TCU

TCU’s Okonkwo setting herself up for monumental success both on and off basketball court

Last week, TCU’s Amy Okonkwo (right) was selected to be one of 15 student-athletes to travel to the NCAA Convention in Orlando to participate in the Autonomy governance process and vote on a variation of NCAA rule-change proposals.
Last week, TCU’s Amy Okonkwo (right) was selected to be one of 15 student-athletes to travel to the NCAA Convention in Orlando to participate in the Autonomy governance process and vote on a variation of NCAA rule-change proposals. AP

With over 1,000 career points and a Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year award to her name, TCU senior forward Amy Okonkwo has more than made a name for herself on the hardwood.

But she recently reminded us of a simple mindset: It’s much bigger than basketball.

Last week, Okonkwo was selected to be one of 15 student-athletes to travel to the NCAA Convention in Orlando to participate in the Autonomy governance process and vote on a variation of NCAA rule-change proposals.

There will be 80 voting members that range from the Big 12, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC that consider 11 proposals, including mental health services and the role of agents in assisting student-athletes with career planning and decision making.

Through her outspoken personality of wanting to make an impact, Okonkwo was chosen through TCU’s Student Advisory Council for this opportunity.

“I don’t think a lot of people are aware of the impact you can make through SAC,” she said. “It was an incredible opportunity to represent other student-athletes across the nation with my voice.”

In past autonomy sessions, representatives have passed reforms to help student-athletes succeed in college and in life, in areas such-as time balance, scholarship protections, cost of attendance, concussion protocol and student-athlete welfare.

But Okonkwo wants more.

On Thursday, she was accepted into the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association “So You Want To Be A Coach” program. Okonkwo will have an opportunity to participate in a three-day workshop on April 3-5 in Tampa Bay, Fla.

When asked about coaching qualities that she believes in, Okonkwo said, “I have this mindset that my ideal coach needs to think ‘not yet,’ they have to have a growth mindset. You may not have done it this year, but you’re not done yet. Not, ‘you’re never going to get there,’ but you will get there and it’s all about the growth and that process.”

Okonkwo is one of 60 student-athletes chosen, and one of 12 from a Power 5 program to be accepted into the program.

“She takes advantage of every opportunity,” TCU head coach Raegan Pebley said. “And I tell her all the time, ‘Amy you are going to be able to do it all, just not today.’ But what she does is gets as much experience as she can in a lot of things and squeezes as much juice out of this opportunity of being a student-athlete as she possibly can.”

The objectives of the program is to increase the understanding and application of skills necessary to secure coaching positions in women’s basketball. Objectives include introducing female basketball players to coaches and administrators, and raise awareness of the existing talent pool of female basketball players who have a passion and interest in coaching the game.

Balancing these opportunities and still competing at a high-level is a mindset Okonkwo has embraced.

“Her and I share a very similar viewpoint, and vision,” Pebley said. “That this program isn’t mine, it isn’t hers, its TCU’s and we’re borrowing it while we’re here and it’s our job to make it better. So one day when we have to give it back it’s in better shape than we got it and Amy finds ways to make that happen.”

Trying not to think too far in advance, Okonkwo expressed her passion for basketball and wanting to prolong her career for as long as she can.

“I do want to pursue a professional playing career,” said Okonkwo. “Whether it’s the WNBA or overseas, that’s something I’ve always dreamed of.”

But as for now, TCU will continue to make its push in the Big 12 and, hopefully, an NCAA Tournament appearance.

When asked about what the future entails, whether it’s the WNBA, coaching or being involved at TCU, Okonkwo without hesitation reflected, “All the above.”

“I can do it all... I think,” she said.

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