening up. There's just a lot of things to think about as an athlete, beyond just your performance and your mental game, when you're going in and choosing a school it's also about now you're building your brand and how do you talk to brands?
How do you consider deals coming your way? Do I get an agent or not get an agent? So, we're going to unpack today a little bit of Maddy's journey in first in college and then her transition into pro-life. And that really then introduces Georgia and all the amazing work she's doing with her new company.
So let's kind of go back a little bit in time, Maddie. And talk about your decision about choosing to go to Duke University share with our community, why you chose Duke and looking back on your experiences. what is something that you wish you would've known heading into your first year of college?
[00:08:01]Georgia : That you were going to gain 20 pounds, maybe.
[00:08:03]Maddy : Yes. 100% not even as a joke, I gained 15 to 20 pounds freshman year, it's true. And just to speak to that transition part, I think that was something to like, go to that question first and what I wish I knew was that how challenging of a transition it truly would be that everything changes.
Right. You're so used to like. Eating at home, whether it's cooking your own meals or your parents, or guardians cooking meals for you or whatever it is to then eating and navigating that whole system of Gatorade shakes and all the, things that are kind of thrown at you as an athlete and being expected to understand that and navigate that on your own.
So I think that was the challenge. One thing I wish I knew was just to reach out for help sooner. So there are so many resources available at these universities. And especially at duke, we had people there, but I was just trying to be that superhero that I feel like I still try to be sometimes. And I'm working on understanding that like Georgia said, we're always learning and we're always growing.
And when I was at duke, I wanted to just prove that I could make it on my own. And I wish I had asked for a little bit more help. but I chose to go to duke university because it sounds cliche, but it was such a good combination of athletics and. I really liked school. I worked really hard in school.
I really enjoyed school and duke was an amazing academic institution. So for me to have that opportunity to go there and really push myself in school was really attractive. And then them being in the ACC and being really competitive and then having a four by 400 team that was growing and making NCAAs every year and wanting to be a part of that and leave a legacy where now that four by four has made it to NCAAs has been in the finals almost every single year since I've been there.
And since the one year before I came. So it's cool to see that now that legacy continuing, and to be a part of a team and a program that has grown so much was really attractive and was an amazing part of being at duke
[00:09:53]Stef: Well, it's always really hard to find balance, especially when you're transitioning to that first year in college. So looking back now, what are some tips you can give our girls about managing their schedules and just finding balance as a, as an athlete in college.
[00:10:07]Maddy : One of the things. My freshman year that I realized was all the little things that made me happy in high school that I would do, whether it was like going on a little bike ride on the weekend, or like painting with my mom or just doing little things for fun. I stopped doing when I got to college, because that freshman year I was trying to run as fast as I could.
I was trying to navigate school, trying to make some friends and have somewhat of a social life and, and all the things that you have to do and produce. So I forgot to do the little things that made Maddy happy, little things that made me happy. And so once I started to try and do those again, my mental health and my performance in tracking in school improved it took some time to get to that point, but that's something I would say to young athletes in college is don't forget the little things that make you happy and that make you, you outside of sport.
That's helped me tremendously in my career.
[00:10:58]Stef: Such important advice. And I, want to go back to this 15, 20 pound comment because also, I think it is. It's important too, to recognize that our bodies are always changing, especially in that moment where you're transitioning into college, you're going to go into a new routine, a new, environment, new nutritional, resources, and it's a lot.
And I want to take a step back and really talk to the girls about, about this, because this is something that we all faced. I faced too. I'll never forget, the first time my mom came to visit me like six months into my first year of being a division one athlete, and I couldn't fit into any jeans anymore.
And I wanted to go out to a nice dinner with my mom and none of my clothes would fit. And I full on, started crying and bawling. And I think that that's where I realized,. I was living in my sweats as an athlete the whole first six months. But this is a real serious thing.
It can be detrimental. I think for us as female athletes, to realize that our bodies are going to be always changing and that there are so many different forms of bodies that can perform and do amazing things. So what advice would you have for girls when they're going in? You know, and they just kind of going in prepared to know, like, you know, you are going to have a different environment and different training and it is okay to gain weight and weight is not like the sole indicator of whether or not you are going to be a good performer or.
[00:12:20]Maddy : I think that's the key that idea of weight is not a good indicator at all. And I think for just as advice to younger girls, I found myself comparing a lot. So when I gained that 15, 20 pounds, I was looking at other girls in the team who I could see their six packs, right. When they were training with just like our sports bras and out on the track.
And I would be like, why am I not looking like that? And comparing myself to other girls? And at the end of the day, like you said, all of us are built differently. We have different body types. We have different ways that we train different ways that we get stronger and we get faster and understanding that our bodies are unique.
And we're powerful because of the uniqueness of that is key. And that took me a little while to understand it took me time to process and took me, with the resources at duke to get to that point. And now in my professional career, I'm a nutritionist through athletic Canada. That's helped me a lot.
Just understand my unique process and how eating for me is very personalized. So that's the one thing it's hard to not compare, but I think just going in really trusting that your body is your body and it'll be powerful and strong. No.
