Name: Le'Sheala DawsonSchool: Pepperdine University graduate school (Robert Morris University '07)Year: Second yearAge: 23Hometown: San Diego, Calif.Undergrad Major: Sport managementGrad Major: Human resource managementInternship: Five-Star Basketball, basketball operations internPaid/Unpaid: PaidSchool credit: NoHours: 8 a.m. -- 12 a.m.Duration: June 14 - August 28
A former basketball and volleyball player at Robert Morris University, Le'Sheala Dawson is applying what she's learned in the gym and classroom to her internship with Five-Star Basketball, an organization that hosts high school basketball camps up and down the East Coast. Dawson talks about being a woman in a man's world, meeting NBA players and dealing with language barriers and dentures.
As a basketball operations intern, what do you do?I do almost everything basketball related -- a little bit of coaching, refing and administrative stuff.
How did you get the job?I went to school at Robert Morris and that is where it is based. I applied the summer going into my senior year. My assistant coach was a coach there and he was telling me it was a good idea for me to do it.
Did you have any previous experience in the field?I helped out at the girls camps at RMU and then I ran the camps for the men's team, too. And then also, in San Diego, at Alliant (AIU), I helped out with basketball tournaments whenever I was home.
How long have you been playing basketball?For about 18 years.
Why is it so important to you?When my brother and I were younger it was like our escape. Our mom worked late so we went to the YMCA every day after school. Then we joined AAU basketball. It was something we needed since we didn't have a father. Growing up it has been a big part of my life and now I get to help kids. I can help give them advice on things that I was never told about -- like go take the SATs early. I want to be an example. I'm an African America woman. I didn't come from much, but I'm getting my degrees and doing something I love. If you work for it, you can get it.
Why did you pick this job?Because I can be in the gym all day, which I love, and build relationships. It's fun and it gives me satisfaction to be around basketball and the people I like. Eventually I want to do my own camps for girls and this way I get to see the ins and outs and see what to do and what not to do.
What was your first day like?It was so hectic. I was terrified. I had one of those bosses that never told me how to do anything. A "solve your own problems" type of boss. He just throws you in a situation and just sits there and watches. And, I was one of the only women. I had to learn the administrative stuff and pick it up quickly. I had to learn how to take orders from people and follow instructions. But after that, the next day was pretty easy.
What do you do on most days?I referee in the morning and do administrative things in the afternoon and go back to the office, and then I assist coaches with skill stations and then ref or coach games at night.
What's been the best part?Oh, traveling! Going to different universities. I get to go meet all of the coaches there and see a bunch of different cities that I have not been to. I'm also one of the only girls here, which is fun. I get all the attention.
Where have you been so far?Tallahassee, Philadelphia, the Bronx and Pittsburgh.
Any other perks?Food is taken care of, and so is room and board, flights and rental cars. Also, the connections and the relationships I build with everyone.
Have you met any famous people?Yes. I met Vince Carter, Ron Artest, and Tim Hardaway. Vince Carter came to speak at Pittsburgh. Ron Artest was in Homesdale, Penn. and he was actually playing and coaching. And Tim Hardaway was there just watching his son and interacting with everyone. They were all previous campers back in the day. Also, there have been some famous coaches, too. Pete Gillen (he coached at Virginia) and John Calipari, the coach from Memphis, spoke here last year. Howard Garfinkle is here all the time. He brings all the coaches in to watch during the live period. He really started the scouting in the East Coast. Basically if you want to know how good of a player someone is, then call him.
What's been the toughest part?The toughest part is the long hours because your body gets weary and it's hard to perform. Going to bed at 2 a.m. and waking up at 7:30 a.m. to go to breakfast by 8 a.m. It's tough.
Biggest downside?Sometimes it's unorganized. There's new staff at every site and they do it differently. The routine changes: dorm rules, dinner, check-in places. Basically it's new management wherever we go so we can't get used to things being done in a certain way.
What is most unique about your job?I'm a girl coaching men's teams. It's really never been done at Five-Star. Like two weeks ago, they needed a coach for the 8th grade and freshman team, and they didn't have anyone else. So they chose me and my team ended up winning the championship and then I coached the All-Star game.
Is this something you want to do in the future? If not, what do you want to pursue?My dream job is to be a D-I head basketball coach or to be the first girl to be a D-I men's assistant. I want to start my own basketball camp for girls. There's nothing like the ABCD Reebok Camp for girls.
Any funny stories from your experiences so far?A few weeks ago, there was a kid from the Dominican Republic who idolizes Kobe. He didn't speak any English. The only word he said was Kobe. So I'm referring his game and the whole time he's trying to yell at me to call fouls but he's using all these hand motions. He's lipping at me what he was trying to say because he couldn't complain in English.
Also, one of the counselors is old and he has false teeth and every dinner and lunch he takes them off and places them on his tray. Everyone gets disgusted. It's hilarious. He just pops them out in front of us.
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