Building Relationships Through Common Experiences

Although coaching was not in her original game plan, Graduate Kinesiology alumna Lisa O’Meara has made her way onto the sideline as part of the Gaels’ Women’s Basketball coaching staff for the fourth consecutive season. Today, Lisa enjoys the privilege of mentoring current Graduate Kinesiology student and fifth year player, Devon Brookshire. Through their common experiences on and off the court the two are building a strong relationship and a foundation for future success. We had a chance to catch up with Lisa and Devon where both shared about their individual experiences and their relationship as not only coach and player but also as alumna and current student.

Lisa O'Meara, Class of 2012:

Lisa O'Meara

Why did you choose the Saint Mary's College Graduate Kinesiology program?

A former high school teacher of mine who had gone through the Saint Mary's program recommended that I take a look. When I returned to campus and met with the Graduate Program Director at the time, Bill Manning, I knew this is where I wanted to be.

What did you enjoy most about Saint Mary's College?

Having attended Saint Mary's for one year as a freshman, Saint Mary's was a home away from home. I love the campus and getting to know everyone.

What were your goals after completing your Master's?

I was interested in working in athletics, but didn't have a specific goal in mind.

When entering the Graduate Kinesiology program some students might not have a specific goal in mind either. How did the unique coursework offered in the graduate program help prepare you for a career in athletics?

I thought the coursework complimented my undergraduate management degree. The class discussions and group projects were helpful in learning other perspectives and points of view. In my experience, working with others, listening with an open mind, and effectively communicating are critical skills to success. The Master of Arts in Kinesiology program definitely prepared me for this through a variety of classes and outside of classroom discussions. I really appreciated and learned a lot from the cohort I went through the program with.

The sports industry is relatively small, making networking and mentorship a key to success in the business. What is it like to have the opportunity to mentor student-athletes, like Devon Brookshire, who are currently going through the Kinesiology program?

It's always great to share that common experience with our student-athletes. I think it's encouraging on both ends to have someone to discuss topics with. The curriculum is applicable and the experience is well worth the work it takes to complete the degree. I was excited when Devon chose the Master of Arts in Kinesiology program for graduate school. She wants to coach and is eager to learn. I've enjoyed having discussions with Devon about what she's learning and the big picture.

Since Devon has an interest in coaching what advice would you give her and other individuals interested in coaching professionally?

I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time when I was at Saint Mary's. When looking for coaching positions it's important, if you are able, to know the people you are going to be working with every day and hopefully their values align with yours. The other side of coaching is applying your philosophy. The Saint Mary's Master of Arts in Kinesiology program helped me form my personal coaching philosophy, but it is something that will always continue to evolve to some degree. As a coach I am constantly evaluating myself for better or worse, and trying to learn and grow. Some advice that I am trying to follow is to not compromise my character and the principles I coach by, but continue to develop a winning philosophy and positively impact the lives of those I coach.

Devon & LisaFinally, what are some songs that would appear on your pregame playlist today?

I'm not a big music person and I believe your mind reflects what you feed it. I could probably read some motivational notes or a good book before a game.

In closing, Lisa added, "I am very grateful for the opportunities Saint Mary's has given me on a variety of levels. I am also very fortunate to have people in my life that have helped me along the way, given me a chance, and taken the time to mentor me. My time at Saint Mary's as a student and now as a coach and resident director on campus has been the best time of my life. No doubt it has been the people that have made it great."

Devon Brookshire, Class of 2017:

Why did you choose the Saint Mary's College Graduate Kinesiology program?

I chose the Graduate Kinesiology program because I eventually want to pursue a career in coaching and I felt the program would offer the opportunity to expand my knowledge of athletics. I can relate the curriculum in a coaching perspective that builds upon my experience as a player. Also, the fact that I am able to complete the Master of Arts in Kinesiology in 14 months while finishing my final year of eligibility made it the perfect choice.

What do you enjoy most about Saint Mary's College?

I love the small class sizes because they allow you to form relationships with the professors as well as get to know your classmates. The coursework also forces you to be an active participant in the classroom which I believe greatly enhances the learning experience. I also love all the deer on campus!

What do you plan to accomplish after completing your Master's?

Following this year, I plan on playing professional basketball overseas. When my playing career is over, I want to go into collegiate coaching, eventually becoming a head women's basketball coach at the Division I level.

How is the unique coursework offered in the graduate program helping prepare you for your future as a Division I basketball coach?

It has given a great perspective on everything you must take into account when becoming a coach. My first day in the summer we were asked to write down our coaching philosophy and it was such a neat way to start because it made me reflect on all my experiences and try to mesh them into a coherent philosophy. This fall taking law and human motor performance was interesting because in one class, I was learning about the legalities of social media policies, while in the other I was learning about the most effective ways to produce learning through practice plans. I also got a great “behind the scenes” experience working with Mark Papadopoulos (class of 2000) for my internship. He was able to show me the administrative side of coaching, while also teaching me about some of the facilities and operations management in collegiate athletics. I enjoy the wide range of subjects and experiences because I am receiving a well-rounded education that will definitely aid me in the future.

Devon Brookshire for 2!How has Assistant Coach and Graduate Kinesiology alumna, Lisa O'Meara, aided in your success on the court and in the classroom?

Lisa has been a great resource on the court and in the classroom. On the court, she is patient and brings a positive presence that is a great asset to all the players. Off the court, we have academic meetings and now they are especially fun because Lisa has taken most of the classes I am in. It's nice to talk with someone who has been through the Graduate Kinesiology program and can offer some advice on their experiences. We've also started a miniature book club, which mostly consists of me borrowing some of her books that are sport-related and discussing them. Starting the Graduate Kinesiology program has definitely strengthened our relationship which has been fantastic.

What advice would you give an undergraduate interested in playing another year as a graduate student?

Being able to obtain a second degree while completing your eligibility is an amazing opportunity. I would say to make sure that you truly are passionate about your sport and the Master's you are working towards. It can be challenging at times because you're straddling the line between being a student and professional. You spend half your day with 18 to 22 year olds and the other half with full-functioning adults, most with full-time jobs, some with kids. It's an interesting dichotomy, but I feel so lucky to have this chance to play another year of collegiate basketball and participate in a program that will help set me up for the future.

Finally, who are some of the artists or what are some of the songs on your pregame playlist?

Well, my favorite artist is Taylor Swift, so she makes a few appearances, but I listen to a wide variety of songs to get me ready for game time. Right now, I really like The Greatest by Sia and Rise by Katy Perry.