Member Spotlight: Harshal Sisodia

Current Location: Seattle, WA

Occupation / Current Title & Organization you represent: CMO + Co.Founder of Super Heroic // www.superheroic.com //

We are a children’s experience company that focuses on footwear and apparel. As parents first, we are driven by our children and their amazing outlook on life,  their sense of adventure, and their creativity.

We don’t ever want our children to question their superpowers or their ability to achieve, so we made it our mission to do something about it.

Why did you choose to have a career in the sports industry?

I don’t know if I chose this career as much as it’s picked me. What drove me was trying to find a career in which I can express my creativity in different ways from ideation to execution and all the steps in-between. I also grew up in a sports household – my dad was an avid cricket player, and we were always around hi-caliber athletes like Sunil Gavaskar and that iconic 80’s Indian cricket team. So I think being around those guys gave me a love for sports. Which then manifested itself into my career path of advertising, which then led to Jordan and Nike. All were preparing me for my own company.

How has being a South Asian impacted your career in sports (positively or negatively)?

It’s in every aspect of who I am.
My culture, my identity is what gives me my perspective on things. From marketing campaigns to creative to having empathy and treating people with respect. So from that aspect, it’s incredibly positive.

From a negative standpoint – I have had to fight racism and stereotypes the entire way because I was the only brown person that I knew of doing what I was doing – so it’s not as if I had a network to lean on or someone to follow. I just had to keep my head down – and grind. I will say also I have faced an equal amount of stereotypes from our own people as well. Which was and still is super disheartening, but I use it as an opportunity to change those stereotypes one person at a time.

My hope is I can share my story for the next generation so they can learn and have the tools to handle it and fight it.

What was your inspiration for designing a shoe just for kids?

For me, it was about getting back to treating our kids like the kids they are and not mini-consumers. Making products that have empathy and thought and passion built-in – not just a profit margin. We see our selves as the guardians of the creative youth – and our entire DNA is getting kids to be more confident and helping them achieve. Lastly, I knew we could deliver on all this because of our team – which also includes the world’s foremost experts in the industry, not to mention my Co.Founder Jason Mayden.

What advice would you give to the next generation of South Asian sports industry professionals or those trying to break into the industry?

Nothing is given. You have to network, but more importantly, be and build authentic relationships. If you’re true to yourself, things will fall in line because people vibe off that authenticity. I would rather have ten folks that I can call at any moment to rock versus 100 that are just mutual relationships.

Second – be respectful of the process and the legacy. From footwear to sports organization – the countless amount of time that has gone into building these things – they won’t change overnight – you have to understand why things were done a certain way so that you can apply the change or expertise you bring to it.

Serena had this excellent quote which I have been vibing with –  “Not because we were welcomed, but because we wouldn’t stop winning.”

Go get it, and as always reach out and ask for help if you need it. We are stronger together.

Event Recap: How Social Media is Impacting Sports Culture

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On Tuesday, August 6, the South Asians in Sports organization presented a panel discussion entitled, “How Social Media is Impacting Sports Culture” at SeatGeek’s headquarters in SoHo, New York. The event offered attendees unique insights into the nexus of social media and sports through  stories and advice from two accomplished professionals, Anmol Malhotra, Head of Sports Partnerships, Snap Inc.(the parent company of Snapchat) and Dev Sethi, Head of Sports, Instagram. The discussion was moderated by Jyoti Agarwal, a Lecturer at Columbia University and a Harvard M.B.A., who is an established strategy and marketing leader with more than fifteen years of experience leading teams to drive success. The event, which lasted from 6-8 p.m. was free and open to the public, drawing approximately sixty attendees from a range of backgrounds and walks of life, including athletes, students, career professionals, and fans.

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Agarwal kicked off the event by asking the panelists about their career paths. An enlightening discussion ensued as Malhotra and Sethi narrated their journeys from backgrounds in technology, advertising, and finance to the sports’ social media universe. They explained that their diverse experiences had offered them transferable skill sets and perspectives, which have fostered success in their current roles in sports industry.

