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Manitoba Bisons head coach Michele Sung (centre) against the Winnipeg Wesmen in Duckworth Challenge basketball at Investors Group Athletic Centre on Thursday, November 21, 2019 (Dave Mahussier, Bison Sports)

Mentoring Mondays: Michele Sung

‘Your job is not who you are, it's what you do’

January 18, 2021 — 

January is National Mentoring Month, and every Monday we’ll highlight notable UM alumni who are sharing advice with others through UM Cafe: the university’s online mentorship platform.

Despite decades of success on the basketball court, Michele Sung [BKin/09] believes winning isn’t the be-all-end-all for student-athletes. Instead, she prioritizes the personal growth of her players through a love for the game and community involvement.

Bisons women’s basketball coach, and UM Cafe mentor, Michele Sung.

During her undergrad, Sung became a mentor coach for Indigenous youth and at summer camps, receiving the Sylvia Sweeney award for outstanding achievement in sport, academics, and community service. As an alumna, she’d go on to play in Europe before helping coach Team Canada U16 to a gold medal at the 2015 FIBA America’s Championship. She is currently in her 7th year as head coach for the Bisons women’s basketball team.

What is the best career advice you have received? 

Don’t avoid change or challenges. A lot of the time solutions and taking the next step forward involve change, which can be uncomfortable. But we want to continue to grow, improve and be passionate about our work for both the benefit of our jobs but also to keep our careers exciting.   

What do you feel you have gained from being a mentor?  

Being a mentor has allowed me to step back and really look at my strengths and weaknesses and reflect on things that have really helped me develop as a professional. It also has challenged me to look at coaching from different perspectives and learn creative ways to be collaborative.  

What advice would you give someone beginning their career this year?  

Like all professions this year has been challenging, especially with little to no sport training or events. But it has allowed us time to step back and re-evaluate what we love about our work and what its true purpose is. I tell our student-athletes all the time “your sport is NOT who you are, it is something you do”. Which I think is important when first starting your career – your job is not who you are it’s what you do. So put in the extra time, learn from experienced co-workers, and jump into all of it – just make sure you don’t define yourself by the success or failure of the work/money/task completed. Make it about how much you can you grow as a person and impact those around you.  

Through UM Cafe, it’s easier than ever for alumni and students to connect virtually from anywhere in Canada and around the world. Go to UMCafe to sign up as a mentor or mentee, or for more information.

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