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Rather than playing overseas during the first half of the WNBA offseason, Houston Comets guard Tamecka Dixon decided to start preparing herself for life after basketball by applying for an internship position with NBA Entertainment.
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Dixon, who was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks in the second round (14th overall) of the 1997 Draft back when she graduated college ten years ago, found the internship on a list provided by the WNBA and knew it was the right opportunity for her. She began the three month position two-and-a-half weeks ago. She works with the video editing department and production crews in a variety of capacities.
"I'm trying to get a better understanding for what I want to do in life after basketball." the three-time All-Star said from her makeshift desk at the NBA Entertainment offices in Secaucus, New Jersey. "I looked at a list of probably about 20 internships and of all of them I thought that NBA Entertainment is something that I'd have interest learning about,"
With some help from her friends and family, the 5-9 Kansas University graduate put together a resume and submitted it to the league. But creating a resume wasn't quite as easy as it sounded for Dixon considering her career history consists of playing basketball and not much else.
"It's interesting because I've been playing basketball all my life and really don't have any experience with anything else," Dixon said. "I really wanted to make my resume look nice, so I asked a bunch of people to help me out to get the whole process going."
So this fall, Dixon has gone from spending her days on the basketball court to clipping videos in an office for producers to use during NBA TV shows. For example, if a show highlights or mentions a certain WNBA or NBA player, she might have to cut clips from a previous game to use for the broadcast.
Just like many other professional athletes, Dixon is used to being featured on television and starring in front of the camera, not behind the scenes. But after a few weeks of working, observing and learning from the other employees, including her boss, producer Saudia Mitchell (who she considers the "Michael Jordan" of the office) Dixon has a newfound respect for what goes on behind the scenes and realizes just how hard the people who are not in the spotlight work.
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"We as athletes kind of take it for granted, and sometimes when we're asked to be mic'd and things like that, it's a hassle on our behalf," Dixon said. "But now if someone were to come ask me to be mic'd, I would understand what actually goes into all that stuff and would be happy to help."
Indeed, we are all a part of the bigger process.
And not only is the internship a great opportunity to start a new career or help determine what the next step might be, but it is also a great way for the New Jersey native to stay close to home and spend time with friends and family. With her busy WNBA schedule and overseas trips, it is rare that Dixon is able to spend an extended amount of time at her home in Westfield, New Jersey, which is located about 20 miles from NBA TV and NBA.com headquarters.
Dixon has played overseas six times during her ten-year career and plans on playing another one or two seasons abroad before her retirement. But as she moves towards the end of her basketball career, she knows that now is as good a time as ever to explore other careers.
"It's definitely an experience that I would recommend to anybody who aspires to learn more and explore whatever they want to be and do after basketball, so life after basketball for me is important now that I'm coming towards the end of my career."
Once the internship is complete, Dixon will spend the remainder of the offseason in either Spain or Italy before joining the Houston Comets for her second consecutive season with the team. In the meantime, she will be stuck in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike several times a week and eat in the company cafeteria just like the rest of us. And thoroughly enjoy herself.
Tamecka Dixon has averaged 10.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 286 games while playing for the Los Angeles Sparks and Houston Comets. Last season, the 2001 All-WNBA second team member averaged 7.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists.