NEW YORK, N.Y. -
The inaugural BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Transition Game program concluded on Sunday in Midtown Manhattan. Student-athletes from across the conference’s 10 member schools enjoyed an interactive educational and professional development weekend, which included Q&A sessions with such industry leaders as Doris Burke (Providence '87), the New York Liberty’s Katie Smith and Teresa Weatherspoon, and etiquette and branding specialist DeNita Turner.
“Our inaugural Transition Game program provided inspiring speakers, useful information and great energy,” said BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman. “We hope our student-athletes will draw on the tips, tools and messages our experts offered as they begin to plan for life in the real world.”
On Saturday, in addition to Burke, Weatherspoon, and Turner, student-athletes also enjoyed hearing from Ackerman, WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations & Player Relations Renee Brown, BIG EAST Senior Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball Stu Jackson, former DePaul standout and current YES Network analyst Sarah Kustok and New York Liberty reporter and former Marist player Julianne Viani. The group then traveled downtown to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum before enjoying a family-style dinner at an iconic New York City restaurant.
Sunday kicked off with players discussing current NCAA hot topics, such as time demands and student-athlete welfare, over breakfast before having interactive table-by-table conversations with Smith, Executive Vice President of Global Marketing Partnerships for the NBA Emilio Collins, and notable women’s basketball officials Rachelle Jones and Tiara Cruse. The weekend concluded with mock interviews, facilitated by veterans from across the collegiate and professional landscape.
Guest Speaker Experiences, Quotes Doris Burke, Providence College Alum, ESPN/ABC Analyst “I hope that these women understand the message that everyone seemed to send that regardless of what your field of endeavor is, hard work is going to get you there.
“The unique thing about the time that we’re in now is the way people conceive of what a women’s job in sport is, is different, it’s changing. We’re seeing women now in what we would consider ‘non-traditional roles’ … I think we need young women to aspire to positions outside of the sideline. If you want to be a sideline reporter, that’s outstanding and it’s a great way to impact a broadcast, but you can be a play-by-play person, the doors are now opening, if you want to be the general manager of an NBA team, you can now find a pathway to that. You look at athletes like Becky Hammond who are changing how women are perceived at the NBA level and their ability to coach basketball at the highest level. The sky is the limit. Slowly but surely we’re making progress and changing the way people think about women and what their roles are.”
Full Doris Burke interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96Eu7xt0MVQ
Teresa Weatherspoon, New York Liberty (Speaking to the student-athletes on learning what it takes to get to the next level) “I searched greatness, I searched excellence. I wanted to understand greatness. I wanted to understand excellence because that’s what I wanted for myself because of my commitment to the process. When I looked up greatness and everything that I searched said there’s a price you have to pay. Are you willing to pay the price? And whatever it is that you guys desire to do, doesn’t have to be basketball, whatever it is, because we’re all unique and wonderful in our own way, there better be a commitment to the process, but know there’s a price to pay.”
Kathleen Meehan, St. John’s, Interim Athletics Director “What a great, great event this has been. Hopefully they’re taking good notes and I see them taking lots of notes, but hopefully they’re getting inspired. We’ve had some wonderful role models in to speak to them and hopefully they listen and take it in and they act on those things and the advice they’ve been given.
“I think they’re star-struck by some of them, I mean Teresa Weatherspoon, all of them were sitting on the edge of their seats listening to her and her passion for the game. To then listen to Renee Brown and Val Ackerman and DeNita Turner, who talked to them about branding and branding themselves, it’s an awesome way, to have all these women leaders talk about their experiences and how they got here, I’m so happy for these young ladies.”
Student-Athlete Experiences, Quotes DePaul senior Jessica January. “It’s been a really good program, I’ve enjoyed every discussion we’ve had and just having the opportunity to speak with all these people who have gone through the same experiences that we have [as student-athletes], it’s been great. To have representation in the work field after college basketball is really necessary for all of us as athletes. Being able to take advice from all of these different people will be really helpful and hopefully I’ll be able to translate their advice into my own career after basketball.”
Georgetown junior Dorothy Adomako “Everything has been so amazing but my favorite part was going to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, it was so emotional and being with the BIG EAST group and be able to reflect on that together was really special.
“It’s been different to interact with everyone off the court, especially at dinner – we were able to bond more and it actually felt like we were back in our AAU days.”
When asked who her favorite speaker was on the weekend, Adomako responded, “Teresa Weatherspoon. She was so powerful. It drew my attention to how much she loved the game, and it’s driven me to go back and work hard.”
Villanova Junior Alex Louin “It was very helpful – a lot of us don’t have extra time as student-athletes to do things in terms of professional development so we can be behind our non-athlete counterparts in that. At this event I think we learned some valuable tools, steps and initiatives towards professional development, as well as made some great contacts that will benefit us in the future.”
St. John’s Senior Aaliyah Lewis “I loved the two-day event, I’m glad I met some of the players from around the league because when we normally see each other it’s a competitive mindset, but they’re all pretty cool.
“I loved hearing from Teresa Weatherspoon – her passion for the game – and DeNita Turner – I learned a lot from her – the main thing is to express yourself.
“I’m still not sure what I want to do after I’m finished with college basketball but I learned to express myself and step out of my comfort zone.”
Sarah Beal Senior Providence “It was a great experience, seeing some of the women who have achieved such success in their respective fields and giving us advice on their journeys. To speak with [Providence graduate] Doris Burke, she gave us a lot of great advice on different things that she’s been through – especially to keep pushing, you’ll have a lot of obstacles, you just have to overcome and stick with it if it’s something you love.”
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