Shimkat Motor Company of Fort Dodge wasn’t necessarily looking to join the Name, Image, Likeness market, and Drake Ayala hadn’t been actively pursuing an NIL deal as a busy student-athlete at the University of Iowa.
When the two sides realized how much they had in common, though, a friendship developed and a partnership was formed.
Ayala officially entered an agreement to represent Shimkat Motors as a “brand ambassador” this week, as the Hawkeyes’ redshirt sophomore wrestler made an announcement via social media with Shimkat general manager T.J. Pingel.
This isn’t about money, marketing or strategic advantage alone. The connection between Shimkat and Ayala is much more basic and even organic: a local company identified a college standout as someone worth doing business with and supporting well into the future.
“Drake is someone who represents everything good about Fort Dodge,” Pingel said. “We know he is well-respected and held in high regard when it comes to his reputation not just as a wrestler, but as a student and future leader.
“He has a bright immediate future in wrestling, of course, but Drake’s just getting started and will be a difference-maker beyond the (world of sports) someday. We agreed that because of his character, work ethic and passion for Fort Dodge, he stands for the same things we pride ourselves on in our community.”
Ayala was a three-time state high school champion for the Dodgers, and one of the most coveted recruits to ever come from the FDSH mat program. He posted a 17-8 record as a true freshman at Iowa in 2021-22, then went 13-1 last season competing unattached at tournaments while redshirting at 125 pounds.
“I just saw a lot of parallels in the way Shimkat operates locally and how they feel about my hometown,” Ayala said. “That means a lot to me. I love Fort Dodge and still care a great deal about it, even if I’m not there on a regular basis right now.
“Shimkat is a very trusted, loyal company that’s been around for over 75 years. They see themselves as a family first, and I respect that.”
Ayala will make occasional appearances as a representative of the Shimkat team, and could potentially host clinics or be a part of other company festivities in the future.
“We know that, with him being in Iowa City full-time, we have to establish a flexible schedule,” Pingel said. “We respect that and will make it work. I think the main point is that we’re in this for the right reasons and so is he. This isn’t something that is just a (peripheral partnership) where we are using him or he’s using us for the wrong reasons.
“We’re a mom and pop shop that is invested in Fort Dodge. Our track record of (nearly eight decades in the community) speaks for itself when it comes to that. We see this as another kind of investment. We can always do more to attract young people and young families here — especially for people who already know our community and what we’re all about. We care. And we know Drake cares.”
Ayala confirms that time and distance has given him even more appreciation for his Dodger roots.
“You kind of grow up in a bubble, so to speak, and you start to gain a different perspective when you’re away,” Ayala said. “The real world has a lot of opinions and even stereotypes about where you’re from.
“I’ve never been more proud to say I’m from Fort Dodge than I am today. I’m very grateful for my family, my upbringing and what the community has done for me. I embrace it all…it’s an honor, and I love the idea of representing my home town in this way.”
The NCAA confirmed on June 30, 2021 that student-athletes were able to receive financial compensation for appearances, recognition or status, consistent with laws in the respective states of the schools. College stars across the country began signing endorsement deals the following day.
Shimkat Motor Company opened in Fort Dodge on June 1, 1947. Ed and Bill Shimkat — brothers and third-generation co-owners — currently head the operation.
The dealership is located at 3126 Fifth Ave. S. in Fort Dodge.