[00:13:30]Georgia : I remember going to the 2014 winter games in Sochi and the skiers were always hanging out in the Canadian athlete lounge with the bobsledders. Okay. I was like, going to get a snack. They're getting a snack, obviously. why would I not get a snack? And I think one message, like, I did not go to college and, I'm sure I went through a process of gaining weight, on the national team once we started to lift a lot of weights. And I know that that's a big I think a big transition, like you start to lift a lot of weights in college. But I think another reminder is to remind yourself of who you are and what, what got you to where you are now.
So you don't have to completely shift your schedule because of. You know, food and all these different things are available to you just to have like a friendly reminder that you've done enough to get to where you are. So to kind of remind yourself of what I was doing and to maybe try to go back to that.
So I didn't need to have a bunch of snacks while I was watching other athletes compete, just because the bobsledders were. I probably gained, you know, maybe like five or 10 at two weeks of the Olympics, but I just remember laughing about that after I'm like, no, I didn't do that before. So why am I doing it now?
[00:14:42]Stef: want the message to, just to be, if girls are not finding the resources, at their school, because not everybody has. One to five nutritionists and they might have one bad experience and then never go again. that's why our community is here so that girls can find the resources they need and find somebody you connect with because not always do you connect with the one or two people that are at your school and don't give up, Cause I think asking for help is such an important part of, of being a good athlete, right? it's always what makes amazing athletes, great business people too is because you're used to getting constructive feedback and used to ask you for help. Right? So all of these things, as you're building your career are going to help you so much to off. So let's talk about like that transition for you. Cause you, you know, Maddie, you went through college had a great experience and then you transitioned to becoming pro. And this really was, I think a big question for a lot of girls is do I continue running or doing my sport professionally afterwards?
And as we know, unfortunately, sometimes it's not great financially for, for women athletes to be doing that post-collegiate sport. So what was that like for you, Maddie? What was that transition like? Did you always have the intention of running professionally? Or is it something that you decided to do after you left?
[00:15:56]Maddy : I think it was something I was deciding and into my senior year. I think growing up, I'd always wanted to go to the Olympics and I missed the 2016 Olympic team by a 10th of a second when I was a sophomore at duke. And so that fueled me to want to continue. And I feel like I still had so much more left in the tank.
That part of me thought, okay, maybe I should just retire, get a real job. This was a fun thing. Maybe I won't, continue. But I think again, having the mentors and having people around me who were like, no, I think you can do this. Let's push and let's do it. And then Canada is as supported.
A lot of his athletes pretty well with the carding system. I think it's still could be better. And I think there's still a lot of room for investment in sponsorship dollars that I know we will talk about later with Georgia, but yeah, I think for me coming out of college, I also did a one-year grad program.
So I was in school in that first year while running pro, which as challenging as it was, it maintained that same structure that I was used to of school and track. So it made that balance in that transition a little bit easier for me. But once I came out of that, it really was okay. Taking ownership of your training, taking ownership of your finances and of your sponsorship and of everything in your career.
Whereas when you're going in a school system, you have a lot of that taken care of you have traveled to meets , you have the meets that you're going to, like all these things are taken care of. So that transition was really about taking ownership and being creative and finding resources and support. To continue on this professional.
[00:17:28]Stef: Amazing. Okay. Now introducing Georgia, because this is really where she comes in. And I think one of the biggest and least talked about parts of professional.
sports is the process of finding an agent to represent you. Especially with the new NFL laws that are out there that now allow student athletes to start partnering with brands.
It's so important to understand what an agent does and how they can help you. But also just how do you pick one? So Georgia, you have been on both sides of the spectrum. Now you're an athlete and now you're also an agent. You launched ag sports. An agency that's made up of all women, which we love to hear that voice in sport. So talk to me about what inspired you to launch your company?
[00:18:10]Georgia : as I mentioned earlier, I think as I was building my brand as an athlete, one thing really stuck out with me was that I was dealing with a lot of men and I really had a passion. for doing that work as an athlete on the side of performing and training and competing and it was a bit of a competition for me, honestly, it fueled me.
I really enjoyed doing that work when I wasn't in the gym or wasn't away competing. I would be on my, computer and coffee shops. And, for many years I did a lot of that work, I think towards the last couple of years of my career, I felt like I had kind of found my army of supporters if you will, and didn't do as much hustling.
but trusty of doing it all now, I really, saw a massive gap, like a really, really big gap in terms of, dealing with women from brands that I was talking to corporations and also representation of athletes. And I just remember being in the car with my partner Stephanie, and telling her I think I can do this, I can do this.
I'm going to do this. And sure enough, I started talking to a couple athletes and yeah, a lot of people have been impressed with how many athletes have signed so far, but honestly, that's been like the hands down, the easiest part of my business. I think I can hopefully speak on behalf of the athletes that I represent.
And I think one of the reasons they've chosen to work with me is because I was in their shoes yesterday. I recently retired and know what it is like. And I am now doing all that hustling that I did for myself, times 13 for all these other women now that I represent.
