8 years ago today…

Today is The Korner’s 8th birfday. And it has been five years since I have written on this special day. But with everything that’s going on, and everything that has transpired since, this post is a must. So here we go…

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my story, I will fill you in real quick. I started Kassie Nette’s Korner because I wanted to have my own place to talk about sports. At the time, I was engulfed in the life of being under employed. I was working in retail management while trying to revamp my career path. I have always been passionate about sports and was being encouraged by many to re-enter into the industry. Having previously worked in the North Carolina State University Athletic Department for five years, I assumed securing a job would be easy.

Nope.

No one was interested in hiring a black woman who held a master’s in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management with a concentration in Sports Management who had previously been employed in various capacities for one of the nation’s premier athletic departments. Frustrated and baffled but not deterred, I became tired of waiting for an opportunity. So, I created my own.

And that’s how The Korner was born.

My expectations were that by carving out my own little nook, I would provide those in decision making positions with insight into the knowledge I had inquired in a space that was largely void of people who looked like me. They would see that I did not just talk about games but I knew the game. They would be interested in me. They would want to hire me. That is how I saw this playing out. One day, you would see me on ESPN.

But that is not how the story goes. It has not even come close to what I had imagined. However, what I received actually changed my life and the direction of it.

For the good.

As I wrote about sports consistently, from a standpoint of the actual games, the art of them and offering up my opinion about various decision made by general managers, team presidents and coaches, I also uncovered a need to address the social issues that were deeply embedded within the industry.

The first time, I ventured outside of my norm was to shed light on the controversy surrounding a young black girl by the name of Taylor Townsend. At the time, she was 16 years old, the number one junior tennis player in the world and was the reigning junior girls singles champion of the Australian Open and doubles champion for the Australian Open and Wimbledon. But the talk about her was not centered around her accomplishments. It was centered around her body.

Yes, her body.

Before she traveled to the US Open that year, she was told by the United States Tennis Association that they would not be funding any more of her tournament appearances until she lost weight and got into better shape.

Say what now?

As much as they tried to spin the narrative and make it about their concern for her health, their concerns oozed with stereotypes. Townsend is not your stereotypical tennis player. She is tall, muscular and solid. She had previously played the year before in this same body and it was not an issue. Now that she was sitting at number one and winning, it was a problem.

The real issue was their stereotypes, body image and her skin color.

And I could not possibly allow this story to make its way through the news cycle without addressing it. That is not how I am wired. I learned that at the age of 17 when I challenged people in my hometown to examine themselves as they caused a ruckus over the renaming of our intermediate school.

Through writing, I had not tapped into that side in years but now that it had been awakened, it was game on. Just like that, things began to shift. I could no longer only use my platform to discuss sports in the context of what takes place within the field of play but I had to address the prejudices, double standards and discrepancies within the game as well.

As I began to expand my content across the industry, I began to feel another pull – this time to use my words to address social issues outside of sports. As the years pass by, we should be in a constant state of growth. With that comes wisdom. For a creative, such as myself, it also comes with a need to release the feelings that are swirling around inside through our chosen form of art. To use the outlet I have been afforded to affect change.

And on 8/14/14, it happened.

I wrote a blog post that had nothing to do with sports.

It was five days after Michel Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was murdered by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson. The city was enraged and so was I. I was also fearful as evident by the title of the post, “I have NEVER been afraid of the police…”

I also felt free.

Initially, I had boxed myself in to only discuss sports. While I was proud of the content I had produced, I knew that was not the only topic I was capable of writing about. But I was hesitant to venture away from my initial purpose for starting The Korner. How could I switch things up when I had already gained a loyal following? Could I mix things up when people expected sports commentary? Or do I ignore my instincts and stick with what was seemingly working?

It did not matter what I thought. The response from the article confirmed the route that was required of me. And from that day forward, I have used The Korner to share my thoughts on many subjects including police brutality, domestic violence, veterans, concerts, friendship, Black Lives Matter, President and First Lady Obama, life, #NotRayLewis, Lexington BBQ, God, my locs, criminal justice reform and the North Carolina coast.

What started as my little oasis where I got to be the lady who shared the sports knowledge she had acquired has helped me hone my gift that has allowed me to amass over 600 bylines, interview top executives at global organizations and have my work featured in national publications.

Writing for many other outlets has made new content scarce here at Kassie Nette’s Korner. For the past four years, every time the site comes up for renewal, I have contemplated not renewing it before I am quickly reminded of its importance in my journey.

