The jump from collegiate athlete to professional basketball player can be an intimidating task, but the Big East has found an answer to help aspiring student-athletes smooth this transition.
Beginning Sept. 17, the Big East Conference will host the inaugural Transition Game Program, a two-day interactive platform that seeks to support women’s basketball student-athletes on their journey to becoming professional athletes.
“The transition from college to the real world is exciting but daunting, and our newly created Transition Game Program will offer student-athletes from our women’s basketball programs additional tools to assist them in the journey,” Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said in a press release.
“We have lined up some of the most respected people in the women’s game to provide insights and information and to build on the tremendous experiences these young women gained while a part of the Big East,” Ackerman said.
Athletes from all 10 Big East schools, including Seton Hall’s own Lubirdia Gordon, Claire Lundberg and JaQuan Jackson, will be in attendance to join a wealth of qualified, talented former Big East players, media personalities and WNBA leaders from all angles of the game.
Beyond just panels, the program will take the attendees to dinner in New York and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
The panels on Saturday will feature Renee Brown, WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations & Player Relations, and Teresa Weatherspoon, a former WNBA standout and Olympic Gold Medal winner. Together, they will host a panel focusing on playing at the professional level.
Saturday continues with a personal branding workshop with President and CEO of Image Builders, Inc., Denita Turner, and a panel on handling themselves in front of the camera with FOX Sports talent Sarah Kustok and former Marist all-star Julianne Viani.
“Sarah and I are good friends. She’s a wonderful person,” Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella said of the former DePaul star. “She’s been very helpful talking to our players in the past.”
Of all the personalities in attendance, one of the biggest names is sideline reporter Doris Burke, who will join Kustok and Viana at their panel.
“Doris did our NCAA game last year,” Bozzella said. “She was such a professional and she was great with the players.”
NCAA and WNBA referee Tiara Cruse, current New York Liberty Associate Head Coach Katie Smith and Executive VP of Global Marketing Partnerships for the NBA, Emilio Collins, will host a Sunday workshop on careers in the basketball world.
Following this final workshop, the student-athletes will go through a series of mock interviews to round out their experience in the program.
The potential of the program goes beyond helping individuals, but unifying the conference in success both on the court and in sending players to the next level of their careers.
“That is a factor,” Bozzella said of players from each Big East team interacting and learning at the program. “Getting to know each other and understanding how we have to grow the game of basketball, especially in the Big East for women.”
With two Seton Hall graduates moving on to play in the WNBA just last year, the Transition Game Program is arriving at a perfect time for The Hall, and the entire Big East, as the level of play in the conference elevates and emerging players pursue professional aspirations.
Bozzella has one big takeaway he wants his players to gain from the program.
“I’d like them to have confidence about our program and confidence among themselves. They’re with some of the best players in the Big East and there’s a reason they’re there: Because I feel these young ladies can be as well.”
Kyle Kasharian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.