Alumni “SportStory”: Ashley Combs & the Spur’s Learn & Play Center

Alumni “SportStory”: Ashley Combs & the Spur’s Learn & Play Center


As a part of a new series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, Ashley Combs (Master of Education – Sport Management, UConn 2014), shares a “SportStory” about helping to deliver a remarkable community legacy project with the San Antonio Spurs:

Ashley Combs (’14)


Growing up, I always imagined that I would work for an NBA team, but I had never considered what it might feel like to be a part of a team that was competing to win an NBA championship. Further, I never imagined that I would work on a project that would serve as an integral part of my organization’s NBA Finals experience. The San Antonio Spurs’ run in 2013 was memorable, but my 2014 NBA Finals experience included working on a project that would teach me a great deal about how to be a successful leader.

During the NBA Finals, participating teams are asked to create a new Learn & Play Center that will serve the community. Work on the project begins in April and if your team makes it, will culminate in a nationally televised event where current and former players help to dedicate the new space. The 2014 project had both challenges and highlights. Some of the challenges faced included getting enough funding to create the type of lasting impact that we were hoping to create. Deadlines also served as a major challenge, as the opportunity to complete and display all the hard work that my group put in depended solely on the work that our team did on the basketball court.

I also had to manage not only multiple elements of the project, but also colleagues from our team and the NBA, vendors, etc. to execute the project. The project was all worth it when we finally unveiled our newest Learn & Play Center. The school that we worked with, its students, our players, executives and local dignitaries were blown away by the work we had done and acknowledged that the contributions that we made would be impacting the quality of education that students in our community would experience for years to come.

Check out a great video snapshot of the Spur’s Learn & Play Center by clicking here.