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Malhotra oversees sports partnerships at Snap Inc., leading relationships with leagues, broadcasters, and rights holders including the NFL, NBA, MLB, UFC, FIFA, Fox, Turner Sports, and NBC. In this role, he also focuses on strategy for several content partnerships and sales initiatives with leagues, teams, and athletes to help them engage new audiences, experiment with innovative forms of distribution and achieve their business objectives. In addition, Malhotra helps manage international growth initiatives with sports partners across Asia, Europe, MENA, and Latin America. Anmol is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and resides in New York City.

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Sethi oversees strategic partnerships at Instagram, across the sports ecosystem, which includes athletes, leagues, teams, and media. Before joining Instagram, Sethi was Complex Networks’ first Chief of Staff reporting to CEO Rich Antoniello. There he was responsible for developing strategic external partnerships as well as aligning internal operations across content, business development, finance and production with the goal of maximizing output and efficiencies across Complex’s portfolio of millennial-focused brands.  Dev is also a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a native of the D.C. Metro Area.

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Both panelists explained that all social platforms are eventually looking to accomplish the same things within the sports industry – to consistently find unique ways to engage fans through their platforms. As a matter of coincidence, they both arrived at their current roles from non-sports positions and offered salient career advice. Malhotra explained, “There is no right or wrong career path in the sports industry. One should be flexible. I started in finance but always knew that I would want to work in sports.” And Sethi added, “Sometimes, it is also helpful to take a break from work to channelize your inner self and reassess what is best for you. Be persistent and patient in pursuit of opportunities and also find ways to make yourself unique.”

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South Asians in Sports panel discussion and networking event Aug 2019.

Audience members asked the panelists probing questions about each of their day to day responsibilities: “What does the social media space look like in the near future?” “What are some of the resources that they look at to keep up with the latest news within the sports industry?” Sethi and Malhotra listed the Sports Business Journal and Front Office Sports as excellent resources for staying in the loop. They also suggested that those interested in the field consult books written by people about the industry.

After the enriching discussion, the panelists took part in a networking session, interacting personally with the attendees. As gracious hosts, SeatGeek provided an inviting space and ample refreshments. This was a wonderful, enlightening event that offered participants new and helpful insights into the complex integration of social media and sports from two prominent leaders within the space. Through SAIS convening this gathering, those attending, from so many different backgrounds and career stages, were able to meet, share, and learn.

Authored by
Vratik Sharma

Event: How Social Media is Impacting Sports Culture

South Asians in Sports is excited to host our upcoming panel discussion and networking event titled, How Social Media is Impacting Sports Culture. Join us on Tuesday August, 6th at the SeatGeek office for a discussion with the head of sports partnerships from two leading social platforms, Anmol Malhotra (Head of Sports Partnerships, Snap Inc.) and Dev Sethi (Head of Sports, Instagram). Learn about their journeys, current business challenges and predictions for the future of sports business. The discussion will be moderated by Jyoti Agarwal, Lecturer at Columbia University Sports Management School (previously, NBA).
Special thanks to SeatGeek for graciously hosting the event.

When: Tuesday, August 6th, 2019 6pm-8pm

Where: SeatGeek, 400 Lafayette St Fl 4, New York, NY 10003

A free event open to members and non-members. Must RSVP to attend.

Doors will open at 6pm. Event starts promptly at 6:30pm.

Click here to RSVP

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South Asians in Sports panel discussion and networking event Aug 2019.

May Member Meetup Recap and Pics

Last night, South Asians in Sports hosted our first networking event of the year. The meetup took place at Baar Baar, a trendy new gastropub in New York City’s Lower East Side. Attendees mingled over delicious hors d’oeuvre courtesy of the restaurant and drinks. Sports professionals from various industries; media, marketing, law, business development and tech and sports; basketball, cricket, baseball and tennis had a chance to network with one another.

