Superstar in the making

By Dylan Lux

A female student-athlete at Youngstown State University signed a name, image and likeness deal with World Wrestling Entertainment.

Mady Aulbach, a senior guard for the women’s basketball team, was contacted by WWE’s Next in Line program, which the company launched to expand its search for potential superstars. These NIL athletes gain access to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, where they go to train for their roles as Superstars. 

Aulbach explained how the Next in Line program reached out to her via social media. 

“They [direct messaged] me and just asked if they could set something up to talk with me over Zoom. So, we had a Zoom meeting, and I talked to one of their heads of talent,” Aulbach said. 

Initially, Aulbach said she was under the impression she was being recruited to the business side of the WWE. She quickly discovered this was not their intent.

“When I said how excited I was about the opportunity [they said] ‘I’m so glad, because not everyone is excited to wrestle!’ I [said] ‘Oh, you want me to wrestle?’ So that was exciting,” Aulbach said. 

After multiple meetings with WWE representatives in summer and fall of 2022, Aulbach said she received good news.

“[The WWE representatives] told me that I was selected to be a part of their NIL class three,” Aulbach said. “In December, I went and did a photoshoot with them at one of their events in Pittsburgh. [It] was really cool, I got to sit front row and see the actual event, which I’ve never been to before.”

In January, the Next in Line program announced that Aulbach was officially a part of the next class of up-and-coming superstars, and she was able to make it public on her social media accounts. 

The senior guard explained her responsibilities as a student-athlete for WWE.

“In college it’s very relaxed. Of course it’s the WWE, so they don’t need me to advertise for them … they post me. I maybe get to go to some events [and] just learn what the WWE is all about,” Aulbach said.

If Aulbach decides to pursue her career with WWE, she’ll travel to Orlando, Florida to the performance center and train for her upcoming career as a potential WWE superstar.

Head coach John Barnes of the women’s basketball team stated he is excited to see one of his athletes have an opportunity like this.

“She is a huge part of our success over the years and bringing a basketball championship back to YSU. I will follow her career and go watch her wrestle if she ends up under the big lights,” Barnes stated. “I think I’ll be worried the whole time about her getting hurt but it would be pretty awesome to see one of our own in the national spotlight.” 

Aulbach said working with WWE isn’t an opportunity she would pass up on.

“I should not take it for granted, because obviously not everyone gets approached by the WWE. I think in that respect I should take advantage of it, and do what I can with it after college,” Aulbach said. 

As for potential names for the future WWE wrestler, Aulbach said she’s fond of a particular color.

“Definitely pink, I would say. Pink is my favorite color,” Aulbach said. “A few people have suggested [names] like Mad Dog, or Pink Dream … I’ve definitely thought about it, because that’s one of the fun parts.”