[00:19:43]Stef: Amazing. Well, why aren't there as many women? Agents out there today. Why do you think that is.
[00:19:50]Georgia : That's a very good question. I'm not too sure. I think that they, they are you know, emerging for sure. every so often we see, you know, women getting high roles in the professional sports industry, you know basketball hockey football, and it's amazing. And there needs more of them for sure.
a, it's a very male dominated industry and it takes a lot of courage to kind of step into that industry and say, I am a voice here and I am a player. it's challenging. And I think maybe like growing up with, with brothers I know how to deal with men.
I enjoy talking to men and women of course. comes naturally to me. And it's a whole lot of fun.
[00:20:29]Maddy : I have a quick question on this in dealing with a lot of the brands and companies that you're working with to try and, of course support us are a lot of the faces of those companies, women, or men that you are talking to all the time. Like, are those roles, women or men when it comes to the company?
[00:20:48]Georgia : I would say there's more men. I definitely am talking to women for sure. But I would assume that the percentage is definitely higher in, the male side of things.
[00:21:02]Stef: Yeah. The same thing goes for, for our interaction with brands, you know, it is still dominated by men in certain positions, especially like higher up ego, which is something we're trying to a little bit blow up here at voice and sport, because I would love for everybody before they buy a product from a brand to go.
So go check out their board, go check out their leadership makeup. How diverse is it maybe before you buy that particular brand? I think it's more and more important for people to understand who the brand is on the inside as well as the outside. So that brings me to my next question for you, Georgia is why is your agency.
[00:21:38]Georgia : well, I think we're different because I'm focusing on Canadian, female athletes to, to start. Right there I'm separating myself, from most, if not all agencies in the country, I'm really just trying to help these women create their brands truly and, and have the brands want to come to us and introducing myself to all the brands in Canada but also, you know, things are changing globally and now is the time to invest in women's sport and it's happening.
TV rights are going up, sponsorship dollars are going up because there's more exposure on TV and they're seeing the opportunity is there for women. So I'm just, you know, trying to stir the pot a little bit and have some tough conversations and they're, they're starting to.
[00:22:22]Zosia Bulhak: Thank you for listening to the voice in support podcast. My name is Zosia Bulhak and I am the producer of this voice and support podcast episode. I run track and cross country at the university of Houston. I love working with voice and support in order to empower young girls and women in sports. And I would love it if you would join us in trying to make it to.
Go follow us on Instagram tick-tock and Twitter at voices, port for more amazing content, you can also sign up for free and join our community of athletes. Uh, voice in support.com for mentorship, sports, content and inspiration. Thanks.
[00:22:59]Stef: I love it. I love stirring the pot. What are those tough conversations that you're, that you're really trying to stir up? What are they that are usually not, you know, you're not talked about or you feel like you're really trying to support those Canadian female athletes with
[00:23:12]Georgia : if I'm talking to a brand and , if I go to their website and I say, yeah, I see that you're supporting like 90% men, like let's have that conversation, you know? Where's the equality part of your brand? Like let's change that. And you know, those are definitely some of the many conversations that we're having and you know, putting people on the spot a little bit.
[00:23:32]Stef: what are the responses you're getting from those.
[00:23:36]Georgia : I think to be honest, It's more about how you present and it's sales, it's PR it's presenting yourself. It's not necessarily who I am representing. that's a big component of it. When you're having conversation with brands, it's really like, is there authenticity there, is there going to be mutual benefit to the, partnership?
And it's, creating that connection. It's creating that conversation, first of all, it's it starting a conversation. So something may not come about by me telling them, or, sharing with them. My, all female roster right now, but down the line, you know, in preparation for the Paris Olympics for example, a year or two years out of that, then these brands may remember, oh yeah, four months ago I had a conversation with AEG sports and we're looking for a couple of women and they represent 15, , it's continuing the conversation with everyone and it's staying on top of it.
[00:24:33]Maddy : We had an interesting call with, with a company. I feel like it was like a broadcast platform where they, I think had already, , you can correct me if I'm wrong, Georgia, but like 40 or something, male athletes. And they maybe had. Female. And so they were trying to add more, but none of their actions were showing that they were moving in that direction.
So they didn't have any women on either like their leadership team on their support team, on any of the kind of broadcast platforms that they were already doing. Like, so I think that's also the thing that matters is you can say all you want, that you want to assign female athletes. You can talk a big game, but if your actions are not lining up with that, then that's a brand that, you know, might not be in alignment with AIG or with, you know, other females.
[00:25:17]Stef: Absolutely. Well, let's talk about like the importance of women supporting other women and representing other women. I want to kind of dive into that. I mean, you said it yourself, your niche is women athletes from Canada. I'm wondering, are you going to allow any other nationalities in there or is it Canada?
Only for a little bit, but why? why do you think it's so important as women that we're supporting other women and representing other women in these experiences and conversations with brands?