Check out the pictures from South Asians in Sports Member Meetup below.

 

Member Meetup in New York City

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As we continue to grow, it inspires us to learn just how many South Asians are making waves in sports. We wanted to give our members an opportunity to connect in person. Join us on Tuesday, May 28th from 6-8pm at a trendy new Indian gastropub, Baar Baar in New York City. Enjoy lite bites courtesy of Baar Baar, and a happy hour cash bar as you mingle with fellow professionals. RSVP here.

Member Spotlight: Quazi Syque Caesar, a Trailblazer for South Asian Gymnastics

“It was the first sport I ever played, it was the first organized sport I’d tried. It’s the only sport I’ve ever done. And it clicked.”

Quazi Syque Caesar is a gymnast from Florida, who has represented the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Bangladesh national gymnastics team in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Winner of Bangladesh’s first international gold at the Central South Asian Artistic Gymnastic Championships in December 2011, Caesar is now retired and currently the Assistant Coach of the Stanford University Men’s Gymnastics team. His introduction to gymnastics was serendipitous, encountering a flyer for gymnastics while he and his father were walking home. His father asked young Caesar if he wanted to try it. His training began in 1997 in Florida, where he was the “only South Asian in the facility” as far as he can remember. He remembers the gym had “people from all kinds of background, and everyone was very welcoming.” Thus began a journey that would see him perform at the college level for the University of Michigan and at the international level for Bangladesh, a country he holds dual-citizenship for alongside the United States.

Caesar+Quazi+Syque+Asian+Games+Day+6+0Re1GGztH6rlCaesar understands the financial sacrifices his parents had to make to adhere to his training. One of three children, Caesar tells us about the expenses that come for parents when putting their kids through gymnastics. The cost of uniforms, competition fees, and coaches’ fees all add up.

“My parents were struggling a bit sometimes,” he says, with no shortage of gratitude. “We were driving and travelling all over the place. There was definitely a time and financial burden in the family. But they were really supportive the entire time.”

Athleticism is in his blood. Caesar’s father had been a soccer player for the Bangladeshi national team and encouraged his son to push himself to the next level. His mother was excited as well. They were both pleased by his determination and commitment to the sport.

Balancing academics with training was much easier in high school for Caesar than in college. The latter proved to be a struggle, especially in his first two years.

“In school I had figured out the system,” he tells us “I got straight A’s because I had figured out how to get straight A’s.”

As for college, the gymnast wasn’t sure how to study or learn material in the same way he had cracked the system in high school. He freaked out when he saw a D in his report card in his freshman year, an incident he refers to as an “eye-opening experience.” Incidentally, he was injured his sophomore year, and used that time to regain focus on school. By junior year, he got the hang of doing a better job balancing his academics with his gymnastics training.

The process for Caesar to represent Bangladesh in the Olympics started in late 2010. His college coach suggested that if Caesar was interested in taking his gymnastics career to the next level that he consider competing for his home country, a thought that had not occurred to him before, although his father had been thinking of it for a while.

“In the year 2011, we started that whole process, thinking if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it all the way,” he says. “My dad had contact within Bangladesh Olympic Association and the general sports federation and then we just started conversation and a year and a half-long process.”

By the end of 2011, he was able to compete for Bangladesh.

His community at the US were as equally as supportive as his immediate family to his status as an Olympian. He loves the feeling of being recognized, and being asked for his autograph. Everyone around him, and especially his family, was highly supportive and proud.

Naturally, there were cons alongside pros to his rigorous schedule, especially when it came to family and culture. Fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan was challenging, since he had to go through intense training four hours a day. He remembers trying to fast during training and literally losing consciousness.

Although in general the South Asian family lifestyle suited his training since his family had late dinner. But he also missed out on special family time since he was on a strict routine.

