When Tammy Brawner graduated from Dominican University of California with her MBA last year, she had a dream of traveling the world and someday working for Google. She never dreamed of playing for the Harlem Globetrotters.
“It’s almost like a fairy tale,” said Brawner, who graduated in 2004 from Oakland’s Skyline High.
Though she averaged 8.5 points in 43 career games for Dominican’s women’s basketball team as a Global Management graduate student, Brawner exhibited a passion and flair for the game that her coach at Dominican, Brianna Chambers, believed could serve her well in professional basketball.
“That’s why I liked her,” Chambers says. “I like a little flash from my point guards.”
The Cinderella-like story of how Brawner became a Globetrotter started when she became a Lady Penguin at Dominican.
Chambers was searching for a point guard during the summer of 2009 and talked to Skyline High School girls coach Shawn Hipol.
Brawner has a degree from Cal State Northridge in criminal justice and also has earned her master’s degree in Global Management.
Chambers strongly encouraged Brawner to continue playing basketball after graduating from Dominican. The Penguin’s head coach inspired Brawner to keep her hoop dreams alive.
While Brawner was contemplating choosing between a career in basketball as a collegiate coach and a career in business as a manager, she coached her younger sister, Tiffany Rivers, at Skyline High.
Rivers was named Most Valuable Player in the Oakland Athletic League last season, but her big sister trumped her this summer. Brawner’s agent at XTreme Heat Sports Management, based in Houston, was shopping her highlight video around to women’s professional basketball teams overseas. A tape also was sent to the Globetrotters.
They invited Brawner to a two-hour tryout/scrimmage in New Jersey and were so impressed that they signed her to a contract.
Brawner becomes the 10th female in the 87-year history of the famous traveling troupe to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, only the third female in the past 20 years.
She hopes to meet Globetrotters’ legend and dribbling whiz Curly Neal and travel to China – one of her goals as a MBA grad at Dominican — but the moment she most anticipates is the day she officially begins playing every day with the Globetrotters.
She left the day after Thanksgiving to travel overseas with the team to entertain military troops before the Globetrotters begin their North American Tour on Dec. 26. On Jan. 19, she and the Globetrotters will come home to Oakland and play in the Oakland Arena where Brawner first saw the Globetrotters play when she was nine years old.
“I just remember thinking I had never seen anything like it in my life. I remember the players doing things with a basketball I never imagined were possible,” Brawner says. “But never in a million years did I ever think that one day I would be playing with them.”