006-Dez Ale

Founder of HERGAME


Feature No. 6 | April 8th, 2020

Where does your love for basketball come from and how are you involved in the game today?

My love for the game goes all the way back to my youth, but it took on a whole new purpose in recent years when coaching my younger cousin Normalina. When I saw the joy and inspiration it was giving Normalina, I became dedicated to the power the game holds to transform young women.

Throughout my life, I’ve always been involved with basketball. I played all through my youth, high school, college and as a young adult I have experience working for multiple major players in the basketball space to include Jordan Brand.

Throughout these seasons, I always wished there were more on and off court experiences for girls within the game. Eventually, I stopped looking for external opportunities for the girls I mentored and started creating these spaces on my own. 

At this point I began to realize my vision and my purpose: to make a genuine difference and path for girls who love basketball to have the best opportunities within the game and beyond it. 

From that point, my love and passion became my business and Her Game was born. I oversee the overall business strategy and guidance of Her Game, the organization, as well as the young girls involved.

Do you have a specific hoop story as a kid that made you fall in love with the game?

My middle school coach, Joe Perry brought the best out of me. He was defensive minded to the core, with an emphasis on man to man defense. His mentorship matched with my desire to do whatever it took to win gave me an identity on the court: I became the player responsible for shutting the best player down on the opposition. 

I gave my all to the game because of the accountability and confidence Joe Perry instilled in me. He used to tell us that most players are more focused on putting in the effort on offense only to then rest on defense. We’re not everybody and that’s not what we’re about. We do not get beat on defense. His attitude and direction made our opponents work for everything that they got.

 

Talk to us about your current project, HERGAME? What are some events that you are planning?

Her Game is an empowerment and exposure outlet for both young girls and women in sports. It is an organization committed to developing the whole person -- mind, body and soul – while finding their place in the competitive sports space. During this uncertain time, we are currently reorganizing all of our events. We will keep you all updated on our Instagram and Twitter which are both @hergamesports.

 

What is your goal with HERGAME?  What are you looking to instill in the next gen of female hoopers?

Our goal is to continue to create spaces of opportunities for girls and young women because we believe female athletes deserve the recognition. With that said, I will continue to stand up for the representation and visibility they need. 

Every female athlete should be able to feel seen in the same light as any other athlete when they put forth the same amount of effort and passion into their craft. We're helping in the fight to remove any stigmas that exist around women in sports. We want to continue to teach the connection between life and basketball as there are so many lessons that can be taught through the game and applied to personal growth.

We want everyone in our community to know their worth and never get comfortable taking disrespect on or off the court.

 

Who are some people in the basketball world that you look up to and why?”

I am so grateful for the people that continue to mentor and encourage me through this journey. There are so many women that opened doors for me, like Noelle Quinn and Taja Edwards. 

Noelle Quinn achieved so much in her basketball career as a player alone. A McDonald’s All-American andWNBA champion, she was in full support of my first event, the Her Game Classic held at Bishop Montgomery, that featured some of the top middle school girls in Southern California. She is now the head coach at her alma mater, Bishop Montgomery High School, and also assistant coach for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. The fact that I grew up a huge fan of her game now I have her in my corner offering her advice is a dream come true. 

Taja Edwards is a family friend. She grew up playing on the same club team as my older sister, Rheina, and was a part of the powerhouse Long Beach Poly High School era from 04-07 that saw her high school team nationally ranked #2 by USA Today. She’s been to the NCAA tournament multiple times as a D1 athlete and was a McDonald’s All-American candidate as a high schooler. She started her coaching career soon after she finished her degree and was recently an assistant coach with USC/Houston Comets legend Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. Taja was one of the very first people that encouraged me to pursue my passion and help Her Game grow.