Media Credit: File Photo by Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor
A 2018 video of Fox News host Laura Ingraham telling NBA star LeBron James to “shut up and dribble” pushed one alumna to start a podcast to highlight athletes off the court.
Former women’s basketball graduate student forward Alexandra Maund is trying to get rid of the stigma that athletes are just baskets and statistics through a podcast she debuted last month.
Maund launched the “Baskets and Brains” podcast as part of her capstone project in the School of Media and Public Affairs’ master’s in media and strategic communication program. She said she hopes to shed light on coaches and athletes for more than their sporting abilities through the podcast by discussing their interests and hobbies outside sports.
“We’re not dumb,” Maund said. “Our ability to play sports does not dictate our ability to think or speak out on issues or exist in this country, and I wanted to find a way to make that the core of my capstone project.”
Maund said she got inspiration for the podcast after stumbling onto a 2018 video of Fox News host Laura Ingraham. Ingraham told NBA star LeBron James to “shut up and dribble,” following critical comments he made about President Donald Trump’s leadership and rhetoric.
She said the clip, which angers her to this day, led her to conduct interviews that allow athletes to speak their minds and share their perspectives about topics outside sports.
“I thought, ‘Well, politics can be how an athlete feels about what’s going on around them,’” Maund said. “‘Politics can be what they feel about something like George Floyd or the debates that we had last night. How do I find a way to ask athletes about how they feel and bring it into something that means a lot to me so that I’m engaged?’ I think that I found it with this podcast.”
Originally looking to hand in just three episodes for the class, Maund said she is now hoping to complete at least 10 for her capstone, and she currently plans to continue the podcast after graduating.
“This podcast has shown me that there’s so much to the people in our lives. There are so many layers to who we are as people and sometimes you have to dig with intention to get that out, but it’s such a rewarding experience.”
The podcast includes interviews with athletes and coaches, like former Utah track and field runner and current sports dietician Elise McVicar and Wake Forest assistant women’s basketball coach Melissa D’Amico. Maund and McVicar discussed McVicar’s time as a student-athlete and her new role as a nutritionist and dietician. On D’Amico’s episode, they talked about how she found her passion for coaching and love for service with play BOLD.
One of Maund’s most recent interviews was with women’s basketball assistant coach Kevin DeMille, who spoke about coaching women’s athletics and his involvement in sports as a gay man.
She added that interviewing DeMille, who served as a mentor to her on and off the court during her time with the team, was a “special” opportunity because of the bond they created in her year with the women’s basketball program.
“He was willing to help me, even though I’m not even his player anymore,” Maund said. “That really speaks to not just him as a person and as a coach, but GW women’s coaches and women’s athletics being there for their players even after they’ve gone on to other things and have moved on and graduated.”
Maund took on a leadership role at the start of last season to develop relationships with the younger players. Maund was also a force on the court, leading the team in scoring with 11.1 points per game while shooting at a 50.4 percent clip from the floor.
Inspired by social justice movements across the country and in professional basketball leagues, Maund said she is also looking for ways to include discussions around race and equity in her podcast. She said she wants to follow in the footsteps of NBA and WNBA players by using her platform to make a difference for and serve others who are “disenfranchised and overlooked.”
“Seeing that some of my role models and people who I watched growing up try and make a difference for others has definitely influenced my love of talking to these athletes and hearing about what it is that they love,” Maund said.
Maund said she uses the app Anchor and her phone to conduct and record interviews. She uploads the nearly weekly podcast on multiple streaming platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts. She also runs Instagram and Twitter accounts for her podcast.
Maund said those interested in nominating someone for the podcast can also reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
She added that she’s learned a great deal about other people in her life through the three interviews she’s conducted so far.
“This podcast has shown me that there’s so much to the people in our lives,” Maund said. “There are so many layers to who we are as people and sometimes you have to dig with intention to get that out, but it’s such a rewarding experience.”