Laura Garriga

Marketing, PR and Communications Specialist 

Ex Professional Basketballer (Spanish National Team, IES Joaquim Blume and Purdue University)

Can you give us a brief timeline of your career within professional sport?

My career within sport began in 2002, where I was recruited by IES Joaquim Blume to become part of the Spanish National Basketball Team. In 2006 I was then fortunate enough to become part of the Purdue Women’s Basketball Team (USA) where amongst other achievements I was part of the NCAA’s Elite Eight Finals

How did you first get involved in the sport? And when did the opportunity come to join a professional club?

I started off at the age of 8 playing basketball at a recreational level, and joined IES Joaquim Blume (specialist sport and education establishment in Spain) at age 14. Aged 16 I started playing at Liga Femenina 2, the 2nd largest national league for women’s basketball, and since then I have been involved at a professional capacity. 

What was it like, to train and play as a professional athlete, with and against some of the country’s brightest talents?

Challenging would be the first word that comes to mind! There was an insane amount of pressure from coaches, fans, parents, friends and myself to succeed and be successful in one of the best teams in the country. Something though that most professional athletes come to expect!

Fulfilling would be the second word. Even though being an elite athlete is extremely draining, it is also a privilege. Being surrounded by top players and coaches is an inspirational experience that has forged my character as a person and my work discipline as a professional.

To date, what’s been your biggest sporting achievement?

Winning the Big Ten Conference (USA’s elite national college sport competition) two years in a row, and having two rings to show for an achievement like that is my proudest moment. Competing in the U.S is very different to the sport structure here in the UK, but these are massive achievements and puts you amongst the country’s elite. 

Congratulations, that’s a huge achievement for a team and individual to be part of. Within the U.S college sport structure, having completed a degree as a scholarship athlete, at what point in your career did you make the decision to combine sport and education? 

I got my first scholarship aged 14 where I was recruited to become part of the Segle XXI team in Barcelona. This scholarship consisted of being part of the national leading basketball team and joining an elite high school for athletes only.

When I was 17, I made the conscious decision to pursue my athletic career in the US. The US is the only platform where basketball and a university degree are merged in the most efficient and competitive way possible. I was extremely lucky to join Purdue University, where I became part of the most elite athletic scholarship programmes across the globe.

The transition from elite sport to the professional world must have been difficult?

In my case I never felt it to be difficult. Since a very young age my career in basketball had been increasing gradually, and playing in a professional league was simply the next natural step for me to take. My biggest support came from my teammates. They were going through the exact same changes and challenges I was, and thus I felt a natural circle of mutual backing was created. 

So tell us a little about what you have been doing more recently?

Having achieved so much as a professional basketballer, I left the sport to pursue a very different career. I am now working within Media, Communications and PR, and I have recently left Marketing specialists Buff, to move to London to further my professional career. 

Elite level sport creates skills, competencies and behaviours that businesses strive for in their employees. What do you think your time growing up within elite sport has given you?

I believe my biggest trait derived from my sporting career is perseverance and proving before requesting. In my experience, people tend to first ask for, and then they deliver. Personally, I like to have the ability and the urge to prove to an employer what I am capable of, and through those actions, establish the respect and/or value that my performance warrants. This type of approach is demanding, but it is what athletes have to show on a daily basis to reep their rewards.

Having made the transition from professional sport into the commercial world, how do you think elite level athletes can transfer their success to business?

Elite athletes know what it is like to fail. It sounds like something everyone experiences in their life, but most people’s failures growing up scarcely affect many other people at the same time. For an athlete that is not the case. We have to come to terms with the fact that making a mistake, loosing or simply coming second is going to affect a team, managers/coaches, fans, sponsors, the city or club, family, friends, and lastly yourself. There is a factor of responsibility and expectations that you learn how to balance and manage from a very young age, and that is something that is difficult to acquire before 10 years of working experience.

And finally, what advice would you give to professional athletes who are making the transition into the professional world? 

I would tell them to rely on what they have achieved, but also to be aware of their weaknesses. As athletes we have had the chance to experience both failure and success and both situations teach us a great deal. As athletes we can market ourselves as hardworking, perseverant, responsible and above all competitive. Competitiveness brings out efficiency, and efficiency is a key element in any professional environment. These I think are aspects that people in work, can really learn from, and athletes can use these to lead by example.