Bucky Brooks Introduces Dr. Debby Stroman

Dr. Debby Stroman will usually conduct the interviews, but in this case, NFL Network correspondent Bucky Brooks shines the light on Dr. Debby to get her perspectives on race in sports, athletes using their platforms, how athletes are not getting the true college experience, and how country club sports are powered by the sweat of young black men. You don’t want to miss this.

Dr Debby Stroman: You’re listening to If You Only Knew with Dr. Debby Stroman. I am so, so blessed and honored to have Bucky Brooks. Yes, the Bucky Brooks from UNC Tarheel, but also from the NFL network, and Bucky and I are going to have a conversation and actually the light is going to be spun back to me.

Because I think If You Only Knew with Dr. Debby Stroman is a great way to meet some wonderful people from all across the country – in fact, all across the world – who have interesting stories. But today, we’re going to have you heat my take, my perspective. Welcome Bucky.

Bucky Brooks: Hey, thanks so much for having me on Dr. Stroman. This is a fantastic opportunity. Like, I’ve known you obviously, but a chance to really get down and really know how you’ve become the person that you become and how you become one of the most impactful influences when it comes to young people and also when it comes to race and sports.

And so, I’m excited to kind of take the mic from you and put it in front of your face and have you kind of tell stories. And so, I kind of want to start off – because I would like to really understand your, your background and where you come from. I know athletics has been a big part of your life, but just kind of walk us back to how you got to this place using athletics.

Dr Debby Stroman: Well, thank you for that because as you know, you know, it starts as a youngster, you know, being an athlete. I came out of the womb as an athlete, you know, I was playing every type of sport possible. And to this day, I would say kickball is still my favorite sport. Yeah, I was balling, playing football, playing basketball, softball. In fact, in school, going from elementary to high school, on a formal team. I played basketball, I played softball, I did a little track and field, I even tried field hockey for a little bit. Was a football manager in high school, so that’s why I still, in terms of observation and watching sport, I love football the most.

And then when I got to UNC, and I know we’re going to go there, but as a graduate student at Chapel Hill, I was actually on the lacrosse team. And this lacrosse team became officially the varsity lacrosse team. Because when you grow up outside of Philadelphia, lacrosse is big and I was busy with my other sports, but I’ve always loved that sport. And so, yeah, it started as a young age, just being out there competing and, you know, we had a wonderful neighborhood and all the kids would get out and play, and I was definitely one of the ones out there.

Bucky Brooks: You know, because you, we always hear about the lessons that athletes are able to learn from sports and how they can apply them in their lives, post-playing career.

But for young ladies, playing sports and participating in athletics is very, very beneficial. What are some of the lessons that you learned from participating in athletics that helped you become very, very successful?

Dr Debby Stroman: Well, the biggest one is being a competitor. And, you know as an athlete, when you have that competitive spirit, you don’t quit easily.

And so I persevere, I persevere and continue until all possibilities have been exhausted, and I think that’s a big part of my life now. I like to say I’m not that competitive, but my friends, family say, “Oh no, you are very competitive. You like to win at everything.” I would say the other thing is teamwork. You know, being blessed with athletic gifts, oftentimes it’s very easy for me to spot. It’s very easy for me to spot someone who’s not as talented and not as gifted. And so, I believe in team. And so even as a youngster, when I was usually one of the captains to start the football game or basketball game or whatever, I would oftentimes pick someone to be on my team early on who wasn’t a skilled, and still talking smack as in, we’re still going to beat you. I believe in teamwork. I believe in everybody has a, has a role to play when you talk about a winning organization. And I think that’s – that those are the two biggest, I would say teamwork and just being competitive and never quitting.

Bucky Brooks: You know, because you were able to take your experience in athletics and then go into the business world, I am not surprised that the traits that, or the lessons that you said you learned from athletics, were things that consisted around competitiveness and teamwork. Because in business, a lot of it is about understanding that there’s a bottom line. There’s a result. They keep a scoreboard in some way, shape or fashion. And then teamwork, can you find a way to cooperate with, your, your business partners or leaders or salespeople, staff, or whoever that is in business that you get along with? And so, in thinking about that, because we are at a,  I want to say, like, I would say a major turn in history where we’re seeing the rising of so many groups. We’re seeing minorities have bigger voices. Within that minority, we’re seeing women and young ladies have bigger voices, not only in athletics, but also in the business world. When you think about all of those lessons and the things, are you surprised that now we’re at this moment where people feel empowered to utilize their voice and really show that their skills are applicable in any form of life?

