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Stacey Little - Ball Smart. Ball Hard.

Team player. Team builder.

Stacey Little learning how to pass her knowledge on.

Stacey, a Cleveland native, is pursuing a coaching degree in Sport & Exercise Studies. She’s learning how to design conditioning programs for youth of different ages and abilities, develop a philosophy of coaching, and interact with parents. She also has an internship as an assistant to the Columbus State Women’s Basketball team, running drills and helping the Lady Cougars raise their game.

“Coaching is something I’ve always wanted to do since I started playing basketball,” Stacey said. “You need to pass your knowledge on.”

A high school basketball star, Stacey got a scholarship to play ball at a four-year college, but she didn’t finish. Five years ago, she decided to move to Columbus – and that led to Columbus State.

But her Columbus State career really took off when she saw a flyer for the Collegiate Leadership Conference of Ohio, an annual program produced by the college’s Student Engagement and Leadership department. The conference was interesting, but more importantly, she started meeting people on campus.

“I tell people all the time, if I had been as involved during my first go-round in college, I would have succeeded,” Stacey said.

Stacey is now working on campus as a Diversity Peer Educator, assisting students in the Global Diversity and Inclusion office and helping with events such as the college’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. Columbus State encompasses people of all ages, faiths and ethnic backgrounds.

“Columbus State is probably the most diverse place that I have ever been,” Stacey said. “You need to be open to different people, experience different things, and expand your mind.”

In her spare time, Stacey is working to found a group called “Ball Smart. Ball Hard” to provide after-school sports and mentoring to high school students who are at-risk or have had brushes with the law. In addition to sports, the program will include lessons on life skills like setting goals and sticking to a plan.

More importantly, kids learn that someone is rooting for them. Through sports, kids learn that coaches want to see them reach their goals and parents are on their team.

“Sports teaches them that people want to see them do well,” Stacey said.