Lynx forward Christmas-Kelly returns from injury with a nice prize: a Harvard education
MINNEAPOLIS -- Let’s just say Minnesota Lynx forward Karima Christmas-Kelly stayed extremely busy this offseason.
Yes, she worked tirelessly to recover from season-ending surgery on her right knee. Even better, she graduated from Harvard.
Well, the Crossover Into Business program conducted by the Harvard Business School, actually, though that’s neither here nor there.
“It’s still Harvard, right?” Christmas-Kelly said with a laugh.
Launched about two years ago as a way to prepare professional athletes for the next step in their lives, the Crossover Into Business program is a semester-long endeavor that matches professional athletes with a pair of MBA student mentors currently enrolled in the Harvard Business School.
Lynx guard Seimone Augustus and former NBA star Chris Bosh are past graduates of the program.
And now Christmas-Kelly can add her name to that list. She got accepted in January and graduated in April after what she described as “a three-month crash course.”
“It was a really great experience,” she said. “We got to do orientation and actually go up there and spend a couple of days on campus and sit in on class and see what it’s like. That was really eye opening. It was like, ‘Wow. I’m really here.’ Just tried to soak it all in and not take it for granted.”
As for the actual curriculum, most of the semester was conducted remotely, with different case study assigned on a weekly basis.
“I would FaceTime with my mentors at the end of each week,” Christmas-Kelly said. “I would give my thought process on how I would handle a certain situation and we would kind of go back and forth from there. It was interesting to see the different ways we looked at the same thing.”
Besides some of the intricacies of the business world, perhaps the biggest thing Christmas-Kelly learned through the Crossover Into Business program was how to stand up for her own ideas.
“I’ve always kind of struggled with that,” she said. “I’ve always been more of the person that leads by example. In this program, I had to state my opinions and defend why I had those opinions. It helped make me a better vocal leader in a sense. And it’s definitely translated on the court as far as me being able to speak my mind and let my teammates know what I’m seeing.”
Already equipped with a double major in marketing and sociology from Duke, and a Master’s in sports management from Adelphi, Christmas-Kelly feels ready now for the day her playing career ends.
“I’m always trying to prepare myself for life after basketball,” she said. “I want to be an athletic director on the collegiate side and then maybe open up my own gym down the road.”
That will have to wait, though, because as far as Christmas-Kelly is concerned, she still has a lot left in the tank. She signed with the Lynx this offseason hoping to be a stabilizing force in the front court, and that’s exactly what she plans to be once she returns from her injury.
“I’m feeling good,” she said. “It’s just day by day coming back from this. You never really know what to expect. I worked really hard in the offseason trying to get to a place where I can perform at a high level on the court. I’m getting close. I’m just trying to be patient with it because I want to make sure I can play a full season once I’m back.”