[00:25:43]Georgia : Yes, I will be expanding not just to Canadian athletes to answer your question. And we may be dabbling in representing men. I'm going to put it out there. In the future for now we are focused on Canadian women. That is definitely our north star for now. I think we need to build each other up.
It's as simple as that, I think we need to stick with each other and stick in each other's corners and, build up more women part of boards of directors, CEO level. I think it's as simple as that. It's, staying true to who you are and, and supporting, supporting others and not putting them down.
And it's women helping women and building each other up.
[00:26:19]Stef: And in your guys's experience, when you're talking about a lot of the things that we're struggling with, sometimes as women athletes, our body image and comparison, how do you support each other in like this body image realm also when working with brands and representing each.
[00:26:36]Georgia : I think I'm just staying true to who my athletes are, I'm going to promote them as their authentic individual self and not promote anything or show a brand, anything else that they are. And I think that is really powerful, I'm just going to stay true to who each one of my athletes are.
And, they represent so much more than, doing a photo shoot for an underwear campaign, for example, there's just, I think it would just pigeon hole me. It would pigeon hole my athletes. And it would just look, really bad as, an example, and it's the reason why, people get asked on women's tennis, oh, look so great in that dress, in your outfit.
Like it's just ridiculous. there's so many, there's so much more to that one athlete and that's how I present them. And I think that stays true to who they are as an athlete. Yeah. An athlete the other day asked me she came back from the Olympics and I mean, it's a bit of a. Comment, but she said, I'm like, did you ever like get a bit depressed after the games, Georgia?
And I was like, oh gosh, like where do we begin? Like, I know what you're going through. And trust me, 99% of all the athletes that you competed with and against are going through the exact same thing. So I think it's, keeping each other in your corner and, keeping the good people, a part of your, part of your circle is really, what's going to elevate you as an athlete and as a human being and, and.
[00:27:58]Stef: Maddie. Did you want to add.
[00:28:00]Maddy : I reached out to Georgia for the same thing. I remember texting Jordan after the Olympics being like, Hey, I'm feeling really low. I'm feeling a lot of anxiety. I'm feeling all these. Tough things right now, after this high, this thing, I've worked my whole life and like career to achieve, and then you come home and it's like, whoa, why am I feeling this way?
how do we change this? So having Georgia who's had that experience and who has dealt with it and lived through it, be there as a support and like in solidarity and provide any insights that she can to, to help me work through that was, was really helpful. And just other athletes in the Canadian community as well, like even Haley Daniels and Marissa Franklin, like two friends that I've connected well with.
We've had conversations and calls that you just can be there for each other. Cause you understand what that feels like. So.
[00:28:48]Georgia : I, probably spoke to my, I mean, and it's nothing against him. , I probably spoke to each one of the athletes that I represent more in the first week than I ever spoke to my agent. I think it's having that connection it gets you to know who you're dealing with, who they are, their personality, who they are as a human being.
And I think that's really meaningful and it's really.
[00:29:16]Stef: let's maybe piggyback off of that and start talking about like tools and tips for, for all these women athletes out there right now in college and in professional athletics that are trying to determine, like, do I sign with an agent? When do I sign with an agent and what agent do I sign with?
What should female athletes be watching out for when it comes to an agent? Maybe not doing something right. Or like, if your agent's doing XYZ, you might want to think about, are you with the right agent?
Are there watch outs that we can share with the community?
[00:29:51]Georgia : Watch out for anyone representing you in an inauthentic way and watch out for someone that doesn't have your best interests at heart.
[00:30:01]Maddy : Watch out for agents that may be crossing the line into other responsibilities outside of representing you, whether that's performance or any other aspect of your sport?
[00:30:12]Georgia : and Watch out for any information in a contract that may not make sense to you.
[00:30:18]Stef: Yeah, I think that's great advice. So Maddie, just walk us through your experience . And like, obviously you decided to go with amazing Georgia here, but you know, when did you really first sign with an agent and what made you decide to do it and why.
[00:30:36]Maddy : Yeah. So I think it's also interesting for track because a lot of track athletes have other agents to get us into meets. And so I originally had signed with an agency that helps get into, to meets and I no longer work with that agency. There they're great in some ways, but I think Georgia hit the nail on the head.
I talked to them very infrequently. I felt like I was doing a ton of the work to, to brand myself and to get myself opportunities. And so when Georgia and I talked and she was like, kind of floating the idea at first, I'm like, Hey, I'm going to do this. Like, what do you think? And I was just excited for this next chapter, but Jordan, I had connected more as friends.
And like as a mentor for me first, before the agency had ever even come into play, we had met at an athlete retreat and I looked up to Georgia so much as an athlete and as a human. And so we had that connection right off the bat. And so when this opportunity arose and she said, Hey, I'd love to have you on this roster.
I was immediately first honored that I was in that, in that ballpark of people that she wanted to represent. And then two, it felt like the perfect combination of someone who I connected with someone who is a female who's gone through that who has built her brand in all the work in the coffee shops, like she said.
So I would say to younger athletes, like talk to a bunch of agents share, like do your research, but really take notes. Write down who you connect with. Do they have your best interests kind of ask the tough questions? Yeah, and really the connection is the key. I think for me in signing with.