“My schedule in high school was waking up at 5.45 in the morning, drive to school, which was 25 miles away,” he remembers. “So I’d leave around 6.15, get there right before 7, had school from 7-2. Then I’d drive another 60 or so miles or so to the gym. I’d get there around 3.40, and had practice 4-9. Then another long journey back. I’d get back home around 10 o’clock. I’d eat dinner, do my homework. And refresh all over again.”

This wasn’t uncommon between the higher level high school gymnasts. But for him, this meant missing out on quality time with his family, as well as missing out on spending weekends with extended family in Florida.

While Caesar absolutely loved the thrill of competition, he had to retire because of the brutal training.

“To compete at the highest level you can’t do anything except train,” he says. “It was a full-time job. That’s just at the gym. In order to get at that level you’re gonna get injured, you have to do physical therapy, you have to do rehabilitation work. It was pretty brutal, if you wanted to be good. I’m someone who didn’t just want to participate.”

He also mentions that there isn’t much financial gain when it comes to male gymnasts in the US, unlike somewhere like Japan where the men overshadow the women. Moreover, he didn’t have a real job or work experience until he was 24 years old, because he had done nothing for train for almost twelve years of his life.

He misses competing immensely, from the the adrenaline rush, to the feeling of nailing his routine. He also misses the brotherhood that comes with being part of a collegiate team.

“When you’re growing up in high school in the comp level you’re by yourself,” he says, referring to competitions as “boring.” “But in the collegiate world, it’s super loud and exciting and being obnoxious and in general teammates behind you just roaring and cheering. I miss being a part of it and knowing I’m competing against the best in the world. That was motivating for me. And to be able to prove myself.”

While he was finishing off school in communications and sports management, Caesar was trying to figure out future employment. His only work experience had been as an administrative assistant at the University of Michigan.

“I had nothing, all I had was gymnastics, I was a gymnastics nerd through and through,” he recalls. “There was a point I’d seen all the college men’s gymnastics video on YouTube. I was all in, was always a student of the sport, a fan of the sport. And during the time I was training, I’d help guide the coach. Something just clicked, that it was something that I was good at.”

Syque_Caesar_JT_120816_120His friends encouraged him to look into coaching, something he had never realized was a real job as it hadn’t felt like one knowing his club gymnastics coaches growing up. During his last year at Michigan as an administrative assistant, he began reaching out to collegiate coaches across the country. The men’s gymnastics coach at UC Berkeley at the time loved his work, but did not have a position available. But, he talked to the head coach at Stanford, and Caesar got accepted as the Assistant Coach on the Stanford University men’s gymnastics tea, without any coaching experience.

Caesar sees a bright future for South Asians in gymnastics, as the typical body type is suited for the sport.

“You want to be small but you want to be wide. you want to be strong but you want to be quick,” he says. “The people of Bangladesh are built for it. “

However a lot of South Asians currently living in the subcontinent don’t have the privilege to play sports in the proper facilities with trained coaches, and are more asked to focus on academics. His parents’ immigration to the United States definitely paved the path for him to participate in sports professionally, and he had the options available to him.

“You need to have a proper facility, and an educated coach,” he says. “Those two things are super hard to come by. It’s difficult to be a good coach, and have a big or great facility. It’s hard to have the combination of both. It really comes down to having a good coach. Somewhere like Bangladesh it’s gonna be a long process.”

According to Caesar, coaches have to stick with a gymnast from when they are six to the age of eighteen or nineteen years.

Caesar himself is in his fourth year of coaching now at Stanford, as passionate and excited about the sport as ever, glad to have an opportunity to share his knowledge and wisdom. While it is busy, he also loves that it is fun. It is clear that not only does he love coaching, but he loves every single aspect of gymnastics.

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Written by Padya Paramita
Instagram: padya307
Twitter: @padya307

The Ascent of Nandita Nagangoudar

Sports can be greater than oneself, and used as a platform for social change. A shining example of an athlete aspiring to work toward a better future for women and children is mountaineer Nandita Nagangoudar.

