I’ve heard plenty of stories about people who have quit their jobs and moved to New York. No money, no plan, no job, slept in a closet, ate ramen noodles every night, etc, etc. You know, the usual big city dreams type story.
It’s funny because I’ve always thought those people are crazy. But also…that sounds like something I would actually do.
Well, I actually did it! Yes, small town kid from Kentucky, who historically has hated New York, moved to New York.
But before you think…this girl is nuts, let me explain. Although it may be small... I do have a room, and a job, and somewhat of a plan! However, I can’t guarantee I won’t eat a large amount of ramen noodles.
Yes…I will admit, I’ve been known to make some spontaneous, spur of the moment, seat of my pants-type decisions. But this is not one of them (I’m mature now)! This was a well calculated plan…but it took many small steps to make it happen.
So, I’ll start from the beginning.
6 months ago, I was struggling with a major decision - Do I have another surgery?
I ultimately decided yes, but with that came many other important decisions I had to make.
Where do I have the surgery? Do I still try to play basketball? Where should I rehab? Do I go back to Duke? Do I stay in Atlanta? Where do I live? How do I make money? How do I get a job? Is it all even worth it? I hate making decisions, and as I’m getting older, I’ve quickly realized ADULT LIFE is all about decisions. EEK. Talk about stressful.
Slowly but surely things started to come together. But not easy, mind you. I literally had a notebook of pros & cons, decision trees, scribbles, you name it.
My poor mother is typically the recipient of all my worries, concerns, life crises, etc. She hears it all and is my go-to for any and all advice.
I remember distinctively calling her one day back in August while I was in New York.
I had just come from meeting a Doctor and had finally decided I wanted him to do the surgery with him in New York. Now I just had to figure out if I wanted to do my rehab back at Duke or in Atlanta where I was currently living. I’ve always said I hated New York so it wasn’t even a thought. Crowded, dirty, rude people, no trees? Neh, doesn't sound like my style.
At Duke I had all the amenities in the world for a successful recovery, but in Atlanta I had an incredible work opportunity I didn’t want to leave behind.
Me - “Mom, I can’t decide whether to do rehab in Durham or Atlanta so I have a new idea… What do you think about New York?
Mom – “Hmmm...I like it. Move to New York”
Boom. Seed Planted. That’s all I needed, mom’s green light.
Once I get an idea (and some validation behind it) I’m all in. I just had to find a way to make it happen.
My thought process behind the decision:
A) I could do rehab with the amazing team who performed my surgery, get elite physical therapy, no regrets.
Okay great… now I just have to figure out steps B, C, and D aka where to work, where to train and oh yeah where to live! Okay this might take some time… BUT, I’d find a way.
In the meantime, I had the surgery, rehabbed in Atlanta, continued working for the Atlanta Hawks and made trips back to NY routinely for checkups. Loved it! But still had my move to New York idea in the back of my mind.
Fast forward a couple months. I’m back in New York for a follow up appointment.
I’m hanging in Central Park one day killing time when I see Chris Hyppa’s (NBA Skills Trainer) post on his insta story.
“In NYC for a few days and need some help with workouts. DM me if interested!”
Hmm… I’m currently in NYC… killing time, what the heck.
*Slides in DMs*
Me - “Hey Chris, I’m around if you need me”
Chris – “Cool, meet me at the NBPA in 2 Hours”
Me – Okay, cool see ya there.
I’m in jeans and booties, but have tennis shoes and a Duke Tee in my purse. Don’t ask me why... but LET’S GO!
I immediately hop in a cab to the Nike store, buy way too expensive basketball shorts and head to the NBPA.
I arrive, get on the elevator and J.J. Reddick steps on…he sees the Duke tee, I get the head nod.
I think to myself…Ok, this is casual so far.
For those who don’t know, the NBPA is the National Basketball Players Association. It’s the union for all current professional basketball players in the NBA. The NBPA is responsible for the CBA, players marketing rights, player programs and many other amazing things that helps protect and amplify the experience of an NBA player. The office is in Midtown Manhattan and is pretty much a resource/training facility/soho house for players. There’s a full court, weight rooms, skills trainers, lounge, recording studio, you name it and a lot of guys train there throughout the year.
Back to the story – I end up helping Chris train a couple guys for the week.
By train I’m literally rebounding and passing for player workouts. Not the most glamourous, but a pretty cool experience to be on one end of the court when J.J. Reddick and Chris Paul are getting a workout on the other end.
This got me thinking... What is this place and how can I work here?
I didn’t know the answer, but I showed up every day, threw the crispest chest passes I could, channeled my inner @JohnClarke and rebounded the ball like I’d been a manager my whole life.
I’m used to being on the receiving end of those crisp passes but I didn’t care because in return I made some great connections, met some awesome people and somehow got invited to the VMA After Party where I met Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus (that’s a whole other story).
Long story short, sliding in the DMs was a great decision.
Back in Atlanta, I continued my routine. Rehab, work for the Hawks, train kiddos, broadcasting, etc. The usual, overextend myself schedule.
While I was still locked in on my New York idea, I didn’t have a good enough reason to leave my current situation to move to NY without a job. Now that’s what those crazy people do I referred to in my opening paragraph… I’m mature remember??
So, I kept plugging away - scheming, plotting, thinking of ideas to make the move worth it.
At one point I event contemplated taking up bar tending. "Mixology for Dummies" was in my shopping cart online. Not kidding.
I didn't end up going forth with it so instead each trip I made back to New York to see my doctor and PT, I made an effort to set up meetings and informational interviews with different people in the sports industry. Listened, learned, asked questions, etc.
At times it was exhausting but eventually, it worked out… the way I wanted.
Fast forward to January. On a Thursday, I get an email from someone at the NBPA asking if I wanted to interview for their Grassroots Basketball & Events internship.
Um, yes please.
That following Tuesday, I fly to New York in the morning, interview in the afternoon, and fly back to Atlanta that night.
The next week I got the job offer.
And now here I am one week down living in the Big Apple!
A whirlwind of events to say the least.
I’m leaving out a lot, but the moral of the story is, big ideas don’t just happen. It takes persistence, hustle, grunt work and sometimes just flat out luck. BUT, if you want plan A bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to make steps B-D work.
A lot of moving parts had to come together to make this move happen, but so far I'm very happy they did.
I’ve already taken the subway the wrong direction multiple times, almost been hit by a few taxis, and have spent way too much money but other than that I’d say I'm adjusting quite well!
Give me a few weeks, and I'll blend in just fine!