Sparks Team President Kristin Bernert Talks Hoops
A-GAME: First and foremost, the question on everybody’s mind… what is with the hair?
KB: What are you talking about??? That was SO in at the time!
A-GAME: What influenced your decision to go to Siena College and also to play basketball?
KB: Before I visited Siena, I had only left the state of Ohio a few times, and all trips were south (Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina). This was my first trip to the northeast. I loved it. I already knew that Siena had a strong academic reputation, and I was really high on the coaching staff, so once I saw the campus and the surrounding area and met my new teammates, it was a done deal. The decision to play basketball? That was easy. I had my education paid for, and it's the greatest game in the world.
A-GAME: How has being on the basketball team at Siena helped in your professional development?
KB: Coach Gina Castelli always talked about the values of hard work and teamwork. If you walked into our lockerroom, you knew that those were the priorities. They were reinforced every day. To this day, as the staff here can attest to, those are priorities that I've carried with me. If you're a great teammate and you give maximum effort, you will be successful in your career.
A-GAME: What was the best thing about being part of that team?
KB: Siena is a special place, and Coach Castelli made the team environment reflect the values of the College. To this day, the best thing about being part of the Siena basketball team was my teammates. Many of us are still close friends to this day. Liz Lops, Lisa Sera"three"no," Aleah Marzug - and even now that we've "grown up" Coach Collins, Coach Woodbury, and Coach Castelli. I'd count them as teammates, too.
A-GAME: Are there things you learned while playing that you use in your day to day life?
KB: Yes. I was a point guard. I placed a high value on making my teammates better and on getting the team to perform, overall, at its best. I've continued to measure myself that way. If I make everyone around me better and the organization is thriving, I've done my job.
A-GAME: What does "Team" mean to you?
KB: Team means we're in it together. It means that we all have a responsibility to one another to perform at our personal bests. It means that if someone is having a bad day or is struggling, as a teammate you pick them up. It means that there's open communication without judgment. It means that we're all working toward the same goals.
A-GAME: On a side note, what are your plans for the Sparks?
KB: We have a lot of plans. We have simple goals. But from a broad perspective, this is America's Team in the WNBA. We have an incredible opportunity in front of us to take what other sports leagues have learned over the decades of their existence and apply them, if appropriate, while setting a new path for women's sports. We're in the midst of creating a new way to consume sports. The WNBA is participatory, it's a community, and it's affordable. Especially in the new American economics that are unfolding before our eyes right now, that's an advantage. Now, it's up to us to bring that to the forefront.
A-GAME: What specifically will you fall back on from your playing days to make your goals for the Sparks organization happen?
KB: Again, hard work, team work, and focus will make it happen. Having good court vision helps - and putting people in positions where they can succeed (i.e. make the basket) is essential. This is why basketball is the greatest game in the world, right, A-game?
Without a doubt basketball is the greatest game in the world. With “The Playmaker” running the show and “A-Game” on the wing, the other league offices better start recruiting or watch out.