Eastside Golf Signs High School Golfer Kihei Akina to NIL Roster

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Eastside Golf has added another young golfer to its growing roster of NIL athletes.

The golf apparel company on Tuesday announced that it signed high school senior Kihei Akina to its Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) athlete roster. Akina is a native of Kahuku, Hawaii and is a rising senior at Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah with plans to attend Brigham Young University.

“Kihei is not just one of our country’s best young golfers, but also a standout athlete who represents the bright future of our sport both on and off the course,” said Eastside Golf co-founder and chief executive officer Earl Cooper in a statement. “He’s an incredible player from an amazing family with major ambitions who puts in immense effort to be the best version of himself and someone kids look up to. Eastside Golf is honored to have him on our team.”

Eastside Golf co-founder and creative director Olajuwon Ajanaku added in a statement that the partnership will give Akina the “access, mentorship, opportunities and financial support he deserves as he strives to be the best golfer he can be.”

Akina ranked No. 1 in the 2025 class by Golfweek and was named the National Boys High School Golfer of the Year by USA Today in 2023. This year, he placed first at the Nike Junior Invitational, set a course and tournament record at the Terra Cotta Invitational at Naples Golf Club and made it to the final qualifying round for the U.S. Open.

“As someone who has worn their gear for years, it’s exciting to now represent Eastside Golf on the course, ” said Akina in a statement. “I admire how Eastside Golf is all about bringing the community and culture together as one. Their values and how they want to bring opportunities to those who previously may not have had them closely align with my goals. I want to be a model to younger people and grow the game of golf, and I’m pumped to be able to do so alongside Earl, Olajuwon and their entire team. Plus, their gear is fire, both on and off the course.”

He joins Eastside Golf’s growing roster of NIL athletes, which includes Temple University freshman Matthew Vital.

Eastside Golf, a frequent collaboration partner of Jordan Brand, was founded in 2019 by former Morehouse College golf teammates Olajuwon Ajanaku and Earl Cooper. In January, the lifestyle golf brand announced it had closed a $3.4 million seed round led by EP Golf Ventures.

Though the brand is young, Eastside Golf has quickly become a force in footwear and fashion in the past two years. It has been worn by people of note in the worlds of sports, music and more, including President Barack Obama, music mogul DJ Khaled and NBA star Jayson Tatum, among others. The brand has also entered into several partnerships and licensing deals that have bolstered its profile, including the NBA, MLB and Mercedes Benz.

On the footwear side, Eastside Golf delivered several footwear collaborations in 2022 and 2023 with Jordan Brand. The looks, which didn’t last long at retail upon release, included sneakers for both the casual sneaker fan as well as golf enthusiasts. While major players like Adidas, FootJoy and Callaway still dominate the golf footwear market, the industry has seen a steady influx of new brands entering the space in recent years.

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