Few things in this world ignite my passions more than examples of girl power or people stepping up to help New Orleans become the best version of itself. These two goals fabulously collided, recently, when Basketball Hall of Fame girl boss Nancy Lieberman – whom you see as an analyst for the New Orleans Pelicans on Fox Sports’ pre and post-game shows – generously joined forces with my foundation, Sideline Pass, to educate one of New Orleans’ best and brightest.
Nancy has won gold medals as a premier point guard, excelled in the national broadcast booth as a basketball analyst, plus coached in the G League, WNBA, Big 3 and NBA. (Yes, that means she’s successfully guided professional women and MEN!) Nancy exemplifies the concept of shattering glass ceilings – many of them, not just one. First, this girl boss was the youngest basketball player in Olympic history to medal when Team USA captured Silver at the 1976 Games in Montreal. Later, Nancy became the oldest player in the WNBA at age 39, then again at 50. Now, Nancy is the reigning BIG 3 Coach of the Year, after leading her all-male team to the championship title.
Nancy is also a fervent philanthropist, intent on sending the ladder back down. She lives in Dallas and spearheads Nancy Lieberman Charities, a group dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles and educational opportunities for children. Nancy’s foundation normally awards ten, $10,000 college scholarships to worthy student athletes from Texas, but this year, she decided to give one of those scholarships to a New Orleans recipient.
“We chose to include someone from New Orleans because of the relationship I’ve built with the Pelicans and their fans the past two years,” Nancy says. “I’m proud to be Sideline Pass’ sister in giving others an opportunity to change their lives.”
The inaugural Nancy Lieberman College Scholarship is indeed life-changing for one of Sideline Pass’ young student athletes: Cohen High School senior, India Morris. The National Honor Society member is number one in her graduating class, a two-year letterman on the cross-country team and a four-year starter for the girls’ basketball team – leading Cohen to two consecutive District Championships.
India plans to use the Nancy Lieberman Charities College Scholarship to study psychology, as science has always been one of her favorite subjects. “I’m interested in becoming a neuropsychologist because I enjoy learning about how the human mind works,” India says. “I also want the chance to make a positive impact in people’s lives. Neuropsychologists assess and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They evaluate and study how brain illnesses impact the way a person might behave.”
India’s road hasn’t been an easy one, but her mom Demetra, a single parent, taught India how to fight and survive. Demetra is India’s biggest cheerleader in all things, including her daughter’s dream of earning a doctorate degree to help heal the problems they both see unfolding in New Orleans’ under-served areas.
“I want to go back into my community and help change the negative images and stereotypes that are portrayed there,” India says. “Mental health issues are something that often go unaddressed in communities of color and lead to many of the problems we see in cities such as New Orleans. I want to give kids here a chance to flourish into successful and well-rounded individuals.”
To me, India and Nancy exemplify all of what a healthy mind, body and spirit look like. I know New Orleans joins me in thanking Nancy for her generosity and wishing India the best in her upcoming collegiate studies! Girl power is an awesome thing, y’all!