Game-Changing Mentorship: Leading with Collaboration

Sacramento Kings and UC Davis MBAs team up for Fastbreak Mentoring Program

a group shot of mentees and MBA students at Golden 1 Center
UC Davis MBA mentors and mentees gather at Golden 1 Center during a Sacramento Kings game. (Photo courtesy of Kritika Singh MBA 24)

Mentorship has been incredibly impactful in my personal and professional life, and I’ve been fortunate to have some wonderful people guiding me to get where I am today.

Having benefitted greatly from a community of mentorship, I jumped at the opportunity to join the Fastbreak Mentorship Program, a collaboration between UC Davis Graduate School of Management, the Sacramento Kings, MENTOR California, and Improve Your Tomorrow (IYT).

As the higher education partner of the Sacramento Kings NBA team, the Graduate School of Management teamed up with the Kings Fastbreak Mentoring Program to pair MBAs as mentors for local college students. MENTOR California provided coaching on effective mentorship and Improve Your Tomorrow helped matched mentees with our MBA mentors.

My Community of Mentors

Growing up I was very involved in the YMCA community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, attending afterschool programs, volunteering through “Leader’s Club” and working as a summer camp counselor. I am grateful to have a strong mentor from this program that I maintain a relationship with to this day. 

When I moved away from my hometown in 2018, I didn’t give much thought to what leaving this aspect of my community would mean. And to be fair, I didn’t really miss it at first, or at least I thought I didn’t.

I had my journey to focus on, starting my career, moving across the country, there was plenty to worry about. My relationship with mentorship evolved. It shifted more professional. But reflecting back on this journey, I realize I always had support when I needed it, a rock to fall back on. I can’t understate the value in that. When I learned about the Fastbreak Mentorship Program, something inside me realized that I had been neglecting something very important, and that part of me said yes to the opportunity before I could think of a reason not to.  

(Video courtesy of @kings_community on Instagram)

Inspiring Others to Achieve

The mission of Improve Your Tomorrow is to increase the number of young men of color to attend and graduate from colleges and universities. “Brothers”, as IYT calls them, don’t have a great support system and have significant challenges to overcome.

IYT places “Mentors”, often college students, in middle schools and high schools to get to know the Brothers and guide them down a path towards college or a stable job

The Sacramento Kings partnered with the Graduate School of Management, IYT and MENTOR California to provide an additional layer of mentorship on top of the existing structure. UC Davis MBA students served as mentors for local college students in the IYT program, many of whom are mentors themselves. The Kings have facilitated this and provided a platform to build these relationships.

At our first event, a Sacramento Kings home game vs. the Atlanta Hawks, we arrived at Golden 1 Center three hours before tip-off. We met our mentees and were treated to an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the arena, meeting leaders of Kings business groups at every step of the way.

A Kings home game involves 15-20 basketball players on any given night, but the logistics are immense, involving more than 1,000 staff to make it happen.

For example, we met with the executive chef, the director of logistics/operations, and the lead within the broadcasting and operations room. This was eye-opening for everyone.

And then, to cap it all off, we got to hangout, relax and watch a great basketball game!

a group of MBA students seated at a round table
Jack Schaufler (left) with fellow UC Davis MBA students participating as mentors in the Kings Fastbreak Mentoring Program, including from left to right: Shaun Shah, Josue Robles, Esther Muriithi, Marisol Ibarra, Ryan Reyes Advincula, Daniel Menoncin, Jasdeep "Jesse" Singh and Kritika Singh. (Photo courtesy of Kritika Singh MBA 24)

Game On: Networking and Career Readiness

It can be intimidating trying to think about what to do with your career if you haven’t found that calling yet, it’s something that some people spend their whole lives trying to figure out.

The Kings provided a forum for the mentees, and even many of us UC Davis student mentors, to think harder about what our skills and interests are, and how those might be applied in a variety of potential careers. The Graduate School of Management staff also presented on career readiness and educational pathways.

Since our first meeting, I’ve spent more time with my two mentees and have built the foundation for a good relationship. They’re both fantastic young adults who work hard and are already a positive influence on so many.

The truth is they don’t need me, they’re going to be just fine. But I hope that I can offer something small, helping with academics, how to approach starting a career after school, serving as reliable support during challenges, or being a sounding board over coffee.

The Graduate School of Management’s emphasis on the power of a network, and further extending that network's influence into the Sacramento community, is a cause I fully support.

I’d like to thank all the partners for giving me and the other mentors an opportunity to step further into this community. IYT and Mentor California are doing amazing work. They deserve all the recognition.