Sports pioneer Allison Feaster shares her journey from international, professional basketball player to one of the few women in the NBA’s front office. Allison studied Economics at Harvard before starting her WNBA career and credits her family with encouraging her to attend the Ivy League school while maintaining her playing career.
“When I attended Harvard, I was exposed to so many different cultures, different types of students. Everyone has something very unique and special that makes them who they are. I think it absolutely has helped me. I don’t think I would have changed or made a different college choice if I had to do it over again,” Allison said.
She is the only athlete to be honored as League Player of the Year three times. Allison reminisces about her Harvard coach, Kathy Delaney Smith, and the role of mentorship in her life.
“I consider her, to this day, a second mom to me. She really was an example of a strong woman. She instilled in all of us that. Women deserved more than what we were getting at the time. I immediately latched on to that. I think the values that we all learn from her, we travel with those everywhere we go, we lead with those ideas everywhere we lead today,” Allison said.
Allison played for the Los Angeles Sparks, Charlotte Sting, and Indiana Fever in addition to playing in France, Portugal and Spain. She also worked as a sports ambassador with the U.S. State Department and traveled the world as part of a sports diplomacy mission.
“It’s a sports diplomacy platform where we would travel around the globe. We went to Myanmar, to Suriname, Philippines…Through sports we opened up lines of communication with other countries and to learn and to share. I think that was probably a primer for my role with the Celtics and I loved the international aspect of it,” Allison said.
She was one of two women, along with Stacey Lovelace, in the NBA’s inaugural class of Basketball Operations Associates in 2016. During the program, she worked with teams in Atlanta, Washington, Memphis, Charlotte, and Brooklyn.
“It wasn’t an easy transition, you dedicate your so many years of your life to being an elite level athlete on the court, you don’t really have your eyes open to all that all the preparation and everything else that goes into careers off the court.
“As an athlete, you play night in and night out in front of thousands of fans and you get paid a lot of money. When the lights go down, you hang those shoes up. It’s dark and lonely at times, frankly, and there’s a lot of uncertainty and fear. But that I think that, in a nutshell, is what it was like initially. But thankfully, some of the skills I acquired as an athlete, perseverance, resilience, forging forward and networking and meeting people and, learning and stepping outside of my comfort zone, I was able to make some connections with a tremendous amount of help from others,” Allison said.
After the program ended, Allison worked in player development in the G-League which eventually led to her current position as Vice-President of Player Development & Organizational Growth for the Boston Celtics.
When asked about her role with the Celtics, Allison said, “I think another bullet point under that title is to be a culture warrior, I’m an ambassador for the Celtics brand internally and externally.”
During 2020, social justice issues came to the forefront. The NBA, WNBA and other professional sports leagues responded to BLM, womens’ rights, and other issues that affect both players and fans.
“I have the great fortune of serving as co-lead of Celtics United. We have a social justice platform that we focus on making an impact in our community in terms of changing some of the social injustice and racial inequities we see in the Greater Boston community. I’m really just really fortunate for this role, just in this opportunity,” Allison said.
Finally, she and Andy talk about Kobe Bryant and the impact he had on women’s sports. She remembers seeing Kobe and Shaq courtside at WNBA games and Kobe’s support of his daughter, Gianna’s basketball journey.
“What we could say about Kobe is endless…He was doing wonderful things for the women’s game, but I think it was just the tip of the iceberg for his legacy and what he was about to do for the women’s game. I challenge and charge all girl dads, all NBA players, anyone who has a daughter or an important woman in his life to follow Kobe’s lead in that respect.”
Hear Allison’s thoughts on mentorship, her memories of playing professional basketball overseas, and more. Listen here or watch the interview on YouTube.