All the Big East conference schools sent a selection of women’s basketball student-athletes to New York last weekend to participate in the second annual Transition Game Program. Twenty-three juniors, eight seniors and two fifth-year seniors took part in the interactive program designed to assist them in the transition to life after college.
“I love this conference,” said Villanova junior guard Adrianna Hahn. “It’s crazy competitive on and off the court, and I think that’s great. It’s not just basketball they care about. They care about how we develop away from college and after college. They really care about our well-being.”
Big East Associate Commissioner for Women’s Basketball Tracy Ellis-Ward said the conference had the support of campus administrators and Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman in developing this program for upper classwomen. Conversations around post-college life—from the WNBA to professional basketball overseas to careers in sports to post-basketball life—kept the young women engaged.
“Helping them dig deeper,” said Ellis-Ward. “They’ve learned about their strengths. Taken an assessment and had a session on that. They’ve practiced their elevator speeches [if you meet an important person in an elevator]. They went through mock interviews. Lots of tangible experiences.”
There were discussions on how to land an important internship or an entry-level job. Industry experts, such as Liberty player Sugar Rodgers, Liberty Assistant Coach Katie Smith, renowned broadcaster Doris Burke and former WNBA executive Renee Brown spoke on panels and shared details about their journeys.
“The biggest thing I take away from Transition Game is to really put yourself out there after basketball,” said DePaul senior guard Amarah Coleman. “Step out of your comfort zone, talk to people, network.”
It isn’t easy for student-athletes to make time for internships or to fully utilize their institution’s career services office, but Ellis-Ward said Transition Game tried to inform them of opportunities they can make even though their schedules are full. An example would be taking on a special project with a professor during winter break when women’s basketball players are typically on campus for practice and games, but not busy with classes. Use down time after the season to build resumes or meet with an alumni mentor.
“Sometimes you’re going to sacrifice,” said Rodgers. “One thing I hope the student-athletes take away from this is just to take advantage of the opportunities.”