Three OSU alumni find success online, create NIL path for Beaver athletes


Courtesy of JP Bertram

Belligerent Beavs founders and members, Benny Wehage (left), Terry Horstman, and JP Bertram (right), pose for a photo outside of Providence Park in Portland, Oregon. on Sept. 17 where they traveled to see the Beavers beat Montana State by a score of 68-28. The three Bebe’s enjoy attending the games in person in order to get a true experience to talk over on their podcast.

Benjamin Rabbino, Sports Chief

Former women’s studies graduate, JP Bertram, would have never guessed his professional career would take the route that it did.

Yet, over 2,000 Twitter followers later and a platform that spreads love to every corner of the Beaver family, Bertram is content with his journey.

He wasn’t alone on his ride to a social media following, fellow class of 2012 graduates Terry Horstman, a former basketball beat reporter for the Daily Barometer, and Benny Wehage, an avid fan, were just as eager to be a team.

The Belligerent Beavs, both a creative and honest representation of a name, now has 77 podcasts uploaded on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Hosting a warm and inviting environment for all Beaver fans to listen to the conversation on recent Beaver topics, Horstman and Bertram remember what it was like to just start their podcast.

“It was early in the pandemic when Damir Collins committed to Oregon State, and one of us hit our group chats with other Oregon State alumnus. They were all excited, and the Jonathan Smith era had been going a little ahead of schedule, and this is coming off of five years of having to try to care for Oregon State football, and that’s where the first exchange was had between JP and I where it was like, let’s start a podcast,” Horstman said.

Throughout their tenure at Oregon State as students and now as alumni, the three Bebe’s, as they proclaim themselves, have attended almost every Beaver sporting event you can go to. Some of their favorite memories come from Reser Stadium, Gill Coliseum and Paul Lorenz Field watching Oregon State both occasionally win, while most of the time, watching the Beavers lose.

Still, the experience that the three of them had while attending Oregon State was enough for them to want to give back, even ten years after graduating, to create opportunities for the current generation of Beaver athletes to thrive in an ever-changing world of name, image and likeness, otherwise known as NIL. 

NIL allows college athletes to profit from themselves. The nationwide leader in NIL, Opendorse, is partnered with Oregon State, and in turn, all Beaver athletes have an Opendorse profile.

By visiting the Belligerent Beavs website, any OSU athlete can apply to be accepted as one of their athletes after consideration from their team just with their name, email, choice of sport, and selection of their current level of personal branding already done.

There is no upfront cost from the athletes to join the Belligerent Beavs team.

However, the question arises if student-athletes have to only go through the website application process, or if their level of talent and marketability is enough for the Belligerent Beavs to reach out.

“It’s a little bit of both, it kind of depends. Sometimes we will hear something through the grapevine that somebody might be interested and we will reach out and engage. Sometimes it might be like, ‘Hey, so and so wants to talk to you guys,’ and we will give them our number so they can shoot us a text,” Bertram said.

There are currently six Oregon State athletes that are signed as Belligerent Beav athletes. That list includes Sarah Haendiges from the women’s softball team, Damien Martinez from the football team, Mckenna Martinez from the women’s soccer team, Tanner Smith and Ryan Brown from the baseball team and a new addition of Madi Dagen from the gymnastics team.

“For the most part, we have been pretty lucky because the athletes that we’ve signed are the ones that we’ve wanted,” Bertram added.

The Belligerent Beavs team makes an initial announcement on each signed student-athlete, and from there, the athletes only have to remain compliant with their responsibilities and tasks assigned to them.

The compliance aspect goes as far as the athletes being responsible for promoting the Belligerent Beavs brand on their social media as well as fulfilling other small tasks.

Once the athletes are compliant, they are eligible to receive profits from their merchandise sold and from any offer that comes up through Opendorse or social media.

Acknowledging their presence amongst other NIL companies, the Belligerent Beavs team is set on not doing this for the money, but for the ability to do something for the athletes that other Alumni haven’t.

“Our athletes aren’t getting rich off this partnership either, but we’re doing small things to make sure that they feel more heard and seen. It’s ridiculous that this was against the rules two years ago,” Horstman said.

Bertram said that their athletes have designs of brand logos or a merchandise line that customers shop at and come to the Belligerent Beavs seeking production and distribution.

“I mean, Danny Martinez is a great example. Before he signed with us, he had already launched his merch line with NIL Pro Shop. He had a logo and he had no interest at that time to go beyond that. He felt like it was in a good place. We just said, well, let’s just start promoting it together, you know?” Bertram explained.

That communication happened in the Fall of 2021 before the football season, Martinez’s name is known around the nation now as he ran away with the award for PAC-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the year.

With the Belligerent Beavs already having a production and distribution facility that they used for their podcasting brand that started in the Fall of 2020 before engaging in NIL, they saw it as a step in the right direction for helping Oregon State athletes get their brands some attention. 

“I think we hit a perfect storm because we were already managing our merch store, which took off in its own way. We weren’t expecting to just all of a sudden be like a merch line. We threw some logo tees up when we first started just so we could promote our podcast,” Bertram said.

Having the facilities to produce Beaver athletes’ merchandise was a key part of intriguing athletes to come to pursue opportunities with them.

“From conceptualizing it to a real product in a week without any costs involved. I mean, that unlocks a lot of doors, especially for a student,” Bertram said.

Some companies that produce merchandise for student-athletes take advantage of them and act almost like their agents, Bertram wanted to be sure that their NIL organization wouldn’t feel anything like that.

“We just want to work with athletes who are creative and have ideas and want to take advantage of this new thing,” Horstman said.

“Our approach at NIL isn’t like exclusivity, right? We don’t want to step on our athletes’ partners’ toes. We want to make sure we are honest and that we can help promote them even further so that they can find even more opportunities,” Bertram added.

Going through the process of creating these opportunities for Beaver athletes without mentorship or guidance, Horstman wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Being Belligerent is part of our brand right? And I think that kind of goes along with just flying blindly sometimes and just doing what you think is right rather than trying to make it perfect,” Horstman said.

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