By Chris Chavez
July 3, 2023
Lake Oswego High School (OR) junior Mia Brahe-Pedersen has signed a Name Image Likeness deal with Nike. She is the first U.S. high school track and field athlete to ink an NIL deal with the sportswear giant.
Here’s what you need to know:
– Brahe-Pedersen is one of the best high school sprinters in the country. She just ran 22.43s to win the 200m at the Nike Outdoor Nationals, which is the second-fastest outdoor time in high school history behind Allyson Felix’s 22.11 from 2003. She has also run 11.00 for 100m, which is No. 4 on the high school all-time list behind Shawnti Jackson’s 10.89s from last month, Briana Williams’ 10.94 from 2019 and Candance Hill’s 10.98 from 2015.
– She broke the Oregon state 100m record as a sophomore when she ran 11.25s for 100m at the USATF U20 Championships in Eugene. The previous record stood for 54 years.
– She went on to represent the United States at the World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia. She finished seventh in the 100m final and fourth in the 200m final.
– This year, she won the Nike Indoor Nationals 60m and 200m titles in March. She claimed the 100m, 200m and 4x400m relay titles at Nike Outdoor Nationals last month. She also won the Oregon state titles in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m relay.
– Last month, she garnered mainstream media attention in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and ABC News for beating her prom date in the 100m at the Secure Storage Summit Invitational in Bend, Oregon.
– Brahe-Pedersen is privately coached by her Lake Oswego High School head coach, John Parks and his sprints assistant, 2012 U.S. Olympian Ryan Bailey. She also trains and competes with the Inner Circle Track Club led by Hashim Hall.
When is she racing next?
– Brahe-Pedersen is entered in the 100m at the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships and will race against pros like Sha’Carri Richardson, Aleia Hobbs and Melissa Jefferson. She initially weighed the option of racing at the USATF U20 Championships but decided against it so that she would be eligible for selection on the NACAC U23 Championships, which will be held in Costa Rica from July 21-23.
The USATF U20 Championships will be held in Eugene this weekend as well and serves as the qualifying meet for the Pan Am U20 Championships in August.
What to know about NIL and Nike
– NIL entered the collegiate landscape in 2021 and allows student-athletes to earn compensation with a brand while levering their name, image and likeness through marketing or promotional content.
– Major sportswear company NIL deals with high school athletes have not been all that common. Nike signed Harvard-Westlake soccer players Alyssa and Gisele Thompson as the first high school athletes to NIL deals with the brand in May 2022. Nike also signed high school basketball stars Bronny James, Juju Watkins and D.J. Wagner to NIL deals in October 2022.
– Nike signed an NIL deal with Australian high school distance running star Cameron Myers, who has run 3:35.88 for 1500m.
– Florida’s Parker Valby, the NCAA champion in the 5000m, was just announced as Nike’s first female track and field athlete NIL deal. The sportswear giant also had an NIL deal with Stanford’s NCAA cross country champion Charles Hicks before he decided to turn pro and sign with the brand.
We spoke with Brahe-Pedersen on Sunday afternoon to discuss her NIL deal and upcoming race plans. The following interview has been edited lightly for clarity.
First high school track and field athlete to land an NIL deal with Nike. How does that honor sound to you?
Mia Brahe-Pedersen: “It is so weird to put into words because it almost doesn't feel like I deserve it. There are other athletes who are very worthy of being sponsored by such a big company. Now that I have the opportunity to be sponsored by them, I think I can just take my career so much further. So I'm really excited.”
There are a lot of cool connections here. You're a high school star from Oregon and it's a famously Oregon-based company. What is that Oregonian pride like when you connect all those different dots?
“I love Oregon a lot. The people here – just the whole culture of Oregon, I really love it here. So the fact that I can be signed with a company based out of Oregon that is known worldwide, it just shows that even though Oregon is sometimes overlooked – we can do big things and we have our special moments. Just like how Nike went from a small little Oregon-based company to a worldwide company. I'm going to hopefully go from a small Oregon-known athlete to a world-renowned sprinter.”
Last summer you made the finals of the 100m and the 200m at the World U20 Championships in Columbia. You were just 16 years old. What did you take away from that experience that has helped make this season a big success?
“Honestly, my experience at the World Championships last summer didn't necessarily go how I wanted it to go. Although I obviously wish it could have gone better, I overall just learned so much…The most important part about being an athlete is having something not go your way so you can learn how to deal with it and just move forward and carry that experience with you throughout the rest of your career. So I think that was a big moment for me…The best part about it was that I did it surrounded by a bunch of amazing athletes who supported me and who I was able to support. I had a fun time. I just think overall it was a big learning experience.”
How do you feel getting into the blocks and then possibly looking to your left and seeing a Sha'Carri Richardson or an Aleia Hobbs–is there a little part of you that is sort of like, ‘Am I really doing this?’
“Oh, yeah, definitely. The feeling is just kind of surreal, like, ‘Oh my gosh, these are people that I've been looking up to for years and now I'm standing right next to them on the starting line!’... But the goal is to almost ignore that they are there once I am on the line and just run my race.
The last thing I should do is let myself get caught up in everything that they're trying to do and get starstruck. I need to focus on my race. I'd love to be able to learn from them, which is another benefit of taking part in the senior championships because I'm still so new to the world of track and field relative to them.
I have a lot to learn and I think being able to race against them and work alongside them and just kind of see how they do everything [is helpful].”
I think you have at least one edge on them: You’ve raced at Hayward Field so many times that you might be more familiar with it. You've had so many memorable moments in Eugene. What stands out to you right now as your favorite?
“Hayward is such a magical place that I feel like every time I step on the track, something memorable happens. I would say my number one [memorable moment] was making the U.S. team in the 100m…Going in as the underdog and then coming out having made the U20 U.S. national team was just a huge moment and a huge confidence booster. It just showed me what my future can hold and to never count myself out.
I think the 100m has always been really fascinating to me because like I said, people don't really expect me to be good at it. So when I can prove people wrong, it's really fun for me.”
High school girls’ sprints are on another level. Adaejah Hodge and you have a whole year ahead. The 10.94s high school record for 100m or 22.11s high school record for 200m doesn't seem all that crazy to think about. How often do you think about breaking records?
“Honestly, I kind of let it take over my development a bit too much, chasing these records. For instance, there have been a couple of times where I think I should have dipped below 11 seconds in the 100m…there have been so many situations where I look back at that race…and just didn't do it properly because I was pushing for the time and my coach said, ‘you could tell that you were really straining to get to that line to get that time’. So if I can just put it out of my head and focus on doing what I need to do, that's when it will come. And I think that'll come with maturity. I'm only 17, so I'm obviously still developing that. Once I can do that, I think the records will fall.”
Final thing: how would you define success at the U.S. Championships this weekend? What is going to make for a great performance?
“I think overall a successful weekend would be if I can stay healthy and make sure the mental aspect of my entire race is straight in line. That would be a huge success for me because being in these big championships is definitely overwhelming. If I can make sure that I'm staying calm, and that I'm doing what I need to do, I think the rest will take care of itself. If I can make it to the finals–my coach said that it's definitely not out of the picture.
It's going to be hard and it's going to be a stretch that I'm going to have to push through every round…and I think that might honestly be good for me so that I can have more chances running really fast to hopefully get some quick time to make myself feel more confident. But I don't think making the finals is out of the picture at all. It's going to be hard, but it's not out of the picture.”
Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.