Virginia Tech's Liz Kitley partners with Gourmet Pantry in NIL deal

On3 imageby:Andy Wittry01/06/23


Virginia Tech center and reigning ACC Player of the Year Liz Kitley is partnering with the Gourmet Pantry & Cooking School for an “All-American cooking class” in a creative NIL activation. Kitley and Gourmet Pantry’s owner Roya Gharavi will hold the cooking class at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

The Virginia Tech-focused marketing agency Triumph NIL helped facilitate the activation.

It’s a creative partnership as it incorporates one of Kitley’s interests outside of basketball, an in-person experience for fans to interact with a star player away from the court and it takes place during the season on a night when the Hokies don’t have a game.

Fans can register at Gourmet Pantry’s website. Reservations for the two-and-a-half-hour class cost $120. Gourmet Pantry’s website says attendees will make some of Kitley and Gharavi’s favorite dishes.

“Not only is Liz talented on the basketball court, but she also has many other talents including cooking,” the event description states.

Triumph NIL provides athletes with a questionnaire after signing

After Triumph NIL signs an athlete, the marketing agency will provide the athlete with a questionnaire, and a lighthearted warning.

“We warn them ahead of time, like, ‘There’s a lot of questions on this. A lot of it’s going to seem irrelevant but just go with it. Be honest,'” Triumph NIL COO Robyn Jones said in a phone interview. “So we want to know about their interests. What are the things they like doing off the court? This is one of things that Liz loves doing. She loves cooking. She loves tasting food.

“She loves fine cuisine and so the opportunity came to pair up with Roya at Gourmet Pantry, which that is her area of expertise is providing fine cuisine and teaching people with her cooking school and providing gourmet products through her store. That just seemed like a really perfect match and a really perfect opportunity to showcase what these powerhouse women are doing, both off the court for Kitley and showcase her with someone else who’s at the top of her game in what she’s doing and really just let them have fun with it.”

Liz Kitley was named a preseason All-American

In the fall, Kitley was named a preseason AP All-American and the preseason ACC Player of the Year. The 6-foot-6 center was included on the watch lists for the Lisa Leslie Award, Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award and Wade Trophy.

Through 14 games this season, Kitley is averaging 18.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.6 assists per game. She’s shooting 54.1 percent from the field and 75.3 percent from the free throw line.

“The pressure’s on athletes of state stature to perform, obviously, but it’s on us as well to help look for opportunities that they might not be considering, that people may not be considering them for,” Jones said. “I think there’s a whole other dynamic we can get into for women athletes when you talk about that.”

Triumph NIL signed Kitley in September, prior to the start of her senior season. At the time, she was one of 58 Virginia Tech athletes who had signed with Triumph NIL, which On3 named one of the most ambitious marketing agencies or collectives in the country.

“I’m very excited to sign with Triumph and am looking forward to working together this year,” Kitley said in a press release at the time. “It’s great to work with people who have experience at Virginia Tech and I am ready for the opportunities being brought my way!”

Triumph NIL previously facilitated a partnership between Kitley and CMG Leasing. She agreed to promote CMG properties through public appearances and social media posts.

Kitley currently promotes custom merch available online at The Hokies NIL Store through the platform Campus Ink. Her last name and jersey number are on the back of the t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Kitley also has a Cameo profile, where she promotes personalized videos.