Dr Debby Stroman: Well, I think the power of media, you know, it tells the stories, it creates the narratives, it reinforces narratives. And one of the narratives out there is that the country has been awakened. And I’m talking about racial matters with the George Floyd murder. But people have been protesting, people have been working towards racial justice, for social justice, for centuries. You know, whenever you have a dynamic, when people come together – this is my belief – that there’s a group of people who want to have control, and they want to influence, and they want to call all the shots. And then the rest of the people, some just fall right in line, and others say, “No, there’s a better way. We need shared governance. We need shared resources.” And so there’s always been pushback, but with the media today, and again, the advances of technology, we can shine the light on the WNBA and what they’re doing. We can shine the light now on Venus Williams, who fought for pay equity in women’s tennis. You know, we can shine a light on, you know, the various athletes, the various coaches and administrators who are lifting up their voice.

But it’s always been happening. And I’m glad that we have the technology now and the ability to  stories, right? We’ve got the Players Tribune. We have folks in the athletic world who have money, who are now creating their own media platforms. You don’t need to wait for traditional media to tell your story, to tell your truth.

And because of that, now traditional media is trying to respond and hiring us, people who look like us, they’re trying to be a part of this, but definitely the movement is here. And I’m very, very glad to be a part of it.

Bucky Brooks: No, it’s interesting because you are a part of, what I would say, a very influential place to me, University of North Carolina, and you talk about activism, and activism with athletes speaking to the social issues. I can remember taking a class, a political science class at Carolina, and we openly discussed, I discussed, the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and the protest to John Carlos and Tommie Smith and the demonstration that they’ve made on the podium and how that movement was fueled by Harry Edwards. Recent years, I would say like during my time in school in the nineties, athletes weren’t expected to be activists.

It was a push. It was the urge. We need you to utilize your voice. What do you think has shifted where athletes are now more comfortable being in that role where they speak to the issues that they’ve experienced in their own communities?

Dr Debby Stroman: Well, there’s no doubt that influencers make a difference for young people.

And I think there was a period of time where you had prominent athletes like Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Arthur Ash, you know, people who the spotlight was on them and they were taking the time to use their platform. And so we had civil rights, we had protests going on, but you saw, you know, a lot of young people in that space.

And I don’t know if we had an absence, you know, whether it was the seventies or eighties, but I don’t recall many prominent athletes who were Black or brown who had that microphone and who were being very vocal and media was following them because that’s a big part of it, the media has to give you the spotlight. But today, talking about influencers, there are so many to choose from.

If you’re a young girl, you can look at Maya Moore. Whose sacrifice in the middle of her prime, her productivity, she said, you know what? I’m going to stop because basketball doesn’t mean more than humanity, and she worked towards racial justice. If you’re a guy, I mean, there’s so many to choose from, but you know, one person that I lift up even more than his basketball abilities is LeBron James and what he’s done.

And so, today, I think the young athletes, the college athletes, have people that they can point to. And they’re given tools. They’re given tools because we have smartphones, we have our own accounts on social media, we’re learning how to connect with people through LinkedIn and using different ways that we can connect and get information.

So the young athletes are much more – they’re bolder. Now, are they where we need them to be in terms of their own survival and thriving? No, but we definitely see many more of them are coming together and saying, “Hey, I have something to say, or I want to take a position on this.”

Bucky Brooks: You know, you brought up two points and two initiatives that I think are very. very Important, in the community.

One, when you talked about Maya Moore, criminal justice reform because we all have been impacted by, typically, having someone within our family or extended family that has been a part of the system. The second part is voting rights and that initiative, and just trying to understand how important it is.

So I want to tackle criminal justice first. When you see a Maya Moore speak on some of the things that we may say are inherently wrong with the system, where do you think, not only the courage to talk about it, but the knowledge and wisdom to provide an educated perspective come from, and how can we get our young people to really know more about those issues?

