Women’s Basketball Players Win with Womentoring Program

Posted: December 18, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ryann Doyle

Junior sports management majors Tiffany Reaves and Courtney Exum are working to open up new opportunities for the 13 members of Mason’s women’s basketball team.

In conjunction with head coach Debbie Taneyhill, they are implementing Womentoring, a mentoring program involving Mason female faculty and staff members and the players.

“When you are an athlete, you don’t have time that a nonstudent–athlete has to join other groups on campus where you get some connections that are valuable down the road,” says Taneyhill. “I thought this would be really nice if we could expose our young women to some of the great, professional women we have here at Mason.”

Few college athletes go into the professional ranks, and the majority of Mason’s women basketball players do not pursue basketball after college. Many have other interests and are majoring in fields such as communication, finance and nursing. However, by committing so much time to basketball practices, traveling and games, players may miss out on important networking opportunities that nonathletes get by building closer relationships with professors outside the classroom and by joining campus organizations.

The goal of Womentoring is to have at least one faculty or staff member be a mentor for each major represented on the team. Through open practices, luncheons, as well as VIP access to games and workshops, a mentor can create a bond with an athlete so the player will feel comfortable asking for guidance and inquiring about what the mentor has accomplished and how she got to where she is today.

This generates an atmosphere that promotes women helping women and a healthy athlete-faculty/staff relationship. It also gives players a valuable networking resource.

“There are some really good women who have accomplished great things that are a part of this university. I don’t know anything about what makes a good nursing candidate, or how to get jobs in other fields. But I do know we have people here at the university that do, and I think it’s necessary to have great role models and mentors for our players,” says Taneyhill.

“And if on the side we can get a couple more people at our games and get people involved in our basketball program, well, that is just icing on the cake,” she adds.

women mentors listening to Debbie Taneyhill
Participants in the Womentoring program listen to coach Debbie Taneyhill explain the program.

Exum and Reaves put in a major effort to recruit mentors. After a mass e-mail returned few replies, the students opened the Mason directory and personally called each female listing, starting with ‘A’ and going all the way to ‘Z.’ This generated interest among the faculty and staff, and the organizers say they are well on their way to meeting their goals.

Womentoring recently held its first event, a breakfast for the players, mentors and members of the NOVA United 50+ women’s basketball team. NOVA United is a local association that provides women age 50 and over opportunities to play three-on-three basketball while having fun, keeping fit and developing lasting friendships.

Over breakfast, the participants shared stories and mingled to get to know each other. Taneyhill gave the mentors an idea of what to expect from the program and talked about why the program was developed.

“Our first event was a success, and we are extremely proud of how it turned out,” says Exum. “Of course, both Tiffany and I were a little nervous, seeing as how it was the first event and we didn’t know what to expect, but based on feedback we received from different faculty members, it seems everyone enjoyed it.”

For more information on the program or to become a mentor, contact Courtney Exum or Tiffany Reaves.

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