When Tiffany Gooden’s basketball career ended, she had another chance as a lawyer to go a lot of places in the next stage of her life.
She chose to return home and make a positive impact on the Fort Wayne community as well as the athlete of today. That’s one reason Gooden will receive the 2013 Nancy Rehm Award between games at the 21st annual Nancy Rehm/Border Wars Classic on Saturday. The Nancy Rehm Award has been given out annually since 1982 to an individual or group who is an influential part of women’s athletics.
Gooden was a 1994 Miss Basketball and All-American player at Snider. She also played at Iowa and professionally. After getting her law degree, Gooden practiced in Fort Wayne, recently as a founding partner at Hall & Gooden LLP.
I had a very positive upbringing in the city of Fort Wayne, and I had a lot of community and family support, and I always felt like in my heart it was important for me to give back to the community for which I came, Gooden said. I could have practiced (law) anywhere throughout the country, but I made a conscious effort to come back and give up my time and talents to the next generation and to the city to try to contribute as much I can to the continued development of our youth.
Gooden has already been a part of a group that was awarded the Rehm Award with her involvement in getting the girls basketball state finals to Fort Wayne for two years as part of the Fort Wayne Sports Corp., an organization for which she will serve as president until September and has been a member for years.
The Fort Wayne Sports Corp. was a great opportunity to utilize my gifts and talents, Gooden said.
The Tiffany Gooden Award was established in her honor in 1994, and it has been given out each year to the best boys or girls basketball player in the SAC. Gooden, the first recipient of the award, helps determine the winner, thanks to her knowledge for are players through her attendance at numerous basketball games in the city each year. Northrop senior Bryson Scott received this year’s Tiffany Gooden Award on Monday at a ceremony co-sponsored by The Journal Gazette and SportsONE Ortho Northeast.
Gooden often gets a chance to speak with the current crop of high school basketball players at banquets, ceremonies or at games.
I tell them to stay humble and continue to work hard, Gooden said. Sometimes when young people start to get recognized and acknowledged, they don’t know how to handle the success. For me, it was just as important to stay humble throughout every stage of the process and that helped my development as a person, not only on the court but my off-court development and community contributions as well.
When I see these young people, I tell them to remember how much work they had to put into to get to this point and know that they are going to have to continue to work hard to make it at the next level.