Dr Debby Stroman: Well, there’s no doubt that when a microphone is put in front of you, you have an opportunity to share your truth and lift up other folks in terms of what they’re saying about the matter. What gets dangerous is when you have a prominent athlete, coach administrator, who speaks and has the nation’s attention and they don’t have the correct knowledge, they don’t have the information.

And so, I’m glad that they have the microphone, but I continue to hope that more of our most powerful, influential folks in racial and social justice will say, “This is what I know, and if you want to know more, you need to call this person. You need to go to this website, you need to look at this data that’s being produced.” Because what people will do, who are working against change, who are working against racial justice, will try to make that person seem like they’re dumb.

They’ll try to embarrass them. They try to trick them with some research that may or may not be true. And so I’m hoping that more influencers will say, “I’m not an expert on this, but this is my truth, and here’s someone that you should speak to.” Now, there’s lots of education and research around this. I’m very excited to be a part of the Advancement of Blacks in Sports.

It’s a new organization that’s been formed that’s going to do just that. It’s going to provide education. It’s going to provide the data from top scholars from all across our country who are speaking to this inequity, to the disparities that are happening. But I’m encouraged. On college campuses today, now, we’re seeing more courses being offered. There are some very bold senior leaders at universities, for example, Georgetown, some other universities that are saying “This is mandatory now. If you’re a first-year student, you need to know this because we’re all a part of this.” And the education is so needed. I’m not here to pick on K through 12, but we know it’s a challenge, especially in this space around race and racism.

We have to do more work in this space so that we can have more healing, we can have collaborative decision making, that we can advance as a people, as a nation.

Bucky Brooks: No, it’s funny because you talk about education and people having basically what I took from that mentor course. If I want to be active in the community, I want to shed the light on things that are near and dear to me, I need to seek out mentors to be able to help.

It appears that LeBron James has certainly sought out enough mentors to kind of help him drive this voter registration push that he is really focused on. When you’re around campus and you see young people, because young people 18 or older have the right to vote, do you believe that the tide is turning where they’re understanding their power and their influence just by electing to use their right to vote?

Dr Debby Stroman: There is no doubt they’ve become aware and they are working for change. And I’m not here to paint, you know, one side, whether you’re red or you’re blue, but the idea is civic engagement and that’s happening for sure. You know, we need more critical thinking, more critical analysis in terms of what are the topics, what are the concerns that matter?

You know, I don’t think anybody should be, against environmental justice, right, that affects everybody. But isn’t it sad that, you know, we can go to almost any place in our country and purchase unleaded gas, but yet there are communities in our country that don’t have unleaded water. So this is an example of things where it shouldn’t matter what your political party is. There are things that require young people to pay attention, and yes, it is happening in a big way. And again, the power of the media, social media. Now we can know what’s going on, you know, across the world and get involved with that and be supportive and help.

Bucky Brooks: You know, it’s funny that you bring it up, in terms of like young people paying attention and being aware. To bring you back to the sports world, because you have coached, you obviously played basketball at University of Virginia. What impact should coaches have on educating their players to engage in matters that extend beyond athletics?

Dr Debby Stroman: Well, the reason why – we’re talking college right now – the reason why we have physical education, why we have sports on our college campuses, because way back when they were considered instructors, they are teaching the physical education.

Because we know it’s about mind, body, and soul, and you have to have the body in tune, in shape so that it can hear, it can listen, it can think properly. And so coaches are educators, but somewhere along the way, you know, the competitive side, maybe the, the commercialization. We’ve moved into having coaches who don’t do anything else on campus but take care of their particular sports team, and we’re definitely seeing that in K through 12. But I think that your role, and especially when parents and guardians and grandparents are handing off their young people to you, you’re that surrogate parent. And so you have to educate not only the X’s and O’s, not only how to make your body quicker, faster, and stronger, but also the mind. As in, doing your best to make sure there’s education around various topics that will affect them, not when they’re 22-years-old, but when they’re 32, and when they’re 52. And because of the power of the coach, when the coach says “Take that course or consider this,” or bring in their own speakers, the athletes will be much more loyal to that. They’ll participate, they’ll show up. And so, I think coaches have a lot of power. And of course, when we think about power five, if they don’t have positional power, they have financial power. Right? As we know, there are a lot of coaches across the country who are making the highest amount of money in the state.