Born and raised in Hubbali, Karnataka, Nagangoudar has already conquered four of the world’s seven summits. Initially a computer engineer and marketing manager, Nagangoudar now hopes to complete all of the seven highest peaks in the world, with the goal of empowering youth and women across India and the world through her journey and achievements. Her conquered peaks include Asia’s Mt. Everest (South Col), Oceania’s Mt. Carstensz Pyramid, Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro, and and her latest conquer Europe’s Mount Elbrus, which she scaled this past October.

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She was handed a great honor before her Mt. Carstensz Pyramid expedition, when in 2017, Nagangoudar was chosen to represent the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which comprises of 12 nations, on behalf of India. At the ASEAN flag handover ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia  in 2017, Nagangoudar delivered a speech on the theme of strengthening India’s ties with other nations and womens’ empowerment through mountaineering.

Advocating for social empowerment is not new to Nandita. She believes her dreams “are as big as Everest as she not only aspires for herself but for others too.” Alongside empowering women and speaking for strengthening of India’s ties with the world she also advocates for awareness toward climate change, education, and fitness through all through her adventures completing the Seven Summits.

Nagangoudar’s next expedition awaits her in South America, where she will aspire to scale the continent’s largest peak, Mount Aconcagua of Argentina, which lies in the Andes mountain range. Carrying both the flags of India and Karnataka, Nagangoudar hopes to create awareness for the education and uplifting underprivileged children.

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Once she has conquered Mount Aconcagua, Nagangoudar would only have the highest peaks of Antarctica and North America left to complete the the Seven Summits. As Nagangoudar continues to rise, her accomplishments grow with her, and 2019 seems to be a year full of hope for this humble and passionate mountaineer.

You can support/follow Nandita on her next climb on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NanditaNagangoudar/

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Written by Padya Paramita
Instagram: padya307
Twitter: @padya307

 

Vivo Pro Kabaddi League

The raider was swift, each step calculated with utmost precision and craftiness. With unwavering determination, he plunged towards his target. He was breathlessly swearing something and cautiously maneuvering the space around him as if his life belonged in that one movement.

No, I’m not describing a scene out of a thriller fiction novel. While the title of my article might have given it away, I am talking about one of India’s most culturally rooted sport- Kabaddi and now one of its most lucrative sports leagues- The Pro Kabaddi League.

What is Kabaddi?

For starters, it is not cricket.

Kabaddi (Pronounced- Kuh-Buh-Dee) is a contact sport involving seven active players on each side of a 33 ft × 43 ft. playing field. Players from each team alternate to act as “raiders” to fetch points for their teams.

The goal for each raider is to cross their half of the field, tag a player(s) of the opposing team and return safely to their side. Sounds simple, right? Maybe, a little twist would help. The raider must also chant the word “Kabaddi” incessantly without getting tackled.

A team earns points by getting the most tags (offensively) or defending the most raiders (defensively). Additionally, not chanting the “Kabaddi” mantra can get you out by default.

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What is the Pro Kabaddi League?

The ripple effect of the Indian Premier League spread not only to commercialized Indian sports but also to hinterland sports such as Kabaddi. Initiated in 2014, the Pro (Professional) Kabaddi League has become one of the fastest growing leagues in India. For such a young league, it boasts an impressive roster of 12 teams not only from India but South Korea, Malaysia, Oman, Japan, and Iran amongst others. 

Numbers don’t lie:

1. Viewership:

The online viewership increased to 13 million unique visitors this past season, which was 18.5 times that of last year’s unique visitors.

Additionally, the Pro Kabaddi League was watched by a total of 435 million viewers in its inaugural season in 2014.

2. Players and Popularity:

The most expensive pick at the 2017 auction was Nitin Tomar who received $9.3 million (USD) to play for the U.P. Yoddhas. The auction saw over 400 players go under the spotlight.

