Black Joy

‘SportsBae’ launches an NBA for HBCUs | Black Joy – August 26, 2022

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Black women are magical ✨

That’s it. That’s the intro for this week :)

Black girl joy is overflowing from our historically Black colleges and universities. Forward this newsletter to your friends and fam so we can enjoy the abundance together.

– Starr

Team SportsBae FTW!

Whether you’re into basketball or not, Kimberly Meadows-Clark is someone you should keep your eyes on.

You won’t see her dribbling up and down the court or gracefully dunking on opponents. As a sports entrepreneur known by friends and fam as “SportsBae,” Kimberly’s skills are more business in nature – and historical. Just five years ago, Kimberly became the first Black woman in Alabama to own a professional basketball team after purchasing the Magic City Surge in Birmingham. Sis’ latest venture will attract more attention to historically Black colleges and universities nationwide.

Kimberly is the co-founder and president of the HBCU Basketball Association, a new professional league being advertised as the “NBA for HBCU athletes” who are being overlooked in the highest level of the sport. Only one of the 450 NBA players is an HBCU alum – and he was drafted a decade ago. The lack of HBCU players is an issue that has been pointed out to the NBA over and over again. Kimberly and her business partner, Kevin Williams Sr., believe they’ve created the solution.

As for the reason why the problem exists in the first place, Kimberly kept it straight with me: “We’re not their market. We’re not what they’re going for immediately. They’re not going to (Alabama) A&M before they go to Duke,” Kimberly said. “So we’re gonna create the space. We’re creating the menu. We’re cooking the food. We’re setting the table and you just come down, sit down and eat with us.”

The HBCUBA league’s inaugural season starts Spring 2023 with six teams in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Georgia. This league will solely showcase the talent of HBCU alumni and future fans don’t have to wait long to see their skills. The draft takes place in February and the season will kickoff in Alabama in April. Kimberly said 36 players have already committed to the draft.

You can read more on our website about how an act of community service to help a homeless teen prompted Kimberly to carve a path in sports that not only benefits her community, but also leads to a brighter future for her daughters and other women in sports.

“There’s not too many women doing what I do as far as leadership,” she said. “I’m not waiting on a higher up to put me in a position. I’m creating those positions in those spaces for myself, those people around me and other women. Yes, it’s more stressful. It’s definitely terrifying, but I am a woman of faith and that keeps me grounded.”

Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you

Now, I’m not expecting y’all to be so inspired by Kimberly’s story that you’re going out and buying your own sports team.

But we all have dreams and sometimes we get in our own way. Kimberly admitted to wrestling with imposter syndrome when she first bought the Magic City Surge. She questioned the opportunities she was getting due to her past and the many stereotypes people pinned on her after she gave birth to her oldest daughter at the age of 16.

“Who would have thought that a teen mom with a GED would be doing this today?” She said. “I couldn’t understand why I would be here. Did I deserve it? I used to be scared to tell people my story, but then I started realizing my purpose and I was in the spaces I needed to be in. Regardless of whatever you’ve been through and where you come from, you have a purpose and you just have to be a go-getter. You have to be determined and you have to find your space.”

Here’s how Kimberly challenged those pesky, self sabotaging thoughts:

  • “First you have to recognize that you are dealing with imposter syndrome. I personally didn’t know for a long time, but when I did, it explained a lot.”
  • “Identifying your triggers is important because certain situations may cause you to withdraw, automatically feel defeated and cause you to feel as if you do not deserve all the great opportunities and successes that are happening to you.”
  • Write down your opportunities and successes, then celebrate them. This allows you to see the spaces you have been placed in and the positive effects you have in them.”
  • “Next is transparency. You can’t have success without failure. Share the lessons learned in your journey to your success. Mistakes you have identified not only help others but yourself as well. It shows you have come a long way.”
  • “Last but not least, there is no such thing as perfect, so show yourself some compassion. Self-love and awareness will take you a long way.”

Queens of the gym floor

Black girl magic took over the U.S Gymnastics Championships in Tampa, Fla., where three Black gymnasts topped the all-around podium for the first time ever. Konnor McClain, a Las Vegas teen and Louisiana State University commit, secured the top spot on the podium, followed by Shilese Jones. Olympic medalist Jordan Chiles finished third.

This historic win came after Fisk University, an HBCU in Nashville, Tenn., started off the school year with a viral TikTok that gave folks a peek at the first practice of the nation’s first women’s gymnastics team at an HBCU. The TikTok, which shows off the team’s incredible flips, has been shared more than 874,00 times.

Legends like Simone Biles have inspired more Black athletes to bring their melanin magic to the gym floor. Fisk’s team is coached by a true example of Black excellence: Corrinne Wright Tarver. The nine-time All American was the first Black gymnast to join the University of Georgia and was the first Black gymnast to win an NCAA all-around national championship. And she’s not stopping there. Coach Tarver became Fisk University’s athletic director over the summer.

The team has been catching eyes since Fisk announced the creation of the program in February. One team member, Morgan Price, even decommitted from the University of Arkansas to make history at an HBCU.

“There was absolutely nothing wrong with Arkansas,” Morgan told Sports Illustrated. “The main fact of why I de-committed and switched over was solely because it wasn’t an HBCU. We will make history at Fisk, being the first HBCU with a gymnastics team. It means so much more to be able to compete for an HBCU rather than a PWI school.”

Spread the Black joy by celebrating the Black women in your life. See ya Friday!

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