[00:32:09]Stef: Anything you want to add Georgia.
[00:32:12]Georgia : no, I think to be honest, the college scene is a very, very different scene than, than Canadian Olympic sport. I won't say that I'm an expert in it. I think Maddie nailed it on the head, you know, do your research and, and go with your gut. I think those are two really important things to kind of work from.
And I mean, yeah. Talk like talk around and have a good feeling about, about your decision,
[00:32:34]Stef: So when do you think girls should start looking at getting an agent now with NFL rights? That are a bit more open for college athletics to have opportunities.
[00:32:44]Georgia : Maddie. It depends. I feel like you might be able to answer that question coming from.
[00:32:49]Maddy : Yeah, I think it's changed so much since I've been in college with NFL coming out, but I would say to look at your own specific situation, are you getting a lot of offers or people coming your way? And if it's something that you can handle and you can kind of talk to those brands, yourself, look online for so many resources reach out to other athletes and use your community to try and navigate that.
But if you are getting a lot, then it could be worth reaching out to agents and having those conversations to see if they can help you elevate those brands and those potential.
[00:33:23]Stef: Yeah, I think that's great advice. And also just continuing to work on your own brand yourself. Right. And leveraging some of the work that you can do in coffee shops. Like we've been talking about here with each other as a starting point, right. I think what's also really interesting about choosing an agency is like, there's these really big agencies out there.
So I wanted to talk about this. Right? You have Wasserman octagon, like all these like massive agencies, and then you have smaller ones popping up and start up ones like AIG, like with incredible women leaders like yourself. How do you choose between like big and small when it comes to representation?
[00:34:01]Georgia : First of all, I was never in that situation where I had, you know, Wasserman or an octagon come my way as a little, you know, Canadian, super G skier. I think it really comes down to having those conversations, really doing your homework. And, and that comes back to, I think, your gut feeling of who you connect with.
I mean, similar, I guess when you're picking a college to, to choose from, I mean, this is a very important decision and trusting people that are in your network, you know, not trusting someone that is brand new to your network maybe, or your support system, really trusting those people that you have had a long-term relationship with potentially in your support network, whether that's a family member or another type of supporter.
And, and yeah, like listening to.
[00:34:44]Maddy : Yeah, I think like also some of the big ones. Sometimes, I think as athletes, you may have the potential to get lost in the mix of all of the high profile athletes that these big agencies support. And there's also the pros too. Like they have this crazy, this structure and network, so that's a pro, but at the same time, at least for me, why it's worked so well with Georgia is that I know she's a hustler and she is working so hard for all of her athletes and cares about them all.
So I know that I'm not going to get lost in that kind of washing machine of a lot of really high profile athletes that they're supporting,
[00:35:17]Stef: I think that's a great point. I mean, crystal Dunn just left Wassermann herself to go to a smaller agency, also run by a woman. So I think that there's a lot to say for like, just checking in with your gut and how you're feeling. Like, do you feel like you're getting the attention?
Do you feel like you're getting the responses? Like, are the deals coming your way? Like just have a good sense of like, what is happening around you to make that decision?
And that kind of leads me, to like core values. If a woman is like out there thinking about, okay, how do I look for an agent? What are the core values that is, that are important to be looking for in an agent? How do you know you are getting a good agent?
[00:35:55]Georgia : I think it really comes down to, you know, personal connection. You're going to be dealing with this one person for, you know, for the next, however many years you signed. So you want to be, I think you want to be connected to that person and, and what are their values?
What are their values as a, as an individual and as, as the agency that they run.
[00:36:15]Maddy : but I would say like, if you can try and talk to some of their athletes that they've represented in the past, right. Because those athletes, they have the best picture of how that agent has supported and helps them. And, you know, is, is the agent honest? Are they true to their word? . Do they have integrity?
I think those are just some of the key ones that you really need as an.
[00:36:33]Stef: What are some of the important like contract things like words, you know, terms that girls should know when they're heading into like actually signing a deal with an agent what's important for them to.
[00:36:47]Georgia : I think the number one thing that is important is you probably don't have a ton of research looking at contracts. So having multiple set of eyes read three through that contract, I think is.
[00:36:59]Maddy : Yep. And don't be afraid to make comments on the contractors. Only ask questions. So if you have those set of eyes that look over it, and you still have those questions, don't be afraid to ask those questions to the agent. Like I think at first I felt like not with Georgia, but within the past, like, I would look dumb for asking these questions.
Cause I should just know them, but no one, like you wouldn't just know those questions, contractual questions, unless you had done the research or in law. So don't be afraid to ask those questions, make comments and vouch for yourself. If something feels uncomfortable in a contract, say it, and then a negotiation can happen.
[00:37:31]Stef: That's right. If you see a word you don't know, ask about it. It's okay. It's better to know the new sign, something you don't know. Let's talk a little bit about just numbers. Like what can you expect to be paying your agents? Like what is a fee structure? That's pretty common and like a range for athletes, you know, let's say just coming out of college, getting their first agent, how can we give some perspective here to our community?
