Katherine Brien, Executive Director with Basketball Nova Scotia, graduated from MSVU in 2010 with a BBA in Marketing. As an MSVU Women’s Basketball alum, she notes the University’s tight-knit athletics community as contributing to her personal and professional success.
“My memories as a student involve coming together with other athletes in the Business program,” she said. “Because of MSVU’s small class sizes, we ended up in the same courses and we stuck together and figured out how to navigate life, basketball and the classes we were in. We were all there for one another. Many of the people I met at MSVU are still close friends today, and people I call on for personal and professional advice.”
Prior to joining Basketball Nova Scotia, Katherine worked as the Manager, Community and Sport Partnerships with the Toronto Raptors, Maple Leafs and Toronto FC. She chose to move back to the Maritimes because she was looking to make an impact closer to home.
Invaluable life and career skills
Katherine values teamwork, collaboration and communication, and strives to bring these pillars into her style of leadership. “I think it’s important that people feel comfortable to make mistakes and to learn from them in order to grow. Having worked in the Athletics Department and in the daycare at the MSVU, I saw a positive model of how a team could work together and how things could run effectively. These experiences showed me that athletics was a place I could see myself. I learned the importance of good communication and relationship building. These are things that I have carried with me throughout my career.”
Motivation to succeed academically
And as Katherine reflects on her time as a student, she acknowledges how important basketball was in
keeping her engaged in her studies. “I was a pretty good student, but it was basketball that kept me motivated. I knew that if I wanted to play, I had to keep my grades up. If I wanted to be part of the athletics department, I had to be giving the same effort in the classroom as I was on the court. This was a main motivator for me, and I think it is for many other students” she said.
It is for this reason that Katherine feels strongly about giving back and supporting other young people to make the most of their university experience. “Supporting young people through sports keeps them around good people, in a good environment and surrounded by mentors,” she noted. “You learn so many intangible things when you are involved in sport, including accountability, teamwork, managing conflict and working with others to reach a common goal. A lot of people are not afforded the opportunity to be a part of a team and to learn these life lessons if they don’t receive support to be able to do this, which is why giving back is so important.”
Katherine is also quick to acknowledge the staff at MSVU who are supporting the leaders of tomorrow. “When you support the MSVU Athletics Department, you are also giving back to the people who are at the forefront of supporting athletes in becoming the best they can be. The staff in the Athletics Department at MSVU are a family, and the team is committed to the success of the students. June Lumsden, the Director, has built a family environment and has really helped to shape the program into what it is. There are so many people who have graduated from MSVU who’ve been involved in sport there and who are now in positions where they are paying it forward, applying what they learned, and helping other young people succeed. I think what has been built at the Mount goes above and beyond,” she said.
Supporting youth in sport at every level
Katherine feels passionately about supporting youth in sport at every level but believes that supporting athletes in post-secondary is a critical motivator in allowing them to reach their full potential. “For student-athletes, it is usually the first time they are living away from home and learning about their bodies, how to eat healthy and balance their time effectively,” she said. Being involved in sport and having support along the way keeps you accountable to more people than just yourself. These are important lessons to learn in life and only helps prepare people for the real-world.”
It is no doubt that Katherine’s journey as a varsity athlete has contributed to her success today. She continues to be a supporter of MSVU and is proud to call herself an alumni. “I encourage people to give or to continue giving to MSVU’s Athletics Department. We are supporting future leaders.”