From the title alone, I’m sure I’m being judged. Either your reading this trying to figure out why I’m such an idiot to turn down money. Some of you may be the same persons who have been running your mouths and kicking my back in, making accusations as to why I didn’t take these jobs. And others may have a genuine interest as to how could I turn down 2.5 jobs. So for the first time ever on a public platform I will share my reasons.
Last year, my high school basketball coach the legendary Vanessa Watson stepped down as head girls coach of Malcolm X Shabazz high school. Being a former Shabazz All-State and County athlete (Basketball and Volleyball) I’ve been blessed to be able to be a part of the Shabazz family. So when Coach dropped the news, I already knew. Coach had been saying for years she was ready to step down, but each year she thought she was going to, God kept her in place. Coach had more lives she had to read, she had a few more extraordinary female athletes she had to mode, and a few more milestone wins and championships she had to rack up before stepping down. However, time finally came last year. Coach announced that she was handed over her title of Shabazz head girls basketball coach to her former player (my Lil Bulldog Sis) and University of Pittsburg’s standout Point Guard Jania Sims. I was happy for Jay! Coach and I’s originally conversation, was she wanted me to be Jania’s assistant coach, I was cool with this. Jay had been coaching under Coach Watson for the past few years, so she already knew the ends and out of the system Coach put in place. Besides, I understood that Jay would be filling huge shoes, and she needed all the love, support, and backup she could get in an assistant coach. I had no problem being Jay’s assistant coach, however approaching the basketball season I learned through a friend of mine (not Coach nor Jay) that they decided to hire another one of my Lil Bulldog Sisters Iasia Hemingway. (Side bar: For those who don’t know, Iasia Hemingway is another Shabazz standout who also cracked heads in the Big East at Syracuse University. Real talk, the Big East should definitely cut Coach Watson a reimbursement check for every ALL-AMERICAN beast she produced from Shabazz who went on to dominate in the Big East…. only if this were legal).
I digress back to story, so again I heard this news from a friend of mine, not Coach Watson or Jay, and to be completely honest, I was hurt. Let me be clear, I was hurt because the lack of communication and the way I found out. I have, never was, nor will I ever be jealous of my little sisters. Let me say that again, when it comes to my little sisters that followed behind me at Shabazz, I HAVE AND WILL NEVER BE JEALOUS OF THEM. I am a proud Big Sister and am filled with nothing but joy for all my little sister’s success. I can, however admit that I was hurt in the break down of communication. Prior to being offered the freshmen job at Shabazz, for years I’d given away my services and knowledge away for free. I volunteered with different AAU teams throughout NJ/NY, I helped with different camps and clinics and even volunteered with Coach Watson here and there. During the Spring and Summer I would gather a group of athletes (collegiate, professional, and retired) in West Side and Weequahic park for conditioning three times a week. I was an assistant coach at Rutgers Newark for three years, before taking a head coaching job at Newark Vocational high school for a year. So when offered the freshman job at Shabazz, I had no interest. I had over 5 years into coaching and I had no interest in going backwards in my coaching career. Wait as I think about it, I was never “officially” offered any coaching job with Shabazz. Hence my .5 jobs Some called it being too prideful, I called it simply knowing my worth. Whatever you call it, at the time I simply had no interest in going backwards in my coaching career. Besides that, September 1, 2014 I was involved in a really bad car accident which left me without a vehicle for over 8 months, and sometimes unable to leave my bed, in excruciating pain, I was also in the process of trying to get custody of my niece. With all that on my plate, I know I would not have been able to give Jay the undivided support she need in her first year.
Hindsight is 20/20, I had a lot going on, God understood this, and still everything is working out according to His plan. This where the story gets juicy. I had a few mentors, friends, and older sister’s reach out to me asking me why I wasn’t coaching with Jay and Iasia. I gave them the same answer I am giving now. Somehow, I’m guessing some BS got back to Jay because for months I felt a strain on your relationship. I have a strong idea as to who this person was who possibly ran back giving false information, but I never addressed the BS and simply prayed to God. I can’t change other people’s pettiness, and I had so much other crap going on in my life at the time, I didn’t have the energy to do so. I can simply say I am glad my God works everything out, and my sisterhood between Jay and Iasisa is soild. I didn’t have a car last year so I couldn’t support my little sisters but better believe I’m going to be in the stands and at as many practices as possible supporting My Bulldog Family this year!!!!