Without The Korner, I know I would not be a smidgen of the writer I am today. I look back at my posts and I see days where only 10 people read my article. I look in the latter years and there are days when my views were in the thousands. I am proud of what has transpired and I am excited about what is ahead.

Thank you Kassie Nette’s Korner for being the foundation.

Thank you Kassie Nette’s Korner for being the blueprint.

Thank you Kassie Nette’s Korner for being the launching pad.

I appreciate you.

HAPPY BIRFDAAAAAAAAAAAY!!

Lockhart…out.

 

 

#TheLastDance

Seven years ago, ESPN debuted a documentary that was met by a level of excitement within me that hadn’t been witnessed before.

It was based on a story in which I had a lot of familiarity. It was based on a story that I’d had the privilege of discussing with many who played intricate roles in the outcome. It was a story that found itself at the forefront every March. And it is a story that always tugged at the heartstrings of graduates of my alma mater.

It was the story of the North Carolina State University 1983 Men’s Basketball Team. And their destiny that culminated with them doing what others thought was impossible to capture a national championship that is still talked about decades later.

Before then, my level of excitement about a documentary hadn’t been matched. Since then, it hadn’t been matched.

Until last year.

Continue reading “#TheLastDance”

Free At Last: Lexington native embraces change, advocates for inmates

…thankful to put pen to paper for this one…

Two weeks ago I had the privilege to interview Mr. Matthew Charles – the man who made international headlines after he was ordered to return to federal prison after spending 20 years incarcerated. It’s an honor to profile Mr. Matthew who is easily one of the most humble, memorable and remarkably wise persons I’ve ever met. He’s on a mission to bring to light the injustices of the “justice system” and change the narrative for the voiceless who are caught up in the wave of incapacitation everyday. Welcome home, Mr. Matthew! To God be the glory!

https://www.the-dispatch.com/news/20190503/lexington-native-embraces-change-advocates-for-inmates

 

Why I: Love Being Black

Say it loud – I’M BLACK and I’M PROUD!!

Other than the phrases, “God is good,”

or

“Pizza is from Heaven”

or

“I have the best family and friends ever,” no truer words have ever been spoken.

Today, is the last day of Black History Month. Today marks the culmination of a push across America to squeeze in as much information into the minds of those who will listen about the contributions of black people in America. While today signifies the end of the collective focus, spanning various races, it does not signify the end of the cycle to educate, highlight and uncover facts that need not be ignored.

But that’s not why I’m here.

I could go on and on about the lack of teaching when it comes to black history.

But that’s not why I’m here.

Continue reading “Why I: Love Being Black”

Raw emotions: #RIPJemelRoberson

I am not even sure if I am mad.

I am not even sure if I am disgusted.

I honestly am not sure what my feelings are at the moment.

Maybe it is a combination. Or a culmination.

Whatever it is, I am tired of feeling it.

Jemel. Roberson.

Say his name.

Out. Loud.

Jemel. Roberson.

Now all I need to do is eliminate the space and period between his first and last name and add a #. After that, I am sure you will have already drafted the scenario.

Black man. White cop. Dead black body. Cop on leave. The end.

Continue reading “Raw emotions: #RIPJemelRoberson”

Why black women across the world understood Serena’s soliloquy

*originally posted on Women AdvaNCe’s website*

As I sat and watched Serena fight back, tears formed in my eyes.

Her words were sharp.

Her eyes were piercing.

Her body language was stern.

She was fed up.

She’d had enough.

She was exhausted.

I’ve only played tennis maybe three times in my life yet I knew exactly what she was going through.

I felt her pain.

I understood her pain.

I knew her pain.

Simply because, I, too, am a black woman.

Continue reading “Why black women across the world understood Serena’s soliloquy”

Why I: Love the North Carolina Coast

Aye ya’ll.

I’m nervous.

Hurricane Florence has me on edge and as much as I have been praying that she will make a hard right turn and miss the U.S. completely, I have accepted the notion that its highly unlikely. Won’t stop me from praying though.

But yeah, I’m nervous. For all of us and especially for the coast of North Carolina.

See, the coast of North Carolina is very special to me. While many residents flock to Myrtle and Virginia Beach when given a chance to go sit by the Atlantic, I am always in a state of contemplation wondering how long it’s going to be before I can get back our coast.

I fell in love with Coastal NC at a young age, thanks to my mama. She has always believed in exposing me to new things and experiences and trips to the beach were no different. We spent many summers trekking down the highway to The Crystal Coast aka the Southern Outer Banks for fun, adventure and family time. Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores and Atlantic Beach were our shores of choice.

Continue reading “Why I: Love the North Carolina Coast”