BYU freshman guard Trey Stewart didn’t see much time on the court this season, but he’s making an impact in both visible, and subtle, ways.

Stewart started a business called Default Happiness, which prints positive messages that have been placed on shoes, T-shirts and sweatshirts worn by his Cougars teammates, as well as other BYU athletes.

His mission is to promote “happiness and hope,” he said.

As part of Default Happiness, Stewart has started what is considered to be the first-ever athlete-owned name, image and likeness enterprise. 

In February, he announced he had signed two BYU athletes, Alex Barcello and Jaren Hall, to deals with Default Happiness. 

“I wanted to work with athletes at our school to promote things that are important to them,” Stewart said. “It’s the first-ever athlete-owned company signing other athletes. With Jaren, we’re going to do an anti-bullying campaign because that means a lot to him. With Alex, we’re still deciding. Pretty excited about it.”

Among the mantras printed on shoes that Stewart has created include “Be Relentless,” “Turn Frustration into Fight” and “BLRA” (Best Locker Room in America).

He’s produced customized shoes for BYU women’s basketball star Shaylee Gonzales and quarterback Jacob Conover as well as the BYU women’s soccer team, among others. 

Stewart’s custom clothing and shoes can be found at defaulthappiness.com

For Stewart, this endeavor is personal and years in the making. 

As a youngster, he dealt with mental health challenges that taught him about the struggles many go through. 

“My goal with this is to change the stigma around mental health in sports to where it can be comfortable for players to talk about. When I was a kid I struggled and I still do.” — Trey Stewart

“My goal with this is to change the stigma around mental health in sports to where it can be comfortable for players to talk about. When I was a kid I struggled and I still do,” Stewart wrote in an Instagram post. “There are a lot of ups and downs in sports and I have found that trigger words help me out a lot. I put these words or phrases on my shoes to refocus my mind and be more determined. Now I want to help others do the same.”

On his website, Stewart explains that “the fight for happiness is something that we are all doing every day. There are a lot of ups and downs in life that shift our moods; this is where Default Happiness comes into play.”

According to Stewart, there are three steps to “creating your happiness as a default.” Those are: “Be aware of things to be happy about”; “Help the good feelings stay”; and “Be the creator of personal happiness.”

Not only does Stewart, who is majoring in psychology, sell custom clothing and custom shoes, but he’s also planning on holding multiple events this summer, including a basketball camp that will help kids with their skills on the court as well as their mental health. 

Coach Mark Pope said Stewart started discussing the creation of Default Happiness last summer.

“I love it. He’s talked publicly about some of his mental health challenges. Regardless of that, it’s a great way to live life. Very few of us reach that space,” he said. “It’s been really fun to watch him, step by step, grow his business. He’s actually contracted most of the work out now. It’s super exciting. He’s built a website, he’s got a marketing team, he’s got a manufacturer. He’s signing his first athletes to NIL deals, which is super cool.”

Pope said that what Stewart is doing with his business is a new level of education, now that the NCAA allows athletes to monetize their name, image and likeness.  

BYU coach Mark Pope enjoys a moment on the sidelines with Trey Stewart during NIT victory over Long Beach State in Provo.
BYU head coach Mark Pope and guard Trey Stewart (1) have some fun on the sidelines during an NIT game against Long Beach State at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“It’s fun that Trey has been bold enough to jump onto the ownership side of the NIL agreement. The fact that it’s all wrapped up in a great idea and a really important cause and is service-oriented, trying to lift people up, that’s a really great package. I think we’ll see more of this from athletes,” he said. “I hope we’ll see more of it from our athletes. This can be an integral part of your college experience. Our guys have grown so much through this NIL process.

“Their education has been augmented in this incredible way about the things that they’re considering, having to do with contracts and market share and term length and exclusivity. All these concepts have become real to them. Let’s hope business ownership becomes a part of that. That’s the right side of things to be on. It’s exciting for our guys.”

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Back in December, when BYU played Creighton in South Dakota, an event designated as a Coaches vs. Cancer game, Stewart designed shoes for Pope to wear on the sidelines and then Stewart auctioned the shoes to raise money for fighting cancer. 

“There’s a ton of space for that. It’s awesome to see this coming from young people. This is what college should be, right? I’m really proud of him and excited about the ground that he’s breaking right now,” Pope said of Stewart. “I don’t know how you want more out of your college experience — getting an unbelievable degree, playing at an elite basketball institution and running his own business and signing athletes to deals. It’s pretty cool.”

BYU guard Te’Jon Lucas said he and his teammates have been supportive of Stewart’s business. 

“You’ll see guys rocking T-shirts and sweatshirts from Trey’s company,” he said. “I hope everybody else gets a chance to dive into it and support him. He’s doing great. He’s doing a lot of things with shoes and Coaches vs. Cancer. It’s been great.” 

After starring at American Fork High, Stewart served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Leeds, England, and Kennewick, Washington. 

In his first season at BYU, Stewart has played in 10 games for a total of 26 minutes. 

But the 6-foot-2 freshman is expected to take on a bigger role next season after the departure of seniors Barcello and Lucas. 

This year, he’s been a key member of BYU’s scout team, which helps the main contributors prepare to play upcoming opponents.

“It’s so incredibly valuable for our team to win. Trey is an elite athlete. He’s got a chance to become a world-class defender. He makes us better,” Pope said. “I promise you, and it’s the truth, if our guys on the scout team are not working the way they are, we’re not where we are right now as a basketball team. They win games for us because they come challenge us every day and help us get better.”

Lucas has faced Stewart every day in practices. 

BYU guard Trey Stewart (1) looks for the ball in Provo on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“He’s a great guy. I love being around Trey. What he does very well is challenge you defensively. He has a long wingspan and he can pressure you up the floor. He’s a great player overall,” he said. “He’s a great teammate, somebody that, in the coming year, you don’t want guarding you with the ball. He frustrates me and Alex a lot in practice. But that’s what prepares us for the games. When he kills us in practice, it helps us out during the games.”

While Stewart hasn’t played much this season, he said he’s been pleased with his development. 

“It’s been good. My main thing is, I just lack experience. I go in the game and I hadn’t played since before my mission,” he said. “I don’t feel quite comfortable yet. Luckily, I’ve got to get reps in practice and just keep doing what I’m doing. I know eventually all that work will pay off.

“The coaches always say, ‘The most valuable thing is game-time experience.’ Practice is valuable and so are all the trainings you do,” Stewart added. “But at the end of the day, nothing can replicate a game as much as actually getting into a game. I’m trying to get as much in as I can.”

Stewart’s dad, Ray, is an assistant coach for the BYU women’s basketball team. They pass each other in the BYU Annex and the Marriott Center. 

“We always say, ‘We like to keep our kingdoms separate.’ I see him (between practices) and we holler at each other,” Trey said. “He texts me after the games and checks up on me.”

Stewart is waiting for his opportunity to make an impact on the court at BYU. But in the meantime, he’s making an impact in both visible and subtle ways that promote hope and happiness.