3. Owners and Popularity:

The chief proprietor, Star India is doubling its investment by growing the roster as well as the length of the league. This move comes after a growing demand for the sport. This will now give broadcasters a chance to draw greater value from the telecasts.

Owners include known and well regarded personalities such as Indian business moguls Gautam Adani and Kishore Biyani, Bollywood celebrities Abhishek Bachan and Ronnie Screwvala, and the Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar amongst others. Teams are well managed financially and are on the verge of breaking even as they rely on the central revenue pooling model.

What differentiated this league?

It is commendable to the owners and marketers who saw potential in a sport that had long been forgotten. With no household names and a lack of awareness on the sport, the owners managed to create a powerhouse of a league.

In my opinion, the fast-paced nature of the game, easy to learn rules, low to no cost equipment procurement and small set-up space helped push the league tremendously.

The season is well timed as it begins when the IPL season terminates, which avoids colluded attention from fans.

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International scope:

The league boasts of great international reach especially within the neighboring countries of India. Players from over 15 countries have shown participation. The league could be credited for having its own ripple effect as far out as Canada, Dubai and Pakistan which seem to be brewing their own Kabaddi leagues and tournaments.

What’s next?

For league owners, the next step is definitely to grow the league in terms of media and sponsorship rights. Despite the recent expansion, it hasn’t broken even yet. Though the goal doesn’t seem far off, it is imperative to move strategically.

A few potential advances down the line could be:

  • Expansion into more countries to gain traction.

This could be hosting a potential game in an international venue and encouraging participation from other countries. This will also help Kabaddi strengthening its case as an Olympic sport.

  • Solidifying and spreading Kabaddi’s awareness in the schools of India.
  • Flourishing the league on the women’s side could be another point of contemplation.

All in all, while IPL might still be the highest profit-making league in the country, Kabaddi has to be a sport that has amassed the country’s grassroots and traditions.

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Author: Ananya Sachdev is former national level Basketball player from India. She is pursuing her masters in Sports Management from Columbia University and is actively involved on the operational and digital side of various organizations within the sports industry. You can contact her on Linkedin.

Member Spotlight: Rahul B. Patel

San Antonio based attorney, NBA agent and sports industry leader, Rahul B. Patel is our featured member this week. Rahul has built a reputation in San Antonio as a industry leader and pioneer. He is the Managing Partner of the country’s 5th Fastest Growing Law Firm, Patel Gaines PLLC, a licensed NBA Agent, Real Estate Developer, Professor, and Serial Entrepreneur. In 2018 Patel founded, Fundamental Sports Management (FSM), an  athlete management firm in 2018 with one simple goal – to change the way NBA players are represented throughout their life – not just their playing career.

Read our interview below with Rahul on what its like to be a South Asian sports industry leader!

Current Location: San Antonio, TX
Current Occupation: CEO, Fundamental Sports Management

Why did you choose to have a career in the sports industry? Growing up in the South Asian community, sports was always an afterthought. I was often told it was a waste of time and energy, and my focus should be on my studies. Fortunately, I did just that; however, I never let my passion for sports—specifically basketball—die. When this opportunity was discussed I knew that I wanted to do something groundbreaking, novel to our community. I hoped to be a spark for others behind me. It is possible. Anything is possible. It just takes effort and passion.

What is it like to be the CEO of a company in an industry with very few South Asians? How has being a South Asian impacted your career? It is very different. Usually, like my previous ventures into the legal and real estate fields, I always had friends, family and resources to go through—specifically in our South Asian community. Here, I really am one of the first. However, my resources have been the foundation of what we are doing at FSM. Many of my investors are from the South Asian community and have been instrumental in our launch.

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You have been an industry leader for a long time now, do you have any tips on how one can stay on top of industry trends and developments? Read, read, read! How you get information today is much different from when I was growing up. As a high school senior in 1998, I had to get up, tune into ESPN at a certain time or get the newspaper to find out what happened, what the score was, did an injury happen, etc. Today, with the Internet and social media, information, resources, and trends are all out there, but nothing replaces self-knowledge. My advice is to always read, keep up with the current trends and stay passionate.

