Jr. NBA Court of Leaders development program building mentorship bonds
When high school student-athlete Jaloni Cambridge and associate director of NBA marketing partnerships and media planning Mikaela Campbell were asked about their role models, their responses were unanimous. “My mother.”
The young women sprung from the qualities their mothers instilled in them throughout their upbringing, emphasizing sacrifice, courage and strength.
Cambridge and Campbell’s paths crossed when the second cohort of the Jr. NBA Court of Leaders announced an educational trip to Washington DC in November. The two discovered that they had a lot in common, just as their answers indicated.
As a result, a mentor-mentee relationship flourished.
“There’s really nothing to explain, it’s just that the connection was there from the jump,” Cambridge told NBA.com of his early interactions with Campbell. “I’m just blessed to be a part of his life, and I’m happy to be a part of his life.”
Their relationship continued to grow over the following weeks. From this immersive trip to Washington D.C. — which included tours of the White House, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum — to virtual meetings focused on leadership, decision-making decision, mental well-being and civic engagement, their time together fostered a friendship.
Mentoring has become reciprocal.
“I don’t think Jaloni knows that she inspires me too,” Campbell said.
What really stood out to the young mentor was not just the way Cambridge behaved, but the way she treated others.
“To see how she is with her teammates and her friends is amazing,” Campbell said. “You can tell they’re watching her. You can tell they want to watch over her too. It’s not just ‘Jaloni, the team captain’ or ‘Jaloni, the star player’, it’s really ‘Jaloni’ – who I can trust, who I can rely on. I think that’s really inspiring.
The relationship between the two young women exemplifies one of the key benefits of the mentor-mentee pairing, which has remained fundamental to the success of the Jr. Court of Leaders.
“This program is about the holistic development of young leaders, which is why we seek to identify mentors who are passionate about helping young men and women excel as leaders in their communities, whatever path they take. in life,” said Candice Haynes, head of the NBA’s National Young Player Development Program.
For Jaloni, it goes beyond the basketball court. While the two-time FIBA USA gold medalist is attracting interest from some of the country’s top women’s basketball programs, her career goals include entrepreneurship and design, areas where Campbell, other NBA employees and the program’s guest speakers can provide insight into his thoughts on his career. opportunities on the road.
“We want our members to feel fully immersed in the Jr. NBA Court of Leaders and have the support of the wider NBA family,” Haynes said. “Having a mentor who is truly invested in their development and who can help guide them is one of the many key benefits of the program.
“Because mentors work in basketball – and many of them have played basketball themselves in high school, college, or professional – they can relate to what their mentees are going through in as elite young athletes in a way few people can,” Haynes said.
January was National Mentoring Month, but the mentor-mentee relationship doesn’t stop. It doesn’t end with the program either. In fact, the goal is to establish a system of support and companionship throughout life.
“It was great to see the mentors from the first Jr. NBA Court of Leaders cohort form real bonds and stay connected with their mentees as they transition through college and continue to pursue their passions off the court” , Haynes said. . “We expect that to continue with this group.”
That’s the ultimate goal for couples like Cambridge and Campbell, whose careers continue to grow by supporting each other.
Just as they looked up to their mothers throughout their teenage years, they said they hoped their youngsters themselves would look up to who they are now as role models.
“I think younger I would be surprised where I am [and] very excited to know where things ended,” Campbell said.
For Cambridge, she strives to inspire the young people in her life, as Campbell does for her. Considering she’s still just a junior in high school, she’s just getting started.