Kia Vaughn on NGWSD

What is your favorite aspect about playing professional basketball and being a role model for young girls that participate sports?

Being a professional athlete is a blessing. It's the rewarding level of working so hard at your craft and gift. What I hope to teach younger girls is believe in yourself and working hard helps you reach levels you may dream about today, but can become your reality tomorrow.

What was your most memorable experience as a female athlete in college?

My most memorable experience in college was my entire sophomore year. The year, my teammates and I started off horrible! Losing games by 50, losing our locker room and uniforms. Coach Vivian Stringer losing all faith in us and us not being able to figure out why we couldn't win a game. It started off as one of the hardest years of my career but ended bitter sweet. Surrounded by great teammates and being coached by a wonderful, hard-nosed coach a season that looked like one we wanted to quickly get through and over, becomes a season a nation talks about and we will never forget. After a slow start, we fought hard and made it into the NCAA tournament. Being placed in a bracket where we weren't favorable to win a game. We swept through our bracket and beat the team that smacked us by 50 in the regular season and went on to play in the National Championship game!!!!!!

A season that looked as though we wouldn't go far, we were now on the biggest stage of college basketball. Couldn't have been more excited and blessed about changing our year around. Playing in that game was worth all the pain, sweat and tears. We came, we saw but we didn't conquer :( .Although we fell short at the end, we didn't let that take away from how far we've come. But little did we know, our celebration would be cut short! Arriving to school to celebrate with family, friends and fans we were ambushed by media about something that had nothing to do with basketball. My teammates and I were belittled by a TV personality and little did he know, he ruined a special day for us. Took away all the positive attention we should of been getting about how we overcame all the hurdles during our season and rained on our parade!

Although the focus shifted, Coach Stringer showed us why we are the women/players we are today. Taking something negative and making it positive. Teaching us how to stand strong in a crazy world. Overcoming adversity!! Never allow others to dictate our happiness. This affected us beyond basketball. A light was shined on us as women and African Americans. A year I will never forget.

How have the implications of Title IX positively affected you or someone you know?

Title IX affects all female athletes. It gives us the opportunity to participate in sports which allows us to go to school and get an education while doing something we love and are good at. Having the opportunity to play a sport and get a degree is a blessing.