Women's Basketball To Benefit From "Hoops 2 Heels" Program

June 30, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Last year, Kansas Director of Women’s Basketball Operations Trena Anderson noticed there was a clear connection between competitive female athletes and successful women in the workplace. She also noticed that players were having trouble with transitioning from being a college athlete to succeeding in a professional setting. Although the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) offers a program called Life Skills for student athletes, the women’s basketball team could not always attend the meetings due to tutoring sessions. Anderson wanted to start a program for her players that focused on career women in the area to share their expertise with the team.

“With Life Skills, someone might not want to raise their hand in a room full of 100 student-athletes,” said Anderson, now in her sixth year at KU. “With `Hoops 2 Heels,’ they have a chance to interact one-on-one with successful professionals.”

“Hoops 2 Heels” was created after much brainstorming and planning by Anderson and the rest of the women’s basketball coaching staff. To begin, 20 women were targeted in Lawrence and Kansas City in careers ranging from communications to cosmetology. Included in the group of 20 women are health specialists, entrepreneurs and financial advisors who have not necessarily participated in athletics, but appreciate the game of basketball and show interest in health and fitness.

Kristen Toner, a former student-athlete at Notre Dame, currently works as an associate attorney at Lathrop & Gage LLP. Toner is one of the 20 women participating in “Hoops 2 Heels” for 2009-2010.

“When you graduate from college no one cares anymore that you were a student-athlete,” said Toner, who spent her college years as a swimmer. “It is hard for athletes to attend job fairs or do internships during the summer because of the practice and training involved in competing at a high level.”

All 20 women have found success using various forms of a model “Hoops to Heels” will seek to implement called PIE: Performance, Image and Exposure. They will meet approximately once a month and each session will be based on a different area of interest.

One of the focus areas will be health and fitness. To highlight career paths in this field, the professional women intend on doing fitness classes with the team, discussing women’s health issues, teaching golf etiquette or sharing recipes targeted to college students living in a dorm.

Another area of focus is personal development. Professionals will teach dinner etiquette, discuss fashion in the workplace, give financial advice or play a role in the community by doing volunteer activities.

In a professional development focus, “Hoops 2 Heels” will provide the team with mock interviews, job shadowing, networking and mentoring.

“`Hoops 2 Heels’ will make the tough transition easier,” said Toner. “The broad range of expertise these women bring will be good for the girls to learn and will help them focus on thinking about getting a career before graduation.”

Senior forward Porscha Weddington agrees that “Hoops 2 Heels” will provide a great opportunity for her and her team.

“I’m excited to get started,” said Weddington who is majoring in communication studies. “I think it will really help us learn and get us thinking about what our futures will look like when our playing careers are over.”

Although Anderson has not decided what the first event will be, she does know that “Hoops 2 Heels” will begin in July since the players are in Lawrence for summer workouts.

“All of the events we have will be social, interactive and fun,” said Anderson. “It will be great for these girls to be able to see what’s out there and focus on life after basketball.”