They are the highest paid employee in the state. And so, that power in itself will lend itself to being more influential with their athletes and their education.

Bucky Brooks: You know, it’s funny because this period that we’ve been in, the pandemic, the fallout from George Floyd, we’ve seen, in essence, a crumbling of the college sports system.

We have seen that, without certain sports, that the university is not able to necessarily function in certain capacities. It can’t fund other sports. And so when you think about the racial demographics of the sports that are the revenue sports – basketball and football – you’re seeing that Black and brown bodies are really upholding the athletics. Yet, the coaches don’t necessarily look like them. And so when you think about that relationship and you think about the recruiting process and how these coaches go into these living rooms and talk about being father figures and the like, should we put more on our coaches from an expectation of developing well-rounded people as opposed to just athletes?

Dr Debby Stroman: Yes. Yes. Yes. Not only from the perspective of them being that surrogate parent away, and you have a responsibility, but also just thinking about the optics of it all. You’re exactly right. The dataset that brown and Black young men, 18 to what? Twenty-two, 23-years-old are funding non-revenue sports. And some people like to call them country clubs sports, the golf, the tennis.

They’re being funded off of the backs off of the labor of young Black men. That’s the truth. And so, what can we do to make sure we have shared resources, shared power and so that we can empower these young men to have more of the college holistic experience. And some people would argue, “Well, you know, they’re getting a scholarship.”

Well, you have to provide things that are – the compensation has to be in a currency that they value. And when you are thinking about the NBA or the NFL, because you, many of them have those types of gifts, not that they all make it, we know the numbers that they won’t, but they’re 18, 20 years old, and their mind is right there.

Can I be a pro athlete? And so to say that taking this physics course or taking this American history course is going to be a priority, that’s absurd. They’ll go to the course, and they’ll try their best, but their bodies are tired. Their minds are tired. And so, we can’t expect them to be a hundred percent present.

Now, do we have many who do a good job? Absolutely. We’ve got scholar athletes, but I’m talking about the collective. And so how about giving them a currency where, when they’re talking 25 years old or 45 years old or 65 years old, when they can have that education and they can do all those things, that don’t cost them a cent.

And now I know there are programs out there who say “We do that now. I’ve – let’s just say I’ve got, I’ve done my homework and it’s not as easy as it appears to be a part of those programs. Athletic departments make it very difficult. Yes, I’m saying this. Athletic departments make it very difficult for those alumni athletes to come back and participate in the education process. And so yes, coaches need to step up in this space. They need to do more. They can do more. And, you know, I’m encouraged by some coaches who are now taking – they’re being educated themselves in this space.

And so we have a long way to go, but I do stay encouraged.

Bucky Brooks: Yeah. It’s funny because, along that topic, you pinned something that was very interesting to me when I read it. You wrote the ultimate guide to selecting a historically white college university for an elite Black athlete. And in this piece, you touched on a few different things that resonated with me. You encouraged young athletes to go and do their own research, separate and apart from the experience that they may have on recruiting weekend, to see if there are people of color in prominent roles in administration, there are people of color in prominent roles on campus, to talk to professors.

Can you expand a little bit on what you wrote and what you found and why it’s so important for young people to make an educated decision when they choose to go to college?

Dr Debby Stroman: Your college experience, that can really send you in a particular way, certain trajectory. So you have to take it serious.

And I’m not saying that they don’t, but oftentimes the focus is like 80-20 on athletics. And so, it’s important to have role models to see people that look like you. This is K through 12, but it’s applicable all over, more than – I think it’s about 50% of young people in our K through 12 are Black, person of color, and there’s less than 2% of teachers who are Black males. That’s powerful, that’s powerful. And so we have to think about, when you show up on that college campus, who’s going to be that support group for you? And I know athletics is built, it’s designed to be, you know, your one stop shop for everything.

But we know that is a terrible, terrible, poor model. Because when you get out into the real world, you can’t think that this one institution where your employee is going to be everything for you. So the athletic department will have all the bells and whistles, you know, in terms of look how many uniforms you get, look at the Nike or the whatever shoes that you get.

