Erica Snow, director of operations for VCU women’s basketball, was ecstatic when the Rams defeated UMass to win their first A10 championship. “It was a surreal moment,” she remembers, “watching the head coach embrace our seniors, knowing we had gone to the championship game three years in a row -- and this time we finally got it.”
With just eight minutes left in the game, UMass took a one-point lead, but not for long. Over the last few minutes, the Rams made 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch and scored their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2009.
The big win is a perfect embodiment of the VCU Center for Sport Leadership (CSL) axiom, “Together we build the future of sport.” In fact, four of the 11-person basketball staff members are connected with the CSL, where they honed the skills that support the players. The 12-month postgraduate business sports program is the twelfth highest-ranked worldwide and places 92% of its graduates. Snow received her master’s degree in 2019 and was immediately hired by the Rams.
After the game, she faced a two-day deadline before the team took off for San Antonio. There she would manage all the detailed logistics, in addition to new COVID regulations. To begin with, that entailed a three-bus caravan to the Richmond airport so all the players could maintain the proper social distance. Yet Snow is confident she can handle whatever challenges arise in Texas. “CSL sets you up,” she explains, “It gives you the platform to excel at your job – confidence, experience -- all the tools you need for success.”
CSL graduate assistant and videographer Jessica Ogunnorin also accompanied the team to Texas, where she will be troubleshooting IT issues. A former professional basketball player in Spain and Argentina herself, Ogunnorian may also practice drills with the players. “I’m super proud of these girls. They’re making history, but there’s more history to be made.”
Ogunnorin sees the CSL as a way for her to be part of that history. She already runs clothing, fitness and motivation businesses and holds three college degrees. “But I’m passionate about being a leader – locally and on the court – inspiring others to be their best selves,” she says. That explains her enrollment in the CSL. “None of my other degrees was related to sports, and I love student athlete development. There’s work that needs to be done there. CSL brought me back to the environment I love the most.”
As to what comes after graduation in August, she’s open to all opportunities. “A lot of great candidates apply to be part of CSL. I’ve learned a lot. I just want to be in a place where I can inspire and help people to become their best selves.”
Starting with the VCU women’s basketball team.