Nearly 51 years after the organization expelled Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the Summer Olympics,
There are very few women owned sports teams. There are even less sports teams owned by a young Black woman. Khalia Collier, owner and general manager of the St. Louis Surge, is doing her part to change that.
The opportunity to create something in my city I know I never had the opportunity to experience as a kid. To show and prove that a women’s franchise is not only viable but sustainable in the market. I have been able to do by taking a different approach by how we recruit, market and build our fan base.
The most rewarding by far is seeing the look on kids faces when they experience a game and see what’s possible, not just by seeing players on the court but by seeing black leadership especially strong women pursuing their dreams on and off the court.
To build a brand from scratch takes a lot of hard work and just pure determination and to see your hard work pay off each season is one of the best feelings in the world, winning championships is just the cherry on top.
The most challenging think about owning a basketball team is constantly educating and validating the product to gain the earned exposure and sponsorship needed to grow the franchise.
Fighting an uphill battle can be exhausted and sometimes it is incredibly frustrating to convince big brands and media to not just focus on what is perceived to be mainstream, but then I smile and say that is my job, the job that I love!
Once we get you in the stands or expose to the Surge brand we have now earned yet another fan that understands what we are building beyond just the game.
My responsibility as a woman is to create more opportunities for women that look like me not just providing a platform for professional athletes but leadership and front office positions. Once the door is open it is my responsibility to leave it open for all of the incredible women willing and prepared to work hard to achieve their dreams.
By 2024 we will have been growing for over a decade as an established brand, entertainment attraction in the city, but more importantly, we will have grown our community of fans exponentially who are committed to positive energy.
Going from location, to national to global impacting women’s sports in such a way it is hard to not take notice and want to be a part of something bigger than yourself.
-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (Instagram @thebusyafrican)