What advice would you give to the next generation of South Asian sports industry professionals or those trying to break into the industry? Never let fear drive your decisions.

You can follow Rahul on Instagram @theofficialrbp 

Member Spotlight: Basketball Sisters – Shayna & Nina Mehta

It’s not every day you come across elite athletes who are sisters and Ivy League students. This week’s spotlight is on basketball champs Shayna and Nina Mehta.

Current Location: Brown Univeristy, Providence, RI.

Current Occupation/Organization: NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball, Brown University. Shayna is senior team captain and Nina is a freshman.

What has your journey(s) to becoming NCAA D1 basketball players been like? Can you give us a few highlights?
Our stories are very similar, almost identical.  Growing up we were both gym rats, playing whatever sport was offered at school and in our community.  We both started playing basketball when we were about 6 or 7 years old, first with our dad, and then with local Rec leagues, which then led to many years of playing AAU basketball on traveling teams. Basketball in middle school pretty much consumed our lives.  We were both also fortunate enough to play in the same high school team together for one year, and both have led our small French Immersion high school team to regional titles.
In my sophomore year I was voted player of the year in San Francisco and 2 time league MVP. Nina was also voted top regional player.

I was recruited by Brown University Basketball after going to their elite camp in the summer at the end of my junior year, Nina in the summer after her sophomore year.  We both instantly fell in love with the school and the basketball program. The players and coaches were all very welcoming, and the fast pace style of play was everything that we both were looking for in a college team.

Being from San Francisco, I think my biggest accomplishment was last year when I scored a career high 33 points against a crosstown school, Cal Berkeley (ranked top 20 nationally), while setting a school record with 9 three pointers made in a game..

Off the court it would have to be my summer trip to India with Crossover Basketball, a non-profit organization dedicated to impacting the education rates of marginalized communities in India through the use of basketball as a vehicle of change.

Some accolades at Brown: 5th youngest 1,000 point scorer in Brown history, averaged 18.5 in scoring last year (2nd in Ivy League), unanimous Ivy League rookie of the year, 2 time all- Ivy League selection, 2 time team MVP.

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Photo credits: @brownsplashsisters

What is the best part of being a student-athlete?
Since Nina just started here at Brown, I will give you my feedback.  I feel that being an Ivy League student-athlete is very special. I am constantly surrounded by highly motivated, incredibly smart students, who are also some of the best athletes in Division 1 sports. Being a student-athlete has allowed me to make friends not only in my academic curriculum, but also to form a very special long term bond with my teammates and coaches. I am hoping Nina also has this same experience.

What is it like being a South Asian American student-athlete? How has being South Asian affected your careers in sports?
What we like most about being South Asian student-athletes is that we have been able to break gender and ethnic barriers. People don’t expect 5’7’ desi girls to play basketball at this level.

What is something you wish the South Asian community knew about sports/college athletics?
Sports have never been highly regarded in the SA community, especially from the older generation and new immigrants. Things are changing though, and we are both glad to be a part of that change. We wish the SA community knew how much more playing a sport can add to a students college experience. Yes there is a large time commitment, with all the practices and travel, and no doubt it is tough to juggle all of the college experience, but we both feel that the journey is incredible and invaluable.

What do you think the next generation South Asian community needs to increase NCAA participation?
Start as early as possible in picking a sport that you have a passion for and stick with it, no matter what your family and friends say. Be resilient. We were both very lucky to have supportive parents and friends who encouraged us to follow our passion.

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Photo credit: @brownsplashsisters

Do you want to have a career in sports after you graduate?
Neither of us have really decided yet, but even if it’s not a career, we both know that sports will still be a big part of our lives.

You can follow Shayna and Mehta on www.officialshaynamehta.com and Instagram @brownsplashsisters