Monday, November 3, 2014

The Momager is In | Getting Inspired with Stephen McDowell

Yep, basketball season is officially underway so what better time to share some inspiration with my Momager girlfriends and bring back "The Momager Is In" series.  Luckily I have the greatest story to share with you.  Point Guard Stephen McDowell is celebrating his success with a new professional team but the road to get here wasn't always easy.  The greatest thing is that his faith never wavered.  Read our interview below about how he didn't let his dreams diminish even in the roughest of life challenges.

How old were you when you realized basketball was something you were serious about?

I was 9 years old when I started playing organized basketball. Football was my first love. However, I was a lot smaller than my peers. So by age 14 I decided to let go of football and focus solely on basketball.

Who has been your biggest influences in basketball?

My biggest influences in life have certainly been my parents. My mother mainly stressed the importance of academics, my father focused on entrepreneurship and athletics, and they equally encouraged us to pursue our dreams wholeheartedly. So I have to say, without a doubt, my parents were and still are my role models. 

Where did you attend college?

I attended the University of South Carolina for two years and I finished up at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Recently you experienced a difficult time.  Can you give me some of the high's and low's you experienced during that time?

My 27th year on this earth was the roughest year of my life. In December of that year, I worked out a deal with my team in Iceland to leave that organization in order to pursue what I believed to be a better opportunity with another team. Turned out to be a dead end as the new deal fell through and I couldn't find another team to sign me for the entire year. That's 12 straight months of training and doing everything I knew to stay sharp and believe that somehow, some way a door would open for me to continue to play the game I love. 3 months passed and I stayed in the gym, believing that something would shake, I just had to stay ready. God ended up opening a door through one of my old coaches for me to go out to Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas, NV for 3 months to intern as a
basketball trainer while training myself on the side. This was just to keep myself in the basketball loop. I had no idea when I left my hometown in March that would be the last time I would see my dad alive. My dad survived a heart transplant 7 years earlier and ended up passing away June 12, 2013. He went in for what we all thought to be just another regular check-up to ensure things were going well with his heart. I spoke to him the day before he went in and we joked and laughed as we always did. But he did tell me he was in extreme pain and that he wasn't able to keep any food down. I'll never forget the sound of my mother's voice when she called crying in a way I've NEVER heard her cry before telling me that my dad passed away and that I just needed to come home.
I came home to spend time with my family, and celebrate my dad's life with family and friends. Ended up getting a job working the night shift at a local Walmart to make some money and allow myself to train during the day. I have to admit, it was during this time I was at my lowest. Almost 9 months had passed and I still had no offers. I'm working in the freezer section thinking to myself and sometimes getting frustrated with God saying to myself and Him that I know you gave me this gift, there's nothing I can do to open the door. I need you to shift things on my behalf, not because I've earned it, not because I deserve it but because You love me. Because Jesus Christ laid the price for me to be blessed, to be successful and prosper now on this earth, and because of your grace, which allowed me to see this day and brought me this far in life. A month later, a close friend of my dad's stepped up and offered to purchase me a flight to Switzerland in order to make myself more marketable to pro teams in Europe. 
I forgot to mention that during this time, while it seemed like everything was going crazy externally, God was pulling on my heart now more than ever, drawing me closer and closer to Him, and increasing my dependence on Him. 
With the new door open in Switzerland, I continued to train and actually signed a contract with a team in the top league only to have it voided the as the team was not able to secure a work permit for me. Now I was back to square one, grinding daily to develop the gifts I knew God had given me with no outlet to display it. Something deep inside my heart told me to keep pushing. That no matter what it looked like, God already had a door open, He was just preparing me so when it opened I could step through with His boldness and His confidence and shine in a manner that brings Him glory. December 2013, my old trainer from Indianapolis contacted me about an opportunity in Canada to play for the London Lightning. After 12 months of having every thought known to man run through my mind, including stints of depression where I doubted things would ever shift for me, I was finally able to suit up and get back to what I loved doing in January of 2014.
This is just a small glimpse into how God has shown up and showed out in my life. He can and wants to do the same for all of His children. NO MATTER WHAT things look like on the outside, continue to believe that God has something special in store for you. Just continue to persevere and push through the storm. I didn't do anything to deserve God's blessings but simply believe in His son Jesus Christ. I believed and still believe that because of the sacrifices Jesus had already made, Jesus himself paid the price for me to blessed now on this earth. My favorite scripture to describe this season of my life is from Psalm 27:13 "I would have lost heart unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Don't lose heart, just believe that you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living if you don't give up.

If you could pick an all star team who would be on it?