Look at the meals, you know, you get a five course, you know, five different vegetables to choose from and three different meat choices. All of that. That’s attractive again for 20-year-old, a 17-year-old, but what’s the bigger picture? What are the professors that will be available to speak to you when things get rough or you lose a loved one back home, and you don’t want to see anybody in athletics because you know, you had to practice or you had to do this game or whatever, because of the pressures, and you’re still mourning? Who’s going to open up your eyes in terms of some subjects? Who are the alumni that you have access to and to speak to? Not that they’re going to be there to try and get something free from you, but there are caring alumni at universities who want to help our young men and women, and they don’t want anything.

In fact, they’re successful in their own right. They don’t need any tickets. But we just have this mentality of us versus them, building walls and our athletes don’t get the full experience of college. And so, yes, it’s important. It’s important to look at the big picture.

Bucky Brooks: Yeah, it’s funny. You, once again, you touched on something that means a lot to me.

You talked about K through 12, and research said 50% will be people of, kids of color, but the 2% are Black male teachers. As someone who grew up wanting to be a teacher because my 10th grade teacher, Ms. Watson, a black lady, my English teacher. She encouraged me to teach because she said that there was a void.

So now, when I think about what you talked about, coaches were originally PE instructors who supposed to be educators using the grass or the hardwood as their classroom. When I see the lack or the disparity amongst white and Black and brown coaches in the college ranks, how can we expect our young people to really flourish when they do look up and they don’t see enough people that look like them?

Dr Debby Stroman: Well, I think there are many who are doing very well, so I don’t want to repeat that myth that all Black men who go to, you know, pros are, you know, banged up and broken, beaten up their wives and girlfriends. That is a myth. That’s an absolute myth. Now are some of them having difficulties? Absolutely. Just like most Americans.

When you jump into that, not six figure, but seven figure incomes, and you look at the research, they’re a lot of people who struggle with that because if they came from a household where you had, you know, less than $50,000, and now all of a sudden you’re making 5 million? That’s a different dynamic and it requires different skills and having different people close to you.

And so I’m not here to pick on that, that rich black athlete. But yes, there is some more work that needs to be done. There’s more education that needs to be done. I think that, you know, we’re in a situation where we have more access to people who are willing to help, who have education, who have data, who can clear things up.

We have more, schools and colleges who are willing to say that there are answers outside of our campus and that we need to go talk to people. We need to create partnerships and we don’t have to be the ones that are so guarded, you know, that it’s only our way. We’re the only ones who can speak to a particular matter.

Bucky Brooks: You know, it’s funny. I want to get this last question out  before I pivot to something else, but. Of late, we’re seeing prominent Black athletes, basketball players, openly discuss the possibility of going to HBCUs because of what is going on and wanting to maybe keep their talents within the community.

What do you think about that idea of young athletes committing to going to historically Black colleges and universities?

Dr Debby Stroman: I think it’s a positive move, but I’m a realist and it’s not going to happen in large waves. I know this system and I know the attractiveness, the carrots of playing at a major university. HBCUs are challenged funding wise. And so you’re not going to have the same resources. You’re just not. And that’s a fact. And so a lot of young people, when they’ve got the thoughts of, you know, maybe a year I could be in the NFL or the NBA, and I want to have the best facilities, the best strength and conditioning, the best nutrition possible to prepare myself.

So what I propose is that to help HBCUs, again, it’s great if you sign with an HBCU, but at the very least have an HBCU in your final five. And so that way the cameras, the media, other coaches, other organizations will learn about a Hampton, they’ll learn about a Howard and North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central. They’ll learn about a Florida A & M. So more people in our country will know about these very, very important institutions that are doing yeoman’s work, right, from day one when they were established because white colleges and universities did not allow Blacks to attend. And so, just put them in your finals pool, even though you probably will end up at a major power five school.

So that’s my thought on that.

Bucky Brooks: So now I want to pivot and talk about young ladies and young ladies in sports and kind of making the rise because I do believe sometimes on campus, we don’t talk enough about the contributions that young ladies make to the athletic programs and the challenges that they face on campus.

