Standing 6 feet 4 inches at 14 years of age, LaChina Robinson towered over her peers in her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. Though she wanted to be a cheerleader, after continually being asked by a neighborhood coach to try basketball, she finally gave in. It was in playing basketball that Robinson found her voice and a platform that became a foundation for a career in sports.
Robinson is a sports analyst who has interviewed prominent figures and covered marquis NBA, WNBA, and NCAA events for outlets including ESPN and NBA TV. She also started Stretch Beyond, an organization that helps young student-athletes build character.
One of 16 children, Robinson was the only one of her brothers and sisters to graduate from college. She received a scholarship to play basketball at Wake Forest for four years; she believes that sports exposed her to something different and may explain why her path is different from that of her siblings.
After graduating, Robinson worked in Athletic Administration for Georgia Tech. It was there that she helped women student athletes to develop their skills on and off the court, but that was only the beginning. After seizing the opportunity to try out color commentating, Robinson felt alive and fulfilled and decided to pursue a career in sports broadcasting.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Robinson while she was in New York for the American Athletic Conference Basketball Media Days:
BlackEnterprise.com: How did you first get into broadcasting?
LaChina Robinson: I went from wanting to be a lawyer growing up, to wanting to be an athletic administrator in college, though when I got into it, I still felt like something was missing. One day when I was working at Georgia Tech and I was traveling, they asked me to be a color commentator. I said I’ll try and it really changed my life forever.
You speak a lot about the importance of mentoring. What does mentoring mean to you?
Robinson: Mentoring is a way to help other people avoid some of the pitfalls and failures you’ve had. It can serve a lot of purposes. It is why I started my organization Stretch Beyond, to provide a formal structure to connecting young girls in the community to mentors who were doing what they aspire to do.
I’m passionate about those connections because I see how powerful they can be. I wouldn’t be in broadcasting if it weren’t for my mentors opening doors, making phone calls, and really putting me in the position to do what I am doing today.
What insights do you wish you had while you were in college?
I wish that I had maximized my time more. I wanted to sleep all the time. I thought about relationships and hanging out with my friends. All that’s cool, but I don’t think I worked on my character enough. When I left college I still didn’t really know what I stood for or what my values were.
Though I grew a lot in basketball, to me the biggest thing young women need to know is who they are. I had to go through that process a lot later in life. I believe the more centered you are, the stronger you are in your beliefs, leadership, and passion about what you want to pursue in life, because you know what you stand for.
What are some tips you have for upcoming broadcasters?
Be relentless. You have to know that it is a very competitive industry and that it comes with a lot of responsibility because there are others coming behind you that want the same thing.
Have confidence. The only way that you can develop confidence is through preparation. Do your homework. You owe it to the fans and to yourself.
Stay at it. Don’t listen to anyone telling you no. Doors will close and there will be people that don’t believe that you can do it, but you can as long as you believe in yourself.
Mia Hall, (@mia_halldaily) is a freelance reporter, speaker, and host who focuses on the sports industry. She speaks and writes about personal development, diversity in sports business careers, community outreach, mentorship, and accountability. When she’s not speaking or hosting events in her role as a Community Manager at Barclays Center, she shares her stories, advice, videos, and musings on her personal blog, Mia’s Full Court Press.