Brand Manager at Spalding / Former Western Kentucky Forward
Feature No. 10 | May 6th, 2020
Where does your love for basketball come from and how are you involved in the basketball world today?
My love for basketball stems from my grandfather, Leroy Patton and my mother Audrey Snipes.. My mom signed me up to the YMCA basketball league when I was 4yrs old. I truly enjoyed the YMCA league and still holds some of my fondest memories when it comes to basketball. I looked forward to practice and seeing my friends all the way up until I was in 6th grade. When I turned nine my grandfather built me a basketball goal out of wood posts as the pole and a Spalding backboard and rim and we used to play from sunup to sun down. Those memories stem my love and passion for the game and I want others to experience that same feeling. I’m currently the Associate Brand Communications Manager for Spalding leading all Athlete & influencer relationships, cultural brand partnerships & activations and managing our apparel licensing.
Talk about your career at WKU, your injuries and how it prepared you for where you are today.
My career at WKU was a tough one filled with lots of adversity that has shaped me to who I am today. My freshman year I was playing good minutes but we were losing a lot and half way through the season our coach was fired and our associate head coach stepped in as the interim. We went on to win the sun belt conference championship and our interim coach became our full-time coach. I went on to have a great summer and improved all-around and was slated to be the starting small forward but I tore my ACL and Meniscus in September during a 60 min guard workout. I was out for roughly 10 months. When I came back I wasn’t the same and was frankly just a timid player. My redshirt-sophomore year was rough, I wasn’t performing well in practice, which led to sitting the bench during games and losing respect as a player from everyone. After the season, I was asked to leave the team but not forced. I contemplated it but really wanted to stick it out for the bigger picture and that was to get my degree. My redshirt-junior year was similar to the previous year but there were times when my old self flashed in practice but really became a vocal leader for the team. After my redshirt-junior year, I was on the fence about playing my redshirt-senior year and applied for a graduate assistant position in my academic department and when I recieved it, I decided to forgo my redshirt-senior year and just be a regular student in grad school. During the summer I went back home to Atlanta and just hung out with family and friends. That summer the coaches called me asking for me to come back and join the team because they needed my vocal leadership for the younger players. I talked it over with my family and decided to go back to WKU to finish my redshirt-senior year in July and I was truly out of shape for the first time in my life. Looking back I am so glad I did. I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. My redshirt-senior year was my best year ever. I was truly a key piece to the team averaging 9 points a game. At the end of the season during the Conference USA tournament, over three games, I averaged 17 points a game and shot over 50% from 3 and made the Conference USA All-Tournament team. All the adversity taught me patience and perseverance. It also put the importance of education in perspective when it came to my future and needs/wants to live a comfortable life with or without playing basketball which has prepared me for my transition into corporate America.
How did you get started with Spalding? How have you transitioned within the company?
The summer before entering my second year of grad school, I applied and received an internship from the consumer marketing team ran by Kenyatta Bynoe and Chris Martin at the time. After spending a year interning I had the opportunity to work with different athletes and marketing campaigns. I was offered a job in the Product Marketing team on the team channel side. After a year and a half in that role the consumer marketing team went on to other opportunities which left me the opportunity to back fill and continue the great work they established at the Spalding. After Kenyatta and Chris moved on to different companies our retail team was needing new images of DeMar DeRozan but didn’t have the contacts to set it up. I saw that opportunity for me to step in and show my value from my internship experience. I worked with Nate Jones and Eric Goodwin to set up the shoot and was able to talk with Eric Goodwin about Spalding and had a great conversation and a successful shoot that led to Eric reaching out to my bosses about me continuing the relationship with DeMar DeRozan. Shortly after that I was moved into my current position an Associate Brand Communications Manager. I’m very appreciative of Kenyatta Bynoe and Chris Martin for the opportunity to work on a sports brand and to Chris for being a great friend and mentor in my professional career. I was able to learn a lot from them in a short period of time.
Talk about some of the best projects you have worked on at Spalding. How was it working with DeMar Derozan and Chris Paul on Go Hoop Day?
The first project that comes to mind is the most recent one with Chris Paul and Target. I worked with Kristin Conte, Game7 marketing, AJ Richardson and Chris Paul on a custom basketball, designed by Chris Paul and his son Lil Chris, exclusive to Target. This project also included a basketball court refurbishment in Oklahoma and a 3-part series on the relationship between them and the most important thing to them which is family. The series was amazing to work on because Chris and Lil Chris’s relationship is inspiring and even beyond Chris and lil Chris’s relationship their whole family dynamic is inspiring. It was dope to be able to witness that first hand and bring it to life for the project.
Another project is the Spalding HolidaySlam. Matt Day and I Co-developed the platform for basketball’s only e-commerce holiday.It was amazing to pull off a digital experience like the Spalding Holiday Slam with limited resources and to work with great brands that saw the value in being a part of it. Our partners, Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan getting involved as the co-host of the experience was great and led the event to be successful.
GHD is an amazing event because the core of basketball is the enjoyment of getting out on the court and just playing. And being a partner of Chris Paul, Spalding wants to support him in everything we can and GHD is a no brainer to be a part of to help Chris reach his goal of making GHD the world’s largest platform to celebrate the game.
What excites you most about Basketball coming back?
The chance to continue to build the Spalding brand to a level that is loved and respected by all by creating events that drive fan engagement and builds fond memories that stems everyone's love and passion for the game. Before the pandemic there were a lot of activities in motion to help build and take the Spalding brand to where I believe everyone expects the brand to be and I can’t wait to jump start those plans again.