A Brand New Game

For these athletes, entrepreneurship is the next playing field

Tuesdays off [from practice], so I can come in on those days,” Gadsden says. “Hopefully, we’ll have the infrastructure in place so the business can run on its own.”

When Nikki McCray, the 5-foot-11-inch guard for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, decided to become an entrepreneur, she knew she could score in the daycare industry. Launching the Halls, Tennessee-based Cubby Bear Daycare Center, located just outside of Knoxville, was a natural for the hoopster. “I think I’ve always loved kids and had a passion for kids,” McCray says. “I felt there was a need for daycare, and it’s one of those growing businesses that will always be around, like doctors and morticians. So I just thought it would be a great opportunity.”

Cubby Bear, which is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., has three playgrounds and tends to 62 children who range in age from 6 weeks to 12 years old. With a staff of 12, the center generated $500,000 in revenues for 2001. But running Cubby Bear has been no slam dunk. Staffing is always a big issue. “In daycare, the turnover is so high,” says McCray, 31. “Parents definitely like to bring kids to centers where staff members stay on a lot and that’s difficult because you get mostly part-time workers.”

Cubby Bear must also comply with a great deal of regulation. Federal law dictates that Tennessee daycare centers must have at least one adult for every four infants and no more than eight infants in any given room. “I have a room size that holds 16, but I can only fit eight kids in there. So now I have to structure my prices so I don’t lose out,” says the two-time Olympic gold winner. Cubby Bear’s fees range from $120 a week for 12 months or younger, to $95 a week for preschoolers. Its after-school rate for students in kindergarten through fifth grade is $60 during the school term and $80 during summer vacations.

McCray, whose future plans includes purchasing an apartment building and other real estate, says entrepreneurship is uncommon in the WNBA. “I think [most] don’t know what it is they want to do after basketball, but you always have to think in terms of basketball not [being] around forever,” she says. “It’s very hard to go from freedom to doing something as structured as a 9 to 5, so I figured I’d like to own my own business and go when I want to. I have someone working for me and I still [have] money coming in.”

Welterweight boxing champ Vernon Forrest has been involved with so many charitable efforts, it’s no surprise his business venture, Destiny’s Child, is devoted to community service.

After shelling out $80,000 to form the company, which involved purchasing a suburban Atlanta home in 1996, Forrest designed the facility to provide long-term care to patients with mental disabilities. Although the business isn’t highly profitable, it’s the champ’s labor of love.

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