This year, I was offered a head coaching job at Weequahic high school, and an assisting coaching job at University high school, both in Newark. Yes I turned both them down not saying this to be arrogant, nor to boast. I feel that my reasoning is God’s purpose for my life. While in attendance at Coach Watson’s retirement party this past weekend, I felt some shade from a few people. I really wish they understood but at this point, I honestly feel like the vision I have is God’s purpose on my life.
So many people don’t understand the plight of the 98% of College Athletes who don’t go pro. Although I was blessed to be a part of the 2% who did experience playing professionally overseas (Ireland, Spain and Greece), when I was forced to retire because of a broke finger and not having some place to peacefully lay my head a night, I was emotionally confronted with all the same issues.
This is why I choose to turn down 2.5 coaching jobs. I’ve been blessed to be a coach on every platform except professionally. I have no doubt in my mind that if I choose to at some point return to coaching, I would still be a pretty good coach. However, I feel like every trail and tribulation I’ve encountered trying to transition into life after retiring from the game, wasn’t for me to simply figure it out. But instead to reach back and help other female athletes have a smoother transition. The name of my company will be ANCHorD21.
As a kid I used to have a dream of being a famous author. I used to wright novels as a child, I never released any because it was just a hobby/dream. Some where down the line, I picked up a ball, and quickly realized I was a pretty good athlete. It is very easy for me to drift away from a dream/passion I had prior to becoming an athlete. I knew that if I worked hard, I could get a full ride to a college, and them become more rich and famous playing in the WNBA and for the Olympics. It was easier for me to put all my eggs into one basket and become an athlete, I understood the time, and effort I had to put in to make this dream come true. As far as writing, I had no idea how to make that dream come true.
For many of us, it’s easy to get completely wrapped up in trying to be the best in our field, over look and not prepare for the next chapter in life, after our career ends. It is my plan to team up with the Mayor of Newark, Fordham University’s Women’s Basketball program, and other organizations to help give female athletes options, opportunities, and internships with a career and company they may find hard to normally get into because of their CRAZY training time, lack of knowledge or connections in the career they want after sports. Under the same umbrella of ANCHorD21, I want to be able to offer support groups, and possible therapy for athletes. This will be a safe place for athletes to vent and gain emotional support and advise to over coming the “Post Jock Blues”.
For many athletes, we put all our time and energy into perfecting our craft to be the best. Many of us from the inner cities have been taught how to struggle through life, instead of maneuvering. For many of us, we are born into very dysfunctional situations so its easy for us to throw ourselves into a sport for the hopes and dreams of one day going pro and be coming rich and famous, and being able to buy our family a house. For some of us we simply chase the dream and don’t think about life after the game. For many former college athletes, the void of sports, and trying to adjust to life after sports can take a serious psychological toll. For some athletes, the emotional toll is realizing that you put all your eggs in one basket, and never thought to maintain a successful internship while in school. The reality that after the game stops and you realize that you have basically no work experience other than working a few camps here and there, can cause stress. For some athletes returning home to the cold side eyes from friends and family may be too much to handle.
For all these reason, I feel that ANCHorD21 is essential. These are my plans, I am not afraid to share them publicly to the world. In some ways, my blog is my public vision board. I am dreaming, planning and writing again. Some how my blog will land me a career at Essence, ESPNW, Monarch, The Player’s Tribune, show how this blog will open a lane for me for not only publish my work but to gain wealth. I will be the cycle breaker in my family. I understand that what is for me is for me, and God gave me a vision. It is my responsibility to make His vision come to life. I am not worried about someone stealing my ideas, if someone has some advise or wish to help me make this dream come to pass, I welcome it! But I am only depending on my God given gifts and my God. I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to become wealthy from ANCHorD21, however I know and understand the amount of time I am going to have to put in to make this vision come to pass, and I know God will make a way. He already has.