So they know a starting point.
[00:37:58]Georgia : I think it's different in, in the states than it is in Canada. But I think you know a general range is anywhere between 15 and 30% is their percentage that they're going to earn. And I've really shifted, you know, of course, now that I am representing the athletes that I work with you know, it depends on of course like the contract and, and.
And the people that you're dealing with, but, you know, they're earning this fee for a reason depending on the scope of the work and the, and the partnership and, and, you know, everything that goes into it. But you know, I used to think as an athlete, like, oh, he's taking 20% of my sponsorship.
Like, and that's what all athletes say for sure. I mean, that's, you know what they say, but being on the other side of it, I am like, dang, that was a lot of work for not very much money. Like, of course there's two sides to every conversation, of course. But I think to, to like, maybe try to understand the work that goes into the actual communication, the, the numbers, the details the scope of the work, what may be that partnership, how it started to then how it evolved is really important to see. And yeah, I think that, I think that's probably been the funniest kind of thing of switching, you know, now starting my business and seeing the other side of it is like, I earned this. Like there's no like, like cuts and that stuff, like, I don't use that terminology anymore because 20% is what the agency earns.
And of course, like, you know, I'm always happy to have a conversation with athletes, but we, you know, the business needs to grow itself too, right?
[00:39:37]Maddy : That was something I think, like, I remember we had that talk, cause at first I was like, oh, if I bring in my own partnership or like sponsorship, then like, do, do you get a cut of that? But then what we talked about and what I really understood is that okay, if I bring that person in, but then Georgia negotiates for more of that partnership, then like she should still earn some of that because that negotiation is a key part of getting investment dollars and support from that company.
So even if I like was, you know, the lead that had that connection and brought it in Georgia is still doing a lot of work that deserves to be paid as well. So that was an interesting thing as an athlete of like, yeah, that athlete mindset, if they're taking this much and, and once you understand how much work goes into that and the negotiation skills behind that, that really helps support the athlete.
That was awesome to have those open conversations with Georgia.
[00:40:25]Georgia : I think a massive massively key component too is, and I hate to say this, but this is probably more, more predominant in women than men is women do not want to talk about themselves with the dollar amount and saying this and giving a brand or a company of value to them as an individual as an athlete, as a human being.
So that is where the agency comes in. And trust me, I will always represent you higher than what you think you are worth as an athlete. And that I think that's just like, so I think it's. It's a bit liberating to just like put it off and say, I know that there, I know that this person is doing the best that they can to bring me the highest dollar amount and value to who I am as an athlete.
And and I'm going to trust her in that process. I will say I have experienced , some of the athletes that I've represented or are new, I moved to working with an agency and a few times they have said Georgia, I said yes to a speech. And I said, yes, for $0.
And I said, Hmm, okay. Let's work around this. Let me see. When's the speech, first of all, is it tomorrow? So that has happened more than once. And I have let's just say tickets. Take another breath, held my tongue and tried to do the best that I possibly can with the situation. And I really hope my athletes have learned their lesson because it hasn't happened again, at least with those two.
But it really comes down to trust. I really think that's a big component of, of who you're working with and trusting that they're really, they truly have your best interest in, in heart.
[00:42:03]Maddy : you have disclaimer, of one of those athletes was me. I took $0 and Georgia was like Madding. Yeah, but this was a good lesson. This was a very good lesson because Raja was like, Maddie. The biggest lesson is you have to know your worth. And I remember you said that and it has stuck with me. And in future talks that I've had, I have asked for more and have made sure that I am.
Money for my time and value for my time and energy put into something. So it was a very good lesson and I'm grateful that Georgia was there to kind of like also save the day. She did talk with them and, and got me, got me some money for this time and energy that I spent with a company. So, yeah, lesson learned and grateful for Georgia.
[00:42:42]Georgia : The people that are asking you to come on to be a keynote speaker, for example, are they getting paid most certainly. So I think that's a good question to ask yourself.
[00:42:56]Stef: And it's so important to just talk about money. You know, I love talking about money. We need to talk about money more and we want young girls also to start talking about money. So just in the spirit of that, let's talk about money a little bit more like what's an average deal. A girl in college, or a young professional athlete should expect just in terms of ranges, you know, and for exchange of what I know, obviously it really depends on like the athlete professional level, the, the awareness and the following that each athlete has.
And there's a whole bunch of like, there's a recipe. I know there is that like brands take when they're considering to offer money for X athlete to do Y but can you just give us like 30,000 feet? Like what kind of money is out there right now for after.
[00:43:43]Georgia : Maddie probably has more information than this. Honestly, being closer, connected to the college world than I am. But I will say every single brand that I talk to inquires pretty quickly into the conversation about social media presence. So I can say for a fact that that is a massive component to an athlete and connecting with sponsors and partners is building their social media presence as a brand.
