There aren’t a lot of guys who can claim to have played basketball in college for Hall of Fame Coach Geno Auriemma. But it has been part of Shane Young’s UConn experience. Young is a practice player with Women’s Basketball, joining the practices two days a week as part of a rotation of 20 guys.
That’s not, however, what brought him to UConn. Growing up in a legacy family, Young says he was drawn to the University by its business school and the opportunity for academic success.
So yours is a UConn family?
My mom, brother, and sister all came here. My brother and sister are twins, five years older than me. I came up to visit them all the time. So I got a great sense of UConn, and I thought I would not only fit in but be successful here.
How did you choose your major?
I knew I liked math and I liked business, and I didn’t want to be an accountant. But I knew that you can apply finance to any type of business. My parents are both business owners.
Do you have specific career goals?
I have an internship this summer with TD Securities in New York City. Hopefully that will give me a better idea of whether I want to do investment banking. I had an internship last summer, too, for an insurance company.
Are there particular programs or people that are helping you move closer to your career goal?
Yes, the UConn Consulting Group has been instrumental in my development. We’re a management consulting group with a strong alumni advisor base. We work with real companies on semester-long projects, helping with whatever issues they come to us with.
Recently you were named a Babbidge Scholar, which means you earned a 4.0 two consecutive semesters. What’s the secret to convincing professors in so many different courses that you’ve mastered the material?
It’s different for every class, but once you come up with a plan for how to go about learning the material, it makes it a lot easier. I figured out how to do well in high school, but college is more intense in how much you’re responsible for outside of class, so I had to make some adjustments.
You’re also a practice player with the Women’s Basketball team. You must be pretty good to play with the UConn women! Why did you decide not to be a college player yourself?
My dad’s still asking that question! For most of my life leading up to college, I spent a lot of time on basketball. But I knew college basketball wasn’t for me