“When I was a kid, I wanted to be an NBA player,” said Boston Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson in an interview with Babson Athletics. “At the time, there wasn’t a WNBA, there weren’t many women’s professional sports … there were very few women in society making a living for being an athlete. … (But) I just loved basketball.”
This love would lead her to play for the University of Tennessee, where she earned all-conference honors in each of her four seasons, and then on to 13 WNBA seasons, averaging nearly 10 points per game with the Sacramento Monarchs, Connecticut Sun, and Washington Mystics.
In 2008, Lawson won a gold medal with Team USA at the Beijing Olympics.
In June of this year, Lawson was named assistant coach of the Boston Celtics, joining just a handful of other female coaches in the NBA.
Lawson came to Babson as part of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week as a shining example of the impact and potential of women disruptors in any industry.
An Industry Turnover
“I played with the guys at recess when I was in 2nd and 3rd grade … and beat them all,” shared Lawson. “So, why when I got older, wouldn’t I be able to just do the same and play in the NBA? The goal was always just to play as long as I could.”
When asked what she would say to a young girl who wants to follow in her footsteps, her response was simple: “Great, do it,” she said.
“I think everyone feels that the tide is turning, not just in basketball, but in professional sports. That little girl that comes up to me today is going to have a better opportunity, a greater chance … the ability to take it farther than I have because that’s kind of how you hope society evolves as you get older. The generation behind you has a chance to do even more,” said Lawson.
But, with disruption, comes responsibility. Lawson takes this on with great discipline.
“I do feel (that) I have a responsibility to perform well because there still are more women worthy of the opportunity that I have, that haven’t been given it yet,” she said. “The way I think you help do that is, you succeed, and you perform well, and you bring value … hopefully that example shows other teams not just in the NBA, in other sports, that having a woman on your coaching staff is something that really adds to the success of your organization.”
Video courtesy of Babson Athletics.