BIG EAST's Transition Game Impacts Blue Demons
Sept. 27, 2017
CHICAGO – When a New York Knicks female executive and a WNBA associate head coach said they didn’t have a career path lined up after college, it resonated with a pair of Blue Demons.
Both graduate student Rebekah Dahlman and senior Amarah Coleman are in the same predicament. Those two along with senior Lauren Prochaska participated in the BIG EAST’s second annual Transition Game event last weekend in New York.
More than 30 BIG EAST women’s basketball players convened for an interactive, experiential two days designed to assist with the transition from student-athlete to emerging professional.
Presentations came from Knicks Senior Vice-President of Business Operations Kristin Bennett, New York Liberty associate head coach Katie Smith along with ABC and ESPN analyst and sideline reporter Doris Burke, WNBA Sixth Women of the Year Sugar Rodgers of the Liberty, former WNBA executive Renee Brown and ex-Villanova player Emily Leer now playing professionally in Ireland.
“I don’t know that I’m going to do after college,” Dahlman said. “Playing professionally overseas is a possibility. Kristin Bennett also had no idea, and look at her now. I was able to talk to her one-on-one after her presentation and learned how she met some great people by keeping her all her options open.”
Coleman is also unsure of her future other than entertaining thoughts of playing overseas.
“The biggest thing I’ve taken away from Transition Game was to really put yourself out there after basketball because there is a life after basketball,” Coleman said. “Be able to step out of your comfort zone, talk to people and network.”
Although Prochaska has a career path in mind, she was reminded last weekend to keep her options open.
“Even though I’m not looking to pursue a career in basketball as I’m going into hospital patient information, I learned a lot last weekend,” Prochaska said. “I can apply a lot of that into my next step.
“Katie Smith told us to bloom where you’re planted and don’t be afraid to change paths. She didn’t know what she wanted to do after college and had no idea she wanted to coach. Now, she’s coaching with the New York Liberty.”
Burke was a little envious of Transition Game.
“As a kid, I would have loved the opportunity to meet professional women who had some sort of experience in the sports landscape,” she said. “Looking out at those faces and remembering what I felt like as a 21-year old trying to think about what’s next in my life, hopefully some of the information we shared will help them somewhere down the road.”
All the positive feedback from last year’s inaugural event led to last weekend.
“I hope the weekend inspired our student-athletes to start taking ownership and being engaged in their future,” said Tracy Ellis-Ward, BIG EAST Associate Commissioner for Women’s Basketball.
“This was a weekend for them to pause and reflect on what life might be like when their collegiate careers are over.”
Coleman made the most of meeting other BIG EAST players.
“It was a really beneficial being with the other players,” Coleman said. “You don’t normally see us talk on the court, so this was a great experience to interact with and get to know each other. That won’t be happening once we all get back on the court.”
The three Blue Demons had a chance to take in the best of New York, including a memorable visit to the Sept. 11 National Memorial and Museum.
“I’m somewhat of a history nerd, so the 911 museum was really special,” Prochaska said. “There were fire trucks, fire and police uniforms and various objects that were salvaged. There were photos, recordings of phone calls and videos, and it was like you were reliving that day.
“I was very moved by the recordings of the phone calls from people whose loved ones never came home.”
They came home raving about a culinary delight in a city famed for fabulous restaurants when the three of them ventured out to Times Square last Friday night to an Italian restaurant called Carmine’s.
“It was a great meal---the best shrimp I ever had,” Coleman said. “It was family-style servings with a lot of food. The atmosphere was fun, all lively and loud.”
How did they come across Carmine’s?
“I found it by googling restaurants in Times Square,” Prochaska said. “Our teammate Kelly Campbell lives in New Jersey about an hour’s drive away and really likes going to Carmine’s.”
Coleman is now a big fan.
“For anybody visiting New York, I would highly recommend going to Carmine’s,” she said.
For someone like Dahlman who played three seasons at Vanderbilt, last weekend made a lasting impact.
“I wish the SEC had something like this,” Dahlman said. “It’s such a great experience, and I learned a lot from it.
“This says a lot about the BIG EAST. It shows how much they care about each and every student-athlete. The conference is helping us be prepared for the real world.”
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