By Madisen Carter
Devon Brookshire is on her way to play her fifth season of professional basketball, now playing for AD Vagos in Portugal’s top league. She has not only been putting in work physically to prepare for her upcoming season, but most importantly to her, mentally.
Focusing on the mental side of the game is a key that Brookshire started incorporating into her athletic career after she finished college. Brookshire graduated from Saint Mary’s College in 2017 where she played Division I basketball, and achieved a degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Kinesiology. Once she finished her collegiate career in basketball with Saint Mary’s, she began working with Unlimited Potential Basketball’s Coach Packie Turner.
In her training sessions with Coach Packie, not only did they focus on the physical skills of the game of basketball, but also had a crucial concentration on the mental side of basketball and the confidence needed to become a professional athlete.
“He just took me under his wing like right away,” Brookshire said. “He helped me see my potential, he saw my strength and helped me see it too. He was instrumental in getting me ready to play overseas my first year, and ever since then I've come back every off-season to work with him as much as I can.”
Since Coach Packie’s and Brookshire’s series of training during her first off-season, Brookshire has been playing professional basketball for four years and now going on five years. Her first year of professional ball was in Ireland when she led her team to its first Superleague Championship in club history. After that, she went on to France to play for two years and won another League Championship her second year. She then went on to play in Spain and Latvia and is now preparing for her fifth season, where she will be playing in Portugal.
Brookshire credits much of her success and accomplishments within her professional career overseas due to training her mindset and training at UPB’s facility that centers both physical and mental training. She said having a sound mind and strong mindset has helped navigate her through obstacles that have come up and has helped her feel good both on and off the court.
“Honestly, I would not be playing today if I hadn't taken the time and the energy and continued to formally train my mindset. It's been [a] key [as] I'm going into my fifth year, and [I am] hoping to go as many as I can,” Brookshire said.
In May, Brookshire expanded her interest on the mental side of the game and joined RISE Athletes. Through Mindset-Development Programs, a team of world class athletes has the mission to create long lasting, foundational change in young athletes’ journeys. This program gives teen athletes the opportunity to train their mind alongside athletes who have made it to the top levels in their respective sports.
Brookshire heard of RISE Athletes through a friend that was a mentor for the program and now plays professionally in Australia. When he posted about RISE Athletes, it caught her attention and automatically knew she would love to be a part of the team. She is currently one of two basketball mentors for RISE Athletes, and she says the calls she has had so far are extremely gratifying and gets her excited to be able to help out young athletes.
“It's a really cool opportunity because it's helping kids at a much younger age than [I was] when I really started diving into the mindset training, and catching them younger and introducing them to these concepts that have been so helpful for me in my career and my life,” Brookshire said. “[Having the] opportunity to kind of help someone along and be that person that maybe I wish I had in high school is a really cool opportunity… It's nice to be able to give back and to impact the up and coming players.”
Throughout her professional career, Brookshire has learned and experienced many things. She has learned how to be adaptable in new countries, new cultures, with new teammates and new systems.
Brookshire left Southern California to Portugal on September 21st to start her new journey. She said she has been preparing for her upcoming season by training and conditioning with six other women who play basketball overseas. She has also been working with multiple coaches including Coach Packie.
AD Vagos’ first game of the season is on Saturday, and until then Brookshire will be preparing and practicing for that first game back on the court. She said she is excited to get going and play the game she loves.
“[Basketball is] just an instrument of self growth. So by working every day to be the best I can be on the court, I am revealing more of just myself personally and growing. You know, my character and everything,” Brookshire said. “I think that's just been a really fun journey to see. The game has taken me so far, but it's just the development I've made as a person that makes me want to keep going.”