Written by Imani Clenance
The Winning Edge Leadership Academy has been the answer to a dream I didn’t even realize I had. Prior to joining the Winning Edge one of the things I loved doing was meeting with people who are trying to make their way in the sports industry. It was my way of paying it forward. While I was in school and on the job hunt there were so many people who were generous with their time and their advice. It was invaluable to be able to sit down with someone and hear about their experiences and give me tips on finding my own path. Although cliché “It’s not what you know but who you know” is even more amplified in the world of sports. Networking and meeting the right people is half the battle. I am so grateful to people along the way who were able to give me those crucial introductions. If there was a way that I was able to do that for someone else I was more than happy to do it.
Then I heard about the Winning Edge. It seemed like a formal way to do what I already loved. I was definitely interested. The more I learned about the program the more exited I became. When I heard the words “mentoring program” I figured it would be a way to facilitate a periodic meeting with a student to talk about their future. What impressed me the most is that Corinne, Maria, and the Winning Edge squad had come up with a comprehensive curriculum with a different topic for each month. Topics range from goal setting to networking to resume building. There’s even a reading list for personal and professional development.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the monthly meetings with my mentee, Ti’Tiannya Smith, a senior at Johnson C. Smith University. Seeing Ti’Tiannya’s drive and work ethic is energizing for me. She is currently taking more credits than I ever attempted in a single semester, while also being a manager for the women’s basketball team and working in the sports information department. I have been so impressed by the number of times I’ve made a suggestion to Ti’Tiannya about researching a graduate school, internship, or conference and she’s already two steps ahead of me. These are the types of people that we need in this business: those with the passion to work and the determination to dive in head first to whatever is presented to them. I know that Ti’Tiannya is going to achieve whatever she sets her mind to, and I hope to be a small part in opening doors for her and helping her reach her dreams.
I love being a part of the Winning Edge family, and when I say family I mean it. Although each mentor is paired with one student we also spend time together as a group. Whether it’s getting together for our Holiday Huddle or attending a student’s volleyball game our members have a team of people in their corner rooting on their success. Whenever a student in the Winning Edge accomplishes something I feel proud of them as if they’re my own. I am so honored to be part of this much-needed group and am immensely encouraged about what lies ahead for our game changers.