By Madisen Carter
Today marks the 37th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. The Women’s Sports Foundation website says that “this celebration inspires girls and women to play and be active, to realize their full power. The confidence, strength and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls and women need to become strong leaders in sports and life.”
Here at Unlimited Potential Basketball, we have a team full of women who are intelligent, strong and determined, and are led by UPB CEO, Bianca Turner. Bianca has been the CEO of UPB since the facility opened in 2016, after she and Chief Training Officer, Packie Turner, were in the business for one year. Now around seven years later, the business has grown with an amazing community surrounding it and it is only continuing to grow.
Bianca started playing sports when she was just three years old. She started with gymnastics and continued to play organized sports throughout elementary and middle school. She played basketball up until the eighth grade and played volleyball through high school. She even started coaching her younger sister’s volleyball team and continued to coach the sport for ten years.
After graduating high school, she then went on to get her degree in Business Marketing at Santa Clara University. Bianca explained that her roles before UPB, including a position in inventory management and planning as well as a four year tenure at Nordstrom, helped prepare her for the position as the CEO of a basketball training facility.
In honor of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Bianca answered some questions about her journey to becoming CEO and gives the next generation of women in sports insight and advice:
Q: Did you always know you wanted to work in sports?
A: It definitely just happened. I wanted to be in retail, and I studied Retail Studies [and marketing] at Santa Clara University. I learned the business side and I really enjoyed my first job out of college working in inventory planning and management, but it wasn't exactly my calling. I did miss doing something that was more hands on and making a difference in people's lives. So that's why I made a change. [Also,] Packie just needed help in the beginning when he was working kids out [before UPB,] so I stepped in just to help him on the side and then after that as it took off, I continued to help and then then we created this business together and and my role just continued to grow.
Q: What was your journey to becoming the CEO of Unlimited Potential Basketball?
A: I think having my degree helped. I used to describe [UPB] as one big marketing project, because that's how it felt in the beginning. We had no idea what we were doing and we were just making decisions and going with it. Really, I was super passionate about the business side, the financial side, hitting sales goals, working on our expenses and you know, creating a culture here and working on the brand, the brand values and the mission. Those were all things that I was super passionate about… I started from you know, cleaning bathrooms and making sure our gym looked spic and span to answering phone calls and emails at all hours of the day, just to make sure we have the best customer service ever… Once we were able to hire people to answer emails, work on social media and answer phone calls, I was able to focus more on the financial side and continuing to grow the business and looking for more avenues of revenue streams. And so it was a process of getting to where I am now, because really I was just about the operations in the beginning and admin stuff. As we've continued to hire that support staff, I've been able to focus more on growing the business.
Q: Did you face any challenges as a woman in the sports industry? If so, how did you overcome those challenges?
A: Yeah, I faced quite a few. I think the first one I created myself, you know, just having this narrative in my head that I am a female in the sports industry and not having the confidence to work past that in the beginning and just always defaulting to Packie and [saying], “Packie you know the answer,” when really he wanted me to be part of this because he trusts and believes in my opinions and my thoughts. So it was first about being confident in myself in an industry dominated by men. And then I would run into issues where I would have parents coming in or writing emails and I would give them the response, and it wasn't good enough. They wanted to hear from Packie [and] he would always have my back… I think having a team AKA Packie that really supports me and believes that women are smart and capable, and doesn't see a difference in our abilities when it comes to working in sports, makes a huge difference… So it has to be teamwork. It has to be both us working through our obstacles and not giving up, but also we do need men to speak out, be supportive, hire women and talk to their friends and tell them how great you know their female counterparts and employees are… We're doing it here [at UPB,] we have female trainers on court. So we are showing young men from the ages of three years old now that you can have a woman teaching you basketball. It's as simple as that.
Q: If you could tell your younger self something you know now, what would it be?
A: You don't have to be perfect. Things go wrong, and just because it goes wrong doesn't mean that you can't recover. It's about the recovery. How do you pivot? How do you learn from your failures? Some of the most important things that have happened in our lives, [and] I'm speaking for Packie as well, have come out of failing in a certain area [where we] adjust[ed] and then it takes off. So I think that's what I would tell myself. You don't have to be perfect when things don't go right, [just] adjust. It's the people who don't make the adjustments that don't get far in life.
Q: What advice can you give to young women that have aspirations about being a leader in sports?
A: I would say find people that align with you, that will support you, that you can learn from, [and] that helps create a positive environment for you to learn, so that you can grow. It's out there, you don't have to accept being in a toxic environment, look for a team where there are people that are going to support you [and] challenge you. Take the negative feedback, work with it. Try to be better [and] work your butt off. Don't be complacent, always have a hunger to learn and to grow. Stay humble, you don't know everything. Ask for advice as much as you can, because people love to give advice and feel connected to you, that's how doors open.
The team at UPB is extremely fortunate to have a leader like Bianca and she is someone that both the women and men can look to for guidance and advice. Bianca is a testament for all young women that want to be leaders in sports and proves that when you set your mind on something, it can be achieved no matter what others may say or think.
“Something that I'm really grateful for is the women that we do have working with us. I am grateful to have [Madisen,] Ruta, Sara, Jordan, Annalise, Karla, and Alyssa [on the team,”] Bianca said. “I do feel grateful that I have been able to be surrounded by a team of women who are passionate, hungry and empowered. It's very motivating for me, and that's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, that I feel like we all push each other and that is the power of women.”