As a site exclusively focused on the NWSL college draft, it’s important to highlight not only the players who will be drafted, but also the individuals who support those players. We can learn a lot through mock drafts and data analysis, but to fully understand the draft process, it’s imperative to feature the stories and experiences of those involved in the event.
We reached out to Tay Hawker of Halo Sport to share his perspective on the NWSL draft as an agent representing several players.
For players entering the draft, what are the advantages of having an agent?
I’ll be the first to say you don’t NEED an agent. Thanks to the wonderful support from the NWSLPA players can do fine without an agent in their first year in the NWSL.
With that being said, agents can be very useful for some athletes that may not be high on the radar for NWSL clubs. We send out film, resumes, get on calls and market our athletes to the teams. We use our relationships with clubs to discuss the value of our athletes and discuss where they can fit into the teams needs and current schemes. Early in my career I was a scouting assistant for the St. Louis Rams, where I saw the level of resources the NFL has. Sadly, the NWSL is not there yet, so agents can play a useful role in finding potentially undervalued players. Similarly, it can be beneficial to have an agent that can walk through your contract with you, explain what certain things mean and be an expert in the field. There are nuanced situations where an agent is great early in your career like going overseas, contract exercises and renegotiations.
How do you prepare before the draft? And how do you help your clients prepare?
Personally, I touch base with all of my friends at teams and gain an understanding of what they are looking for. I then assess my clients and see what would work with them. I have an important responsibility to be candid, honest and trustworthy to ensure teams know that I am there to help.
My clients get in as good shape as possible. The step up from college to NWSL can be brutal. It is important they are physically ready when their number is called.
Do teams contact you about interest in your clients? Or is that done through a coach or directly with the player? What is that interaction like?
All of the above. Teams have their preferred methods of communication and some have great relationships with certain people. I love when teams come through me, but they have their contact information. I don’t mind if they go straight to the player. Whatever gets the player the best possible situation is what makes me happiest.
How do you find players to represent? Do they contact you? Or do you reach out to them? If you reach out to them, how do you know who to reach out to.
Again all of the above. I work very hard on my recruiting board and reach out to a select few. But majority of my clients come from word of mouth. My current clients suggesting me to their friends makes me so happy. My athletes know I will be there for them no matter what, so don’t feel like new clients are a threat, just a bigger family.
Declaring for the NWSL draft is a big decision for a player, are there benefits to doing that earlier in the college season? Or later in the season?
Draft registration typically opens after the season, so whenever it opens I suggest getting in. Are their firm benefits either way? Hard to say. Might as well get in so teams can see you’re there.
Are there any improvements you’d like to see to the NWSL draft process?
Yes and no. I would say earlier information, some of the girls get anxious trying to gauge whether they are going to get drafted, if they should go to the draft etc. Some find out days before if they’re invited to the draft. It would be awesome if it was more drawn out similar to the NFL so the girls can make life plans. However, I understand the NWSL has limited resources surrounding this and they also don’t know. So I hope this changes as the years progress. Other than that, I think the NWSL does a great job and it’s only getting better.
What is your favorite part about representing these players?
Oh I could write a novel here. Coming from agencies in some other sports – these athletes are the kindest, grateful, hard-working, funniest and communicative athletes I’ve ever worked with. An absolute joy to work with. I wouldn’t change it for the world.