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Despite the challenges, it is important to turn off the noise, stay focused and stay the course. Never allow outsiders to derail you from attaining your goal.

Wendy Sparks

Host

Court-Side Moms

× The interview with Wendy Sparks was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

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1Tell us about your Court-Side Moms podcast. What went into creating it and how did it come to fruition?

Court-Side Moms was birthed one day over a conversation that occurred at lunch.

I shared my thoughts, my passion and ideas that I had been thinking about for years.

As my son and I were going through our journey, I felt that fans knew players as athletes but nothing else.

I was compelled to create a platform for other moms to share their stories and talk about how they raised their kids and what route they had to take that led them to later play professional basketball.

Together with Tidal League, my dream of creating Court-Side Moms turned into a reality.

2You dedicate the Court-Side Moms podcasts to the mothers of professional basketball players - as you should! What are some of the biggest take-aways from the other moms so far?

At the end of each episode, I ask the moms, If they could give one piece of advice to another Court-Side Mom what would it be! A few of the takeaways that I’ve learned are:

  • No matter how hard the grind is, you have to keep pushing because the pool of players is plentiful but the selection to play is few.
  • Never be too proud to ask for help.
  • Ask the right questions, but make sure you are asking the right people as that can be the difference between playing Professional basketball and not playing at all.
  • Don’t be that parent that knows everything and nothing at the same time! Let the professionals help you, but keep a very close watch on what they do for your child.
  • Research the people around you as they may not have the same agenda as you.
  • Prior to hiring an agent, call the NBPA and have them vetted. A reputable agent would encourage you to do so.

I can go on and on as there are so many things to learn about raising a professional athlete but I hope this list helps as many parents and athletes as possible.

3Part of the podcast is to discuss the reality of raising high performance athletes. You raised Toronto Raptor, Khem Birch, tell us a little bit about your personal experience!

Once it became apparent that Khem was considered a high-performance athlete, I did not skip a beat to find out as much as I could about the basketball industry. 

My resources were limited at best and I had to sift through the information that I was fed and make tough decisions about how to get him in front of those who could develop him good enough to be noticed at the next level!

I didn’t stop until I found good teams for him to play on and took him to as many tournaments and elite showcases as possible and found him schools that needed his talent on their roster. 

He played NCAA ball at The University of Pittsburgh and then at UNLV where he became the number one player. In 2014, he decided that he wanted to enter the draft but on draft night, despite all of his college success, his name was never called.

Khem went undrafted. As devastating as it was, it certainly was a humbling moment and a time to reflect, reset and rethink the strategy and path to get him to the NBA which is where he is today.

His journey went from playing in the D-League (at that time), to overseas in Turkey and Greece and then to the NBA!!

His journey tells me that NOTHING is impossible.

4You have years of experience in marketing, sales, and customer service. How has your past experiences helped you create such an amazing podcast?

My life skills are essential to the podcasts success.

The idea of telling our stories to the world may sound natural but in reality, I still have to create a welcoming environment for all my guests, so that they feel comfortable on the platform.

I proudly stand by our team at Tidal League when we release the finished product to the world.

5Something I love about your podcast is that you keep it real. You don’t only talk about the luxury and joy, but also discuss the challenges. If you could go back and tell yourself 1 thing before entering this experience, what would it be?

This is a great question. I say that because almost everything we do in life is trial and error but our day-to-day experiences teach us what we need to know! 

I entered this journey blindly; it's not like there were many 6’6 teenagers roaming the city of Montreal playing basketball and were highly recruited by many programs and schools in North America, so I did not have many “valid” local resources to turn to for answers.

I did learn, however, to not be afraid to ask questions.

If I could go back, I would tell myself to research the people who are trying to enter my son’s circle as everyone has an agenda and it may not necessarily line up with his.

6Lastly, as someone who’s spent a lot of time in the professional sport environment, what advice do you have for aspiring athletes or sport business professionals?

The advice that I would like to give everyone in the sports industry is as follows:

  • Trust the Process, everything happens in its rightful time.
  • Enjoy your journey. Every day is a new day and be proud of what you accomplish!
  • Despite the challenges, it is important to turn off the noise, stay focused and stay the course. Never allow outsiders to derail you from attaining your goal.
  • Know your worth!!! Believe in yourself. Others can’t if you don’t!!!

Emma Greer Emma's Final Thoughts

Wendy Sparks, Court-Side Moms Podcast Host, is incredibly inspiring. She created the podcast with support from Tidal League, with the hopes to show basketball fans the joys, challenges and all that comes with raising a high-performance athlete. She mentions that athletes are often seen as just that, athletes, and nothing else, so it was important to her to share a different perspective into their lives. Wendy shines a light on the experiences of the moms of our favourite basketball players and provides some advice for aspiring athletes and their families. The Court-Side Moms podcast keeps it real and is not only entertaining but extremely motivational. No matter who you are and what your journey is, there's some great advice to be found in each episode. My biggest takeaway from Wendy's interview was that everything will happen as it should when it should. Hard work and dreams coupled with goals will get you exactly where you're supposed to be!

Connect With Wendy Sparks


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