Former WBB Player Scores Big at Nike
By Roscoe Nance
courtesy of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Former North Carolina A&T State women's basketball student-athlete Tracy King is in some select company.
Eighteen MEAC student-athletes, including King, have completed the Nike Internship program since the conference became a participant in 2008. King is the only student-athlete to have served as a Nike intern twice (2013 and ’14), and she is one of four MEAC interns who currently work full-time for the sports apparel and footwear maker. She is Account Manager for the WNBA and the Gatorade League after having interned in Global Nike Basketball, a branch of the company’s marketing arm, at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.
“Basically, it was a lot of strategic planning around the basketball business on a global level at Nike,” King said. “It was a summer full of basketball, just on the business side of things.”
The Nike Internship Program is available to student-athletes and team managers from all 13 conference member schools, even if they compete in a sport that the conference doesn’t sponsor. To qualify for the 12-week program, candidates must be juniors or seniors, maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average, have a passion about the Nike brand and have an interest in pursuing a career in sports.
One male and one female are chosen each year.
“As an intern, I got exposed to a lot of different experiences,” King said. “It was super cool, not only being a student-athlete but also a basketball player, to see the business side of things and how Nike comes together and comes up with their marketing strategies and how they utilize their athletes … just different campaigns that they're doing.”
King was a three-year starting guard at North Carolina A&T, where she played from 2010-14. When she ended her career, she was the 14th player in program history to score 1,000 or more points (1,172) and ranked ninth all-time in rebounds (561) and assists (223). King was an All-MEAC second-team selection her senior season, received the Lady Aggie All-Around Award and the Lady Aggie Defensive Award. She was also named the athletic department’s Senior Female Athlete of the Year and was chosen to the MEAC Commissioner’s All-Academic Team.
King wasn’t aware of the Nike Internship until a member of the North Carolina A&T athletic department suggested that she apply for it, even though she had been researching internships. In hindsight, King says the manner in which she was introduced to the Nike Internship typifies what North Carolina A&T and the MEAC are about.
“I think my biggest takeaway from playing and being a student at North Carolina A&T was the support staff we had within the athletic department,” she said. “They (were) always (there), whether it was meetings to make sure we were on-track to graduate or just checking in to see how you're doing, to presenting new opportunities. Had it not been for the staff in the athletic department, I don't think I'd be at Nike right now or had the opportunity to intern.”
King says her internship provided her with a solid foundation for her career.
“Nothing much has changed because every day I feel like I'm learning so much more,” she said. “I'm still soaking it all in, being a sponge and trying to learn as much as I can. That's the great thing about Nike. Having those mentors and having those people that will teach you. But also being able to learn from what I did in previous roles, whether that was my internship or my role before my current role, and being able to apply it to my next role." King is still settling into her current role because the company’s contract doesn’t go into effect until the start of the 2017-18 NBA season this fall.
“Basically, day-to-day I'm servicing their daily needs on the apparel and equipment side.” she said. “Actually, this role was new a year ago and it's kind of coming together. This past year has been planning, learning what they need and really gearing up for this upcoming season."
King is bullish on the Nike Internship Program and highly recommends it for current student-athletes.
"You can't predict what the experience will be like until you have it,” she said. “The internship program at Nike is great. You aren't thrown into the wolves to feel like a lost puppy. It's a summer to share with top executives who you can learn from. No one expects you to come in and know everything about Nike and be an expert. It's an internship, and for that reason, these are people who are willing to teach you and help you learn. "Come in and learn all you can learn and see what opportunities are out there for you to get exposed to. When you come in, learn all you can learn; soak it all in, enjoy the experience, and see sports on a business side. It's a different lane than we're used to as athletes.”