Following a successful first year, the Big East hosted its second annual Women’s Basketball Transition Game program in New York City from Sept. 23 to 24.
In addition to student-athletes on the women’s basketball teams from other Big East schools, Seton Hall’s Nicole Jimenez, Inja Butina and Donnaizha Fountain attended the program to engage in a variety of events, panel and interactive sessions.
While the Big East Freshman Fundamentals program focuses on the transition from high school to college, the primary focus of this event is to prepare collegiate women’s basketball players for the jump from college to the real world by helping them develop professional skills and learn about potential career paths.
The program also promotes the presence and success of women in the sports world, whether it be on the court or behind the scenes, and the impact of the speakers and event was clearly strong.
“The way that they carried themselves, it’s like they had a chip on their shoulder and I guess that spoke to me a lot because I’m not a confident person,” Jimenez, a junior transfer, said of the female speakers the event. “So I took that away from them, how important it is to be confident.”
In the company of these speakers was New York Liberty associate head coach Katie Smith, whose words had a strong impact on graduate transfer Fountain.
“One thing that Katie Smith said was ‘Bloom where you’re planted,’” Fountain said. “Sometimes the wind may blow you in the opposite direction where you planned on going, but it’s about making the best of your situation. It may not be the perfect school, it may not be the perfect situation, but you make that situation a perfect situation for you and your future.”
In addition to the speakers, representatives from some of the Big East schools conducted a StrengthsQuest exercise, which helped reveal to the athletes some of their strengths they may not have known about.
For Jimenez, her exercise helped her learn more about herself and better prepare her for interviews in the future.
“I found out what my strengths were. Basically, they gave you your top five strengths and that’s what you can use for an interview,” Jimenez said. “I learned something about myself I didn’t even know about and now I know what I can take into an interview.”
While the focus of the event was developing professional skills, the players were in a unique situation, as they were surrounded by Big East rivals.
“I think it was nice because I got to know them off the court,” transfer Butina said of being around other Big East student-athletes. “It’s different when you meet someone on the court because you have a different perspective on someone – it can be wrong. But off the court it’s so different. It was nice to listen to their stories as well.”
The weekend’s events included a trip to visit the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, which gave some perspective to the group.
“I’m not American but everyone knows about that and it was just impressive,” Butina said of visiting the memorial and museum. “It was kind of hard to stand there where everything had happened – even for me.”
The event encompassed a variety events and perspectives, and while its impact may not be felt right away, the players seem to feel better prepared for life after basketball.
“I can’t see myself working right after college, but still, at some point in my life I will have to work. I do feel comfortable, but it’s never going to be easy,” Butina said. “I definitely know more about it than before. It definitely helped.”
Butina was not alone in feeling better prepared, as Jimenez had a strong takeaway from the event as well.
“It helped me. Going in I didn’t even know what to expect,” Jimenez said. “Leaving from there I can say I’m more confident because of having that and knowing what I can go into an interview with. It’s still scary to think about when you leave college, but I feel more prepared.”
Despite fitting so much into just two days of events, the Seton Hall players in attendance seemed to benefit greatly from the Transition Game Program’s events.
Kyle Kasharian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.