If I could pick an All-Star team I'd call it my All-Faith team and have players like Tamika Catchings, Stephen Curry, Jeremy Lin, Myself and a good friend of mine named Ricky Taylor who's playing professionally out in Ireland and runs his own basketball ministry.

Do you think it's important to stay in college and finish your degree program or if opportunities arise for basketball to be played should you take it?
My parents raised us to finish whatever we start so definitely believe it's important to graduate and earn your degree. If opportunities arise for you to play professional basketball, you should be smart and take that opportunity because not everyone is blessed to support their family through athletics. The monetary compensation is enormous, you can make in 3-5 years what a college graduate will make in a lifetime. So there's no question in my mind that you take advantage of the opportunity in front of you. However, I truly believe in educating oneself and learning how to manage the funds you've been blessed with so you can be a blessing to your family and others. You can play pro ball and still finish your degree during summer school and online courses.

You are heading to play in London (Canada) this season.  How is playing over seas different then being on a league in the states?

I guess it just depends on which league you're in. The top league in the world is the NBA, so if you're in the states and you're blessed with the ability and opportunity to play in the NBA, you'll be surrounded with the best of the best on and off the court. However there are many European leagues
and teams that are top notch organizations in terms of professionalism and how they treat their players. The London Lightning is definitely one of those organizations. They are first class with everything they do, from housing, to travel, to interaction with the community, and one of the most important factors to any professional athlete, they always ensure that you receive your money on time.

If you were not playing basketball what would you be doing?

I would most likely be coaching basketball. I truly love this game so it's hard to see myself not being involved in some way. Sports are a great way to reach a wide range of people from all over the world. People may not agree with your beliefs, culture, or even like where you're from, but they can appreciate your talent and skill, especially in an athletic environment. Sports are a way in. They're a way for God's love to shine through you and then once somebody actually gets to know you, and not just what you represent they'll say hey he or she is not so bad and now you have an opportunity to make a new friend and use your gift to encourage them in some way. 

Do you have any advice for young athletes that are aspiring to take their game to the next level after high school? 

Yes, every day you can be doing something to perfect your craft. Even on your "days off" you can be stretching, watching film, something. There are kids all over the world that are talented. But talent alone will not get you to the pros. You have to love what you do, and you have to WORK. There's no way around, it. Work hard daily to perfect your craft, not to be noticed by men, but to honor God by doing your best to master the gifts He's placed inside of you. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for men." (Colossians 3:23)

Greatest moment highlight would be???


The greatest moment in my career was winning the Southern Conference Championship at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Winning that game with my teammates is a moment I will never forget.

How much do you train, prepare for the season?
Honestly, I train every day. I truly believe that each day I could be doing something to get better. Even on my "days off" I do something to get better if it's weight lifting, pool conditioning, stretching, or extra film work. There's always something you can do to get just one step better. My college coach, friend, and mentor would always encourage me to get 1% better today. So I take that same approach today, if I can get 1% better everyday who knows how far I can go with this game and in life.

What impact has your family had on your playing, especially your mom?

Family is everything. I play to bring God glory and put a smile on my mom's face. She knows how much I love this game, it brings her joy to see me do my thing on the court. And it brings me joy to look out in the crowd and see her cheesing ear to ear as I'm out there doing what I do. I wear #13 because it's my mom's favorite number. At the end of the day, I just want to make her proud. She's sacrificed so much for our family to ensure that my sister, my brother, and myself can go all out for the dreams God's given us. It's only right to do our best to keep a smile on her face.

How important is nutrition to athletes?  Do you have a regimen you follow or a favorite power meal?
Nutrition is vital. I read somewhere that you can't out train a bad diet, and that is undoubtedly true. It's so important that you put good fuel into your body. Especially now that I'm a professional, my body is how I make my living. So I've taken great interest into learning how to eat healthier and choose foods that will help me maximize the body God's given me. I like to eat healthy salads, vegetables, fruit smoothies, turkey, fish, and chicken. I do my best to stay away from fast food, candy, and other sweets because I know that stuff has a negative effect on my body and can eventually effect my performance on the court.

Favorite quote or scripture

I definitely have to go back to psalms 27:13 on his one. "I would have lost heart unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

Adidas, Nike or what is your favorite brand?

I've actually started my own athletic brand. It's still small scale but I'm learning how to grow it step by step. I call it CDF Apparel right now. The letters stand for (C)reation (D)ominion (F)ruition. It comes from Genesis 1:26-28, which states we were CREATED in the image and likeness of God to have DOMINION over all the earth and produce FRUIT for God's Kingdom.

You can follow Stephen and his team The London Lightning here:  Lightening Basketball  Here's to a great season Stephen.  Looking forward to seeing your continued success!


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