The personal care brand is working to diminish the stereotypes often placed on Black men. Off Court, Champs celebrates Black men “on and off the court.”
When Dove commissioned a study entitled Bias Against Black Men – Understanding Perceptions and How They Impact Black Men & Boys,” they found that when shown an image of a Black man, people most likely described him as an athlete over any other profession. In addition, black men were viewed as intellectually inferior by their white counterparts. It’s not surprising as for decades young Black men tend to be valued more for their athletic skills than their intelligence and charisma. To combat these stereotypes, Dove Men+Care is launching Off Court Champs to spotlight former Black NCAA athletes who’ve become successful as CEOs, lawyers, artists, and more. The Off Court Champs include Justin Drummond, Terrance Hayes, Michael C. Thorpe, Onaje Woodbine, Adonal Foyle, Desmond Mason, and Terry Dehere. The Champs will additionally serve as mentors for the Off-Court Clinics, a series of virtual workshops to advise today’s student-athletes, in partnership with the NCAA.
The Knockturnal reached out to Justin Drummond, CEO of security solutions company “SparkC” and suit company “Execz Suit Company,” about taking part in the project along with his own endeavors and advice for student-athletes.
The Knockturnal: Could you talk about your days as a student-athlete, and what do you believe student-athletes today are struggling with?
Justin Drummond: My days as a student-athlete were some of the best times of my life. The ability to play Division I basketball at the high level provides you with an experience that only 1% of athletes get to experience. Being able to travel across the country and play the game you love in front of thousands of people is a dream come true. While there are a lot of lights, you must ensure you are not blinded by them. It is important that you are thinking about life after the four years is complete.
I believe that student-athletes are struggling with the same obstacles I faced from 2011 – 2015 – the ability to prepare for life after school. Only 1% of collegiate student-athletes will make sustainable money to allow them to thrive for a lifetime. The other 99% must prepare while operating through the rigorous basketball schedule and year-round obligations. Players do not understand the severity of life after basketball because the experience is so fun and exciting. My journey is being used as an example to show student-athletes a blueprint for building while in college and thriving after.
The Knockturnal: What led you to your current field?
Justin Drummond: My love for keeping others safe led me into starting a cyber-security company. When I was young, safety was my second passion. I was the sibling that always checks the locks on the front door during nighttime and always wanted to ensure those around were safe and aware of their surroundings. This passion started to manifest during my junior year of college as I started to read more books about entrepreneurship and capitalize on the things that you are passionate about.
The Knockturnal: When were you approached by Dove for this initiative?
Justin Drummond: I was approached for this initiative in early February, and originally, I wasn’t sure if it was real or not. I am in cybersecurity and I thought it was a phishing email at first. After doing further research, I realized this opportunity was 100% real. My Alma Mater was not aware of this initiative until being informed so I was not sure how it manifested. I didn’t ask too many questions and accepted the offer. It has been a great experience thus far.
The Knockturnal: Dove’s “Commit to C.A.R.E” Pledge is focused on combating racial stigma. How important is that in your daily life?
Justin Drummond: Racial stigma continues to plague the minds of our youth which leads them to believe that they only aspire to success through athletics and entertainment. This is changing that narrative by highlighting student-athletes that have been able successfully make that transition from high-level collegiate athletics to the corporate business world. It is important that current and aspiring athletes know that there is opportunity at the end of their careers – they just must prepare for it.
The Knockturnal: What are the ways in which you’re making change outside of Off Court Champs?
Justin Drummond: I am always striving to share my story and hope it reaches as many student-athletes as possible. I mentor a lot of student-athletes that are current and incoming into NCAA collegiate sports. Since graduation, I have continued to reach out to athletic programs across the country to provide this knowledge to athletes that they fall victim to the illusion. I am currently in the process of developing virtual resources that student-athletes can tap into while in college to prepare properly.
The Knockturnal: How impactful has mentorship been in your life?
Justin Drummond: Mentorship has been crucial to my success on the court and in business. Within the basketball realm, I formed great relationships with several mentors that I continue to connect with and also providing opportunities to impact the athletic departments. In the business realm, I had older mentors but no one my age that knew how to navigate the landscape I was embarking on. Being a business owner, being comfortable communicating is important for any business to thrive. Gaining mentors through active networking has been a key factor to gaining new business and limiting mistakes.
The Knockturnal: What can attendees expect from the Off-Court Clinics?
Justin Drummond: Attendees that attend the Off-Court Champs can expect a real-world conversation with somebody that was literally in their shoes six years ago. The NCAA landscape has not changed, and the information I can provide the student-athletes can be acted upon immediately and help them gain confidence for the future. They will be able to ask important questions that provide clarity of opportunities that can be developed while in college.
The Knockturnal: What major piece of advice would you want the student athletes to leave with?
Justin Drummond: The major piece of advice I would leave with the student-athlete would be, you have more power than you think. You access resources and networks that the average student does not have. Expand your horizons and meet other professionals within the network and around campus to truly understand the world outside of basketball. I was able to cultivate relationships with business owners that support the basketball program that benefited me after graduation in the professional world. It is all about setting the stage before graduation so you can benefit from it after graduation.
The Knockturnal: Any major projects besides Off Court Clinics you’d wish to add.
Justin Drummond: With my company SparkC – we develop training technologies. My team is creating a low-cost, high-quality “Preparing for Life after Sports” module collection that athletes will be able to access virtually that can provide the knowledge needed to prepare for this transition.