Student Athlete Column: Michael Capone Connects Timberland with Students

NIL and social media has granted college students unprecedented opportunities to grow their brand and find partnerships that work with their busy schedules. For Michael Capone, that meant becoming a brand ambassador for the Timberland Company.


Capone is a senior on the track team and a Timberland CBM. (Courtesy of Michael Capone)

In the new age of name, image and likeness and social media, so many college students, whether or not athletes, have found ways to make money online. Being a campus representative for a big time brand is an opportunity that many people can and have pursued.

However, athletes’ decisions to choose which brands to sign with do not come easy. There are so many offers that are now being launched that it is hard to decipher between what is real and what is fake. 

My teammate and friend, senior sprinter Michael Capone, had difficulty figuring out how to become a brand ambassador for any company that would take him. However, he was direct messaged by someone who told him that they would grant him a deal that he wanted. He thought it was a sketchy request but responded, risking the chance. It happened to grant him a brand ambassador opportunity with the Timberland Company as it looks to expand its social media presence. 

There is more to daily life than running and taking on a grueling sport for Capone. He has an online presence that he needs to maintain as a representative of both a company and a school.

Capone is a Timberland campus brand manager (CBM). Newbridge Marketing Group contacted Capone, a company focused on granting college students ambassadorship opportunities. The representative who contacted Capone said that her company connects students with “opportunities with large companies.” 

Vague enough. Capone noted his reasoning, or lackthereof, for being selected. He said, “I’m not sure what their algorithm was to find people, but I guess I fit the criteria.”

Every week, Capone is expected to post a picture of him repping Timberland gear. For his feed, this happens “in the cycle of story one week, feed the next” he said. Capone is given a topic for each week’s posts. One example that he posted about focused on service for others and creating a healthy environment. Using ambassadors has proven to be great benefit for Timberland as it looks to become a brand with representation.

Capone has some restrictions that do not allow him to post as freely as expected because he is a student-athlete and therefore a Fordham representative. “As a student athlete, I have to make sure anything I post on behalf of Timberland is in line with compliance here at Fordham,” he explained. “That being said, things like Fordham’s logo, my uniform and the track are all things prohibited to be in the photo.” In spite of that, “I haven’t run into any problems thus far.” he said.

Capone is not alone in representing Timberland across campus. Sophomore Bella Sabino and senior Monica Santiago are also CBMs for the company. While they are not student athletes, Sabino and Santiago are required to be as active on Instagram as Capone. The three ambassadors bring their heads together to host events where they give out Timberland gear and hope to spread awareness on the company’s beliefs. “The three of us just hosted an open mic at Fordham on behalf of Timberland with help from El Grito de Lares, our socio-cultural Latinx Club on campus,” Capone told me. 

In explaining how this opportunity fit his brand, Capone said, “As an athlete, I need to structure my weeks in a way that the limited time I have is efficiently allocated to each task I have. This opportunity is not different, I need to plan the week in how I am going to post and when I am going to post in order to have the most engagement. I also work in a team of some other incredible ambassadors from different colleges and backgrounds in order for us all to succeed which I find extremely rewarding.”