Catching Up With….. Portia Jones
This is the second of a two part series about Savannah native Portia Jones.
Portia was a student athlete at Jenkins High School and Armstrong State University and is currently the director of women’s basketball operations at Georgia State University.
1- What led you to go after a career in the sports industry? “Originally I didn’t pursue a career in the sports industry. I knew I loved basketball and I knew I loved people so I wanted a job that merged the two. I wanted to be a sport psychologist. My original plan was to get a BS in Psychology, which I did, and then get a PhD or PsyD in Psychology and specialize in working with athletes. I applied for the Psychology PhD program at the University Of Indianapolis but did not get in. I did end up getting into the Master’s program instead. During my second year at UINDY, I became a graduate assistant for the Women’s Basketball program under Coach Constantine Popa. When I graduated in July of 2012, I applied for several assistant coaching positions and a couple graduate assistantship positions.
I was a finalist on two of those positions at Division II schools, but ended up not getting either job. As an assistant at a D-II school, recruiting is a significant part of the job and I didn’t have enough experience to land those jobs. So, I decided to go back to school and get a second masters in sports administration. I figured I could go back and learn the business side of sports to help enhance my resume and professional profile. I got accepted into the Georgia State Sports Administration program where I started out as a graduate assistant in ticket operations and then switched over to student athlete development. Through this program, I got the opportunity to work for the Falcons, the Braves, the Hawks, the Dream, Pro Camp sports, the Cam Newton Foundation, and the Roddy White Foundation. I also figured out that I loved student-athlete development, which entailed developing student-athletes outside of the classroom and their sport and preparing them for life after college. After leaving GSU, I went to Indiana University to continue my career in student athlete development as the leadership and life skills assistant. After eight months at Indiana, I made my way back into women’s basketball at Georgia State as the Director of Basketball Operations for the Women’s Basketball team.”
2- What was it like working for high profile athletes like Cam Newton and Roddy White? “I enjoyed working for both organizations. My time with The Roddy White Keep the Faith Foundation was cut short by the unexpected death of Roddy’s younger brother. The foundation slowed down temporarily to grieve and deal with that tragic event.”
“My experience with the Cam Newton Foundation was nothing short of awesome! His family took me in like I was one of their own and I was able to build some great relationships. It was so refreshing to see Cam Newton actually show up and spend so much time with the kids at camp and to even stay after and help us clean up from camps. The first day I saw him stay and pick up trash out the bleachers, changed my whole perspective of him. He would literally go to OTA’s (Organized Team Activities) in the morning and fly right back to be at the camp with the kids. I never had a negative perception of Cam, but those things made me into a lifelong fan. To have a foundation in your name, is one thing, but to actually be as hands-on as he is, is a totally different thing. I have so much respect for the whole Newton Family because they really do care about their community.”
3- Do you see yourself wanting to coach in the future? “I love basketball and I love being on a team, but I’m not sure about coaching in the future. My father always teases me and tells me I will end up in coaching again, so we will see.”
4- Over the years you have worked several jobs, from volunteer and ticket taker to working in professional organizations (Hawks and Falcons). How do you view this valuable experience? “In my current position, knowledge of all of those areas has been extremely beneficial. As the Director of Basketball Operations, I literally touch all aspects of this basketball program. Those jobs have given me the knowledge and experience that enables me to relate and understand so many different aspects of our entire athletic program. I’ve worked in academics, student-athlete development, ticketing, marketing, non-profit organizations, game day operations, youth development and sport camps. In addition, each opportunity has allowed me to grow and expand my network in the Atlanta community, which can prove to be resourceful at times.”
5- Another Savannah native, Misty Brown, worked at GSU before moving on to a job in the SEC office. Did you have any interactions while she was at GSU? “I did meet Misty at GSU. Although we did not work together often, she and I interacted on a frequent basis. She offered her help when I first got to GSU as a graduate assistant and continued to be a valuable resource until she left. You know us Savannah folks have to stick together. “
6-Where do you see yourself 10-15 years down the line? “Personally I would like to be happily married with a family. Professionally, I could see myself doing a number of things, possibly doing operations at a larger university or for a professional sports team. I could see myself organizing collegiate conference and national tournaments as well. I also have aspirations of owning my own basketball facility.”