Bigger than Basketball
Sophia Young-Malcolm, B.A. ’06, is a legendary name at Baylor. She won a national championship as a player, she is a member of the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame, and she remains among the top five in most major program records. An all-around fan favorite, her imprint on Baylor Women’s Basketball is undisputed. She now hopes to make a further impact on the program.
Last spring, Young-Malcolm was named assistant athletic director for player development on Baylor Head Coach Nicki Collen’s staff. She was one of Collen’s first hires. It is a position that allows Young-Malcolm to invest in women’s basketball players and prepare them to be champions for life.
“College students are at such a pivotal age, and it has been on my heart for a while to invest in their lives,” Young-Malcolm says. “God had been putting it in my spirit to pursue a role like this, but I hadn’t imagined that it would be at Baylor. The door was open, and I feel like I’m exactly where I should be.”
A West Indies native who discovered basketball in high school, Young-Malcolm developed into one of the nation’s top players and a two-time All-American at Baylor. She is one of seven players in Baylor history to amass at least 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, and she was named most valuable player at the 2005 Women’s Basketball Final Four in Indianapolis as Baylor claimed its first of three national titles in the sport.
Young-Malcolm was selected by the San Antonio Silver Stars with the fourth overall pick in the 2006 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Draft. She became one of the franchise’s most decorated players and a three-time WNBA All-Star.
On the court and off, Young-Malcolm has already lived the same experiences as the players she now serves at Baylor, and she has been places they hope to go. She draws on the quieter experiences she had at Baylor — away from the crowds and limelight and into the more personal moments where professors, coaches and chaplains invested in her as a person.
“Being at Baylor was foundational to my development — spiritually, academically and more,” Young-Malcolm says. “From an academic standpoint, the love and care professors showed us was special. They genuinely cared and pushed me to succeed.”
Young-Malcolm says access to pastors, Chapel and Fellowship of Christian Athletes was pivotal in her spiritual development at Baylor.
“Being a student-athlete is not as glamorous as it may seem,” she says. “It’s a lot of hard days where you wonder how you’re going to be able to do it. To have people outside of the basketball court who are invested in your spiritual development was so important when you’re getting pulled in different directions.”
That type of support plays an important role as she now serves this generation’s student-athletes. As assistant athletic director for player development, Young-Malcolm is the liaison between Baylor’s Student-Athlete Center for Excellence (SACE) and the women’s basketball program. More specifically, she works to develop student-athletes as whole persons, guided by four pillars: mentorship, spiritual development, career development and community service. SACE provides programming that advances the Baylor Athletics Department’s vision of Preparing Champions for Life.
While she had not thought of it in those exact words, Young-Malcolm says Preparing Champions for Life exemplifies what she had in mind when she first felt called to work with college students.
“I love the fact that Baylor is doing it intentionally, that we’re giving it a name and hiring people to make sure that it is accomplished,” she says. “In Coach Nicki, you have someone who loves people beyond the sport and beyond what we’re trying to accomplish on the floor. There’s a person behind the athlete, and she’s a leader who demonstrates that.”
Young-Malcolm leads programmatic elements that involve the entire team such as devotionals, community service opportunities or connections to help players envision and advance careers beyond basketball. Many important moments, however, are not scheduled but develop from simply being present when players need her.
“I set goals that are tangible in our four pillars, and I aim to be a consistent presence for the moments both big and small when someone needs to talk,” she says. “We all need a mentor and someone we can relate to, and I want to be there in the moments that may not seem like a big deal, but they are a big deal.”
Fans also will benefit from Young-Malcolm’s return to Baylor as she is color analyst for women’s basketball radio broadcasts. Her husband of seven years, Jermaine Malcolm, and their children Skye and Sevyn attend every home game and are becoming immersed in the Baylor Family, as well.
“Coming back to Baylor wasn’t something that was on our radar, but it’s been such a blessing,” she says. “I’m blown away by God’s goodness and faithfulness to bring us back to the place where it all started for me. It’s purposeful and meaningful, and bigger than basketball.”