It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges upon the world. From losing jobs to losing loved ones, the pandemic has taught people how to endure adversity and expect the unexpected, being prepared for what is to come in the future and looking to take advantage of the new opportunities that come in everyday life.
While some people weren’t ready to face the adversity and challenges that came with COVID-19, director of basketball operations for the Gonzaga women’s basketball team Alexandria Young has been prepared to conquer it wherever she goes.
The San Diego resident was recently hired to the position in October and has familiarity with the West Coast Conference (WCC). Young was a player for the University of San Diego from 2013-2018, tearing her ACL three times in five years at the program. Riddled by three knee surgeries in five years, Young started to get into basketball from behind the scenes, picking up the logistics of basketball and gaining a better understanding of the sport she loved.
While in San Diego, Young was working a part-time job in downtown San Diego as a social media person at a senior living corporation called Pacifica, monitoring the social media platforms throughout each of the forms of housing throughout the cities associated with Pacifica. Although it was a job post-college, Young said she wanted to do something more exciting after transitioning from her days being a student-athlete.
USD head coach Sidney Fisher picked up on Young’s increased understanding of basketball, and with that, she informed Young of a position opened as a graduate assistant for the Fresno State women’s basketball team, resulting in Young taking the position. According to the Gonzaga women’s basketball website, while at Fresno State, Young served as an assistant to the recruiting coordinator, while also having to organize team travel, outreach programs, equipment exchange and video. Young also created graphics and videos for social media posts and recruiting.
Two years later, Young was hired at GU, and she said she wouldn’t be in the position she is in today without what she did previously.
“When my coach mentioned the graduate assistant position at Fresno State, I hopped on the opportunity,” Young said. “I’m very blessed obviously because it led me here.”
As a director of basketball operations, Young’s main task is to act as a communicator between different departments at GU and make sure everything is being run smoothly. From working with SIDs to sorting out travel scenarios to social media to food arrangements, Young is managing these different aspects in new ways due to COVID-19.
Young is also working to make sure compliance rules set by the NCAA are met, submitting a lot of forms to ARMS, a software that college athletes use to make sure all compliance rules and regulations are being met.
On top of all the tasks she is doing off the court, Young also serves to help on the court. Young helps draw plays on Fast Draw and teaches newcomers of the team the plays and the system, as well as posting post practice videos and post game videos for both the Zags and the away team. Head coach of GU women’s basketball Lisa Fortier even has Young participate in practice as a member of the team, and Young said the dynamic of working with Fortier is something she has never experienced before and made her even more excited to join the GU women’s basketball family.
“It’s interesting to see how each coach has their own little personal twist on certain things or certain particular areas that they’re concerned about,” Young said. “Being here with Lisa, I was in the very first practice, and I realized how personal [and] how into the drills [she was]. She’s out there rebounding while also coaching for the girls [which] is something that I hadn’t really seen.”
Fortier first found out about Young through head coach of Fresno State Jaime White. Fortier was an assistant on White’s staff when she was coaching at Colorado State. White gave Young a very high recommendation, and with Fortier having familiarity with Young through WCC play when GU would play USD, Fortier said Young was a perfect fit. Fortier said she liked that since Young was also from a military family, caring a lot about her work and a good background in doing things well.
“[Young] is just a good, easy fit for us” Fortier said. “Once we get to know the people who are interviewing, the fit becomes more important than some of those skill things.”
As the new director of basketball operations, Young’s main goal is to make sure the team solely focuses on playing basketball. With everything that comes with a collegiate basketball program with compliance, travel equipment and social media, Young said she wants to do everything she can to help the Zags have a successful season in that the team’s attention can just go toward what happens on the court.
Young said the main obstacle and challenge she sees in her new position is managing what is going to happen with the pandemic. Since there was no precedent to look upon for guidance, Young said this is a season and year other than any season before, and managing the unknowns that come with COVID-19 will be Young’s biggest challenge.
“Since this is the first time it’s ever happened, in terms of global scale, that’s the biggest challenge, at least for me and a lot for different universities as well,” Young said.
Detailed oriented, easygoing, knowledgeable and fun. All of these words that have no relation to what is going on right now with COVID-19 in the United States. However, those were the words Fortier used to describe Young, and with the promising prospect of what Young will do in the future for GU women’s basketball, Fortier’s description of Young can serve as a way to relate to how COVID-19 can begin to dwindle away.
Growing up, some of the biggest influences in Young’s life have been female leaders. As a woman, Young said she feels as if women second guess themselves more than men and doubt themselves in positions they are completely qualified for. She originally felt bad for having the position at such a young age, but soon realized she didn’t feel bad at all after seeing what she has done in the past and how it led her to this position today.
“There’s a man out there probably with half of my experiences, half my capabilities and skill level that’s probably a head coach somewhere,” Young said. “So, why am I feeling bad when I feel like I have the experience and capabilities to do this position?”
Young is only 24 years old and has been in the position for not even a month. However, if history continues to repeat itself, Young will continue to do what she has been doing her whole life: facing adversity head on and overcoming it through new opportunities, putting the GU women’s basketball organization in a great position going forward.