[00:44:16]Maddy : Yeah. And I think. To the social media thing. I struggle with that. I'm trying to get better at it. I don't necessarily enjoy doing some of the social media side. I know that it's important to my brand and I try and put out just my authentic self in it. And I think to younger girls trying to like, yes, the following and that is somewhat important, but I would just stay true to yourself and stay authentic.
There are so many what they call like micro influencers, right? A lot of people who have a small following, but haven't engaged following because they are their authentic selves and brands like that. And they want to work with people like that. So I would say to younger girls that, yes, like it's great to have that massive following that will help, but at the end of the day, just stay true to yourself.
Post what's true to you and partnerships will, will come and you can also reach out to them. I've reached out to so many companies like on DMS. My first professional year, before I've ever worked with Georgia said, this is who I am. This is. I kind of what I do this, the times I've run in like some of my accomplishments, then also what I care about.
And I got a mattress for free because I had like an old hand-me-down mattress out of college. And I reached out to this mattress company my first year pro and got like a $2,000 mattress for free. And I had to post about them and I had very little following, but I just put myself out there. I reached out to the brand, said who they were and kind of put an email together, looked at some templates online.
So even doing stuff like that and just trusting in yourself,
[00:45:40]Georgia : I think also athletes forget. They truly forget when they are immersed in their sport. They forget that they're doing something very quick. And they forget that the outside world really actually does want to see what they're doing every day, because they're doing it every day and it may be Monday.
Sometimes for them, they don't want to post, so they don't want to ask a teammate to take a photo of them, but trust me, other people are interested and are very engaged in what you do. And as Maddie put it, it really comes down to being your authentic self. It's find who you are as an athlete. What is the story?
What is the message you want to get out there and stay true to that? And so when you're posting about your breakfast, like maybe that is very, very on par and, and you know, engaged with your audience, but maybe it's not. You know, I think it's really staying true to who you are and finding out who, what your messages and what your legacy wants to be on social media and stick with that.
It will become way more natural, the more you do it. I mean, and of course like the, the simple, basic kind of tools of, of consistency and, and yeah, I mean, really, it comes down to consistency and it's a job. I think a lot of people also forget that it is seriously a part of who you are as an athlete now.
And it is it's, it it's very, time-consuming, it doesn't have to be, you know, it doesn't have to take away from your sport and your training, but it is time-consuming, but it will pay off in the.
[00:47:15]Stef: Love it. Well, let's talk about then just sort of building your brand and I want to hear from, from both of you guys, just like, what are your top two tips for building your own brand?
What would you tell athletes? Maddie, let's start with.
[00:47:29]Maddy : yeah, I've struggled with this a little bit. Cause I think I, at first, when building your brand is such a big term, it's like, what does that actually mean? And I've heard so many people have like saying stick, like, no. Your wife stick to your message, know that type of thing. But for awhile, I was like, what is my message?
I struggled so much to know what that is. And as soon as I started to understand that my message can be fluid, it can start as one thing and grow. As I grow as an athlete helped me a lot to not get bogged down in all the little nitty-gritties of like the language I'm using to describe myself or your brand in that way.
So I would say that one, that like start with something and just put it out there. I think I'm saying this advice right now, but I struggle with it. I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I want what I put out on Instagram or Tik TOK or something to be good, but like Georgia said, the consistency in brand building is the key.
So I'm working on that myself to try and just put it out there and not worry about it being great, or it being like at a high level. Cause we're used to performing at a high level. I think with track, I want everything else in my life to meet before we get a high level through. And that's, you know, I'm still learning social media.
So those would be my two things. Your message can be fluid in your brand building. Just start with something and it can grow and then just throw it out there. It doesn't have to be perfect. So I'm saying that advice to myself today to.
[00:48:51]Stef: I love that perfectionism can be a killer. Right? I mean, that's what they say in entrepreneurship as well. So it's like, it's a, it's an important lesson. Okay, Georgia, what about you?
[00:49:02]Georgia : Yeah, I think ditto to what Maddie said. It's being, I think truly being authentic is, is very, very important. I think it could probably easily bite you in the butt if you're not or can drain you and wear you out. If you're someone that you're not, not being on social media or if you're being someone that you are not, excuse me.
And I think someone once told me, like, what is, it sounds very cliche, but what is relevant? What is your elevator pitch? Find a couple of key words that resonate with you as an athlete. And as, as Maddie said, that can change over time. But as soon as I found those key words and nouns that resonated with me, it kinda like lifted everything away and it became much more clear and easier to, to, to share with the world who I am and what I'm all about.
[00:49:47]Maddy : What were those?
[00:49:50]Georgia : You're putting me on the spot here, but it was like, I I went after my goals as an athlete to, to challenge, you know, NSOC that thought I was doing something wrong. So I know this is not a one-sentence thing, but it cultivated around going after my goals and inspiring people to do the same thing.
I remember that's what my like little sentence was. And I don't remember exactly what it is now, but it was, it was, it was, yeah, it was around that.
[00:50:19]Stef: Love that. that's so good. Okay. Well, Georgia, we want to see way more women agents like yourself and way more women starting companies. So what is the advice you would give to women and young girls out there on how to become an agent and start their own agencies to represent female?
