Today we’d like to introduce you to Tricia Monique and Coach Mike.
Tricia and Coach Mike, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
It’s one of those love and basketball stories, but not really lol. He was a basketball player just finishing up college, and I had started working in hospitality & entertainment. We were neighbors; He made the first move, and we started dating. Coach Mike, a Chicago native, didn’t really have a basketball dream but he was really good at it. I saw that in him as well as others, and so we decided together to do whatever it took to see how far he could go.
It took a lot, and we learned a lot — many tough lessons about the business of basketball and the life of a pro basketball player playing overseas. However, one thing that stood out was the lack of mentorship support. There weren’t many resources or tools to equip us.
So we had to learn quickly on what makes a good agent and how to get one; how NOT to get scammed; how to manage money; how to properly put together a resume and highlight reel; how to brand and market yourself; how to understand and negotiate contracts; and the most important lesson we learned, was how to be a “Professional”- learning that basketball was only 20% and the business was 80%.
Playing overseas was quite different from playing in the NBA and if you weren’t in the mix or around those guys who had already “been there, done that,” you were kind of left to figure it out on your own. Thankfully we were tenacious and determined. We were both willing to dedicate ourselves and make the sacrifices needed to see it through. He was just that good.
After an 8-year career playing professional basketball internationally, Coach Mike realized he wanted to do more. Especially now, seeing a new generation of players coming up and having to answer the same question again and again… “How do I play basketball overseas?” In 2016, he retired playing international professional basketball and started mentoring and coaching athletes on and off the court.
Ten years later, now husband and wife, we took my experience in business management and branding and his in coaching and mentorship and lauched Great Gain Athletics Inc. It’s a sports mentoring organization and we are now is entering our 3rd year.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Yes. As a non-profit, there’s always the financial strain to cover expenses out of our own pocket.
Running our programs, we’ve had to change gym locations, had to cancel planned events, workshops and games. On the business and creative side, I can be a bit overly ambitious.
We have so many ideas, projects, events and more we want to implement. Unfortunately, we’ve had to scale back a lot, find alternatives and learn just to be patient and trust the timing.
Nonetheless, we love what we do and want to do this full time, so we work hard to make things happen and appreciate those who believe in our vision and have helped along the way.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are a sports mentoring organization serving the Los Angeles area and surrounding communities. We seek to improve the lives and well being of aspiring athletes by mentoring through our Youth & Pro Club programs as well as our community events. We strive to give young people the best chances to succeed as athletes beyond the game.
Our premier program “Pro-Club Experience” is the first of its kind as far as we know. It is a 12-week intensive basketball development program that gives participants a “professional sports contract” experience. Our coaching staff mentors aspiring athletes through pro-prep athletic development, educational workshops, and community service activities and events.
In 2018, we were able to help place 5 of our program athletes with rookie contracts overseas. We’ve also helped guys in our program secured gigs locally as youth basketball coaches and trainers just to stay around the game of basketball. Others have been able to use the program to prepare for college basketball and develop better work ethic for other endeavors.
Our “Youth Club Experience” program is for youth ages 17 and under. It’s an integrated experience alongside our pro guys. Essentially, we volunteer our time to our aspiring pros to help them achieve their goals, and in return, they volunteer their time giving back to the youth and community. We visit schools and organizations and give free clinics and student-athlete workshops.
We also plan to host our own events in the community including our “All-Star Day.” It’s a family fun & fitness day to raise funds and awareness for mental health & wellness as well as mentoring through sports.
Our “Gifted Bags Campaign” is also something we are excited about. We hope to collect items for deserving youth and student-athletes. You can learn more about this on our website.
What were you like growing up?
Him: Coach Mike, a Chicago native, who only started playing organized ball at the age of 17, was considered an under the radar, misguided athlete who didn’t believe a career in basketball was in his future. Known for winning the dunk contest in high school with “jeans and Timberland boots on.”
A sneakerhead, basketball historian and bit of a comedian.
Me: A UCLA graduate of Ethnomusicology and Los Angeles native, I was the creative girl. I wrote and produce music, made videos, wrote poems and skits, danced and reorganized and rearranged my room at least once a month. A bit OCD!
Nonetheless, both of our hobbies and experiences growing up play an integral part in what we love to do today.
- Website: https://greatgainathleticsinc.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/great_gain_athletics/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greatgainathletics/
- Other: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK_uqeI4O0RRm087kMOwA9g?view_as=subscriber
Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.