by Kennedy Collins, Journalism student, University of Central Florida
Finding your way into a leadership role is a journey. For Jessica Brooks-Incorminias, it was characterized by continual, unpredicted growth. Her home in Newport News, Virginia was filled with sports fanatics. Her grandfather, father, and uncles played sports when they were younger and also played at the collegiate level. Later in life they became football coaches. Their love for sports became contagious and inspired Brooks-Incorminias to build her own passion.
When she began playing sports at nine years old, it wasn’t enough for her to just stick to one; Brooks-Incorminias played soccer, basketball, and field hockey (a non-traditional sport for black women). Playing multiple sports when she was younger made her more appreciative of top tier experiences and made her value the concept of championships.
As she continued to mature, she began to think about her future and what she could do for a career. It wasn’t until her junior year of high school that she decided to get into sports reporting. Figuring her love of sports could translate to television, she began working with a program at her high school that allowed students to work alongside their local news station’s sports department. The positive experience led her to pursuing a degree in Communications when she initially started at Liberty University. With time, she chose to expand her options and decided to change her major to Sports Management and minor in Communications and Aviation ARY.
Minoring in Aviation ARY changed her career goals. While in college, Brooks-Incorminias started training to be a flight attendant through a program at her college. It wasn’t until she was offered an intern position with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) that she found her way back into sports.
Proving that hard work pays off, she was promoted to a graduate assistant following the completion of her internship. A year later, she was hired full-time as the Executive Assistant to the Commissioner.
Going back to her roots, she was also the Head Field Hockey coach at Heritage High School, her former high school. It was here that she learned that sports had more to offer than championships. She knew that she could impact student-athletes as people and inspire them to reach every goal they set out to achieve on and off the field.
Growing in her position, Brooks-Incorminias, who is now the Director of Championship Events and Internal Operations, she oversees managing conference operations, scheduling associate meetings, planning the third largest college basketball tournament, managing the conference’s Graduate Assistant and Internship program, and more. Her favorite part about what she does is planning and overseeing events because of their ability to bring people together regardless of any external factors.
Because of mentors she has had throughout her career, she knew she wanted to be a mentor for other young women. Due to COVID, she has been able to connect with student-athletes on a more personal level and has found joy in coaching them as people. Her advice to young, black women is to be bold and use your voice. She emphasizes authenticity and urges them to be adaptable but malleable. Trust in yourself and the process of reaching your goals.