[00:50:37]Georgia : I think this resonates not just to agency. But I think, you know, most women are dealing with a lot of men on a daily basis. And I think it's, it really comes down to, you know, stepping into a room and owning who you are being your bold, confident self it's. I think it's as simple as that.
And, and really like demanding presence in, in a, you know, respectful way, but it's being your bold, confident self and showing up it's, it's really showing up and, and, and being proud of.
[00:51:06]Stef: Love that. Well, a lot of.
what we do at voice and sport is provide mentorship to young girls. So I'd like to end our podcast with our signature question. So let's start with you. Mattie, what is one single piece of advice you would tell your younger self in sport?
[00:51:19]Maddy : my younger self. I would tell her to not be so hard on herself. I think all of us, especially like chasing the big dreams that Georgia was talking about and being bold and confident. We tend to be really hard on ourselves and I still am, but it's something that just to enjoy it and yeah, take it day by day and not worry too much.
And then this is kind of a second piece of advice, but I know you only, I said one, but I'm going to add a little one is to just, when you find those people that you connect with, those mentors really invest in them and reach out. I'm grateful that I met Georgia and we built that relationship and then it has blossomed into this amazing kind of agent athlete relationship as well.
And that wouldn't have happened unless we had both kind of cultivated that. And I had asked her questions following our initial meeting. So I would say invest in those mentors that people that you connect with as well.
[00:52:13]Stef: And by the way, all of our visit league mentors always have more than one piece of advice at the end of the podcast. So you're following right in line with that, Georgia, what would be your one single piece of advice for young?
[00:52:25]Georgia : I was recently asked this and that's why I laughed Maddie, because I said the exact same thing. Well, it was, it was twofold. It was really not to be so hard on yourself because that 12 year old me, when I didn't do well at a ski race, really, truly didn't change the course or, or that wouldn't change the course of my, you know, entire athletic career.
I probably one the next one, you know, and, and all the worries went away. That one event does not shape the course of your career. And, hard work pays off and I keep having fun.
[00:52:58]Stef: What is one thing that you would like to see changed for the future of women's sports?
[00:53:03]Georgia : Oh my gosh. It quality.
[00:53:04]Maddy : Yeah. I would say increased storytelling. I know it's on these podcasts and on a lot of other really women's sport focused media channels. That's key. But I think on like the big, big media, traditional media outlets, it's still not the case. And to like see the stories and understand what's behind the scenes of all these women athletes and their success would just help younger girls to see that they could do it as well, because they see that behind the scenes.
It's not just like on the podium, the stories behind it would be cool.
[00:53:37]Stef: Absolutely. Well, we're doing our part to tell the stories of biz, but we are also advocating with the bigger media companies to, you know, step up the representation and I think we need to do both so we can do our part, but we also need to advocate and, and get those bigger players like onboard. So I appreciate that.
You said that, and it's been such a pleasure to have you both on this podcast. Thank you for joining us and just having, you know, such a real conversation about, both of your journeys. I'm excited to see where Georgia, where you take this company and Maddie to see you now all over the place with your new representation.
So really pumped to both have you on here. So thank you for coming.
[00:54:15]Maddy : Thank you.
[00:54:17]Georgia : Thank you so much.
[00:54:18]Stef:This week’s episode was produced by and edited by VIS creator Jasmine Jackson a track and field athlete from University of Kentucky and VIS Creator Zosia Bulhak, a track and cross country runner from the University of Houston.
Maddy and Georgia share really important advice about the agent-athlete relationship. They discuss how their relationship evolved, and give us tips on what to look for in an agent, what to avoid, and how to advocate for ourselves when we are beginning to work with an agency. They also share strategies for marketing ourselves on social media, and share what brands might look for when partnering with athletes.
Whether you are signing with a big agency like Wasserman, or a smaller one like Georgia’s AG sports, it is so important to feel heard and respected as the athlete, but also to acknowledge and respect how much work your agent puts into finding you the best deals and partnerships!
We are so grateful for Maddy and Georgia to share their knowledge and stories with our community, and we are excited to see what the future holds for them.
You can follow Maddy Price and Georgia Simmerling @Maddypriceless and @gsimmerling
You might also want to check out some previous episodes with amazing Canadian athletes, like Podcast #80 with professional beach volleyball player, Melissa Humana Paredes about How we respond to failure.
Head to the FEED on VOICEINSPORT and filter by “JOURNEY” or by “RUNNING” and spend some time diving into the incredible free resources we have at VIS. Check out the sessions page and filter by Professional Athlete or Journey and sign up for one of the free or paid sessions with our VIS League mentors like “MADDY PRICE” or VIS Experts. Please click on the SHARE button in this episode and send it to another athlete that you think might enjoy this conversation.
See you next week on the Voice in Sport Podcast.
Canadian Olympian turned sports agent, Georgia Simmerling, and Maddy Price, Tokyo Olympian in the 400m, give us tips on what to look for in an agent, what to avoid, and how to advocate for ourselves when beginning to work with an agency.