When you interact with young people who have followed your footsteps and play athletics on women’s teams, what are some of the challenges that they face when they step on the campus?

Dr Debby Stroman: Well, we know that, and I know people don’t like to talk about it, but we do have so on our college campuses around sexual assault.

And so, you know, the female athlete, and I think, you know, this, this is consistent with the research as well, that many, many business leaders who are female played sports. And could it be the competitiveness, the teamwork, the drive, the persistence, the discipline, all those wonderful lessons that are taught, but you’re much more confident on a college campus.

And so female athletes can help their girlfriends, their buddies in terms of, “You know, what? It’s time to leave the frat party.” Or “No, you’re not going upstairs,” right? Or “Don’t let that guy talk to you that way.” And so, I think that’s an important role that female athletes can play. Another challenge, of course, just like the guys, is scheduling because the demands are just as strong, even though, you know, there isn’t necessarily a pro hockey team, field hockey team that you can play for in the United States, but you have lots of, lots of pressure.

And especially in our power five schools, ’cause they’re all competing, you know, for the championships as well. And so, “Hm, should I major in this or should I major in that? If I major in this other subject matter, then I can do more work athletically.” So they’re still trying to figure out how to manage themselves.

I won’t say manage time, we can’t manage time, we can manage ourselves in terms of the academic majors. I would say another part is, you know, taking care of the body. You know, we have lots of research around, you know, eating behaviors and how that affects athletes as well. You know, putting the right nutrition in our bodies, what’s, you know, what’s too much sugar.

You know, we have all these crazy diets out there, and, I think for most athletes, they are getting the proper information in terms of that is something that you don’t want to do. It is important for you to have protein, right? It’s important for you to eat carbs and fats. Right? All these things are important, but there’s so much misinformation out there that it confuses a lot of young people,

Bucky Brooks: You know, recently we have seen more women make headway in terms of positions of power in athletics.

Not only in the coaching ranks, but in athletic administration, we’re beginning to see it filter into other sports that weren’t traditionally pathways for women. Football, we’re beginning to see more female scouts and administrators. What do you believe has been kind of the cause of the impetus for the rise of women in athletics in terms of going to positions of power

Dr Debby Stroman: Results. People want results and they want the best person, regardless of your gender, your sexual orientation. And so that’s why we’re seeing more men who have the courage to say, “I want her. Even though it doesn’t look right, it goes against tradition. I want women.” I’m really happy about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the women that they have.

And we’re talking about coaches, not carrying a clipboard and, you know, taking pictures, coaching. We’ve got Carla Williams, you know, the first female athletic director at a power five school at Virginia running the athletic department. You know, we have, NBA Players Association being run by a woman. And so, I think people want results.

And there’s no doubt that women have been managing everything from the household, from raising children, you know, the epitome of multitasking – even though the research is saying multitasking is not necessarily good – but there’s no doubt that women have done a great job of trying to, you know, make a way out of no way.

And so I’m very, very pleased to see that we’re starting to see more women, you know, run universities, major universities. But, bottom line, people want results and women deliver.

Bucky Brooks: You know, it’s, it’s interesting. you’re talking about bottom line and results, can we talk a little bit about what diversity brings when you’re sitting at the top level?

Meaning not just diversity of race and ethnicity and gender, but just having a kaleidoscope of people that are sitting at the table when decisions are made, why is that important to have various perspectives?

Dr Debby Stroman: Well, when you’re trying to solve something, you want as many perspectives, theories, thoughts as possible.

If you walk into a room, into an organization or a team, and everybody looks like you, and everybody has the same background, it’s pretty strong that you’re not going to have a good solution. You might have one that makes everybody happy, right, ’cause everybody is thinking the same, but in terms of actually affecting change and bringing about the best possible result, odds are you’re working from a deficit. And so, that’s why it’s important to have diversity. Diversity of thought, diversity of background, experience, and generally that comes with working with people who don’t necessarily look like you, who don’t necessarily speak your same language, who might not have grown up in the same hometown or gone to the same school.

And so that’s why we always want to think about diversity, meaning variety. You know, I don’t like the phrase, you know, melting pot because we know it happens when we melt things and who gets melted. I believe in a salad bowl where every piece of that salad bowl brings value. Whether it’s the lettuce, whether it’s the radish, whether it’s tomatoes, the onions, the sunflower seeds, the cucumbers, everything brings value.

And so that’s why I think diversity is important.

Bucky Brooks: Yeah, it’s interesting, like, you and I have talked offline about coaching high school ball  and being around young people and just the different backgrounds, not only racial and ethnic, but socioeconomic backgrounds and why it’s so important to have, as you say, the salad bowl when it comes to it. And looking at your personal rise from a professional standpoint, you have been able to really do some unique things. Founder of the Center of Sports and Business Athletics. Let’s talk about some of your own personal accomplishments and what are some of the things that you’re most proud of that you’ve been able to put your hands on?

Dr Debby Stroman: Now, I have to pause on that one. You know, as I age and I’m cleaning out my house now and making space, you know, what’s that whole big movement about simplify, I’ve found so many articles and conferences and pictures of things that I’ve experienced. And I guess because of my nature just to go to the next and to the next, that I haven’t paused a lot.

And I was thinking like, ‘Wow, I’ve really done some interesting things, some fascinating things. I’ve met some incredible people. You know, I played golf at Sawgrass, you know, and got a birdie.” You know? And I was like, “Wow, it’s been a pretty cool, pretty cool journey.” But being, you know, having an entrepreneurial mindset is, is a lot of fun because even though you work in an organization, you’re charting your own path and you’re building teams.

And so I’ve many, many teams that I’ve been a part of or had the opportunity to lead that have been a great blessing to me. You know, I think about the Carolina Sport Business Club, you know, one of the most popular clubs on campus and being a part of a reenergizing that was just myself and one student, Chris Crawley.

And now it’s just an amazing group of young students who’ve been able to connect with one another, collaborate with one another and go off to great jobs in the sport industry. You know, I think about the Center of Sport Business and Analytics, having a Basketball Analytics Summit where I’m talking to some of the brightest minds from all over the world and being able to share that, that’s been a blessing. I think about, you know, being a part of a sorority, you know, the divine nine being a part of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated in the system. So, the women all across the country that I’ve been able to connect with and just a beautiful sisterhood. I think about my basketball family in so many respects.

From University of Virginia, some of my closest sisters to this day and understanding that Virginia tree from John Swofford, who’s commissioner of the ACC, we first met at Virginia, and how he’s been able to pour into my life and, and help. And I think about coming to Chapel Hill and, I mean the epitome of basketball, and being able to, you know, coach alongside Jennifer Allie and coach Dean Smith and coach Roy Williams Williams and now, you know, the head coach. Thinking about all the athletes at, at Carolina that I’ve been able to work with. The college football playoff. You know, being a part of that team under the leadership of Michael Kelly, who used to be the deputy commissioner for football for the ACC, he invited me to come and bring a group of students.

And he’s moved on, he’s an athletic director now, but continuing that relationship. So it’s been an amazing journey, and I’m not finished yet. I’m not finished yet, but thank you for asking that.

Bucky Brooks: No, it’s been a fantastic journey. And I’m sure that your listeners are excited about all of the many things that you’ve been able to do, the way that you’re able to influence young people, the way that you’re able to have, what I would consider, these tough conversations on the intersection of race and sports

Dr Stroman .

it’s been a fantastic conversation. Any final thoughts before you’re out?

Dr Debby Stroman: Well, I want to thank you. You know, I think it’s tough to kind of have the spotlight shone on myself.

I just want to talk about you and all your amazing accomplishments, but you know it’s all about connecting with people. You know, I tell my students all the time, it’s not what you know, it’s not who, you know, it’s who knows you on a favorable basis. Because you can have a stack of business cards, the old Rolodex and all of that, but if people ask for help, who’s going to show up? And it’s because you have a favorable relationship with them. So I thank you for this time, I thank you for being with me today and let’s keep moving it forward.

Bucky Brooks: Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me on and allowing me to play the leader role for once.

Dr Debby Stroman: Thank you, Bucky.

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If You Only Knew…with Dr. Debby Stroman is edited and produced by Earfluence, and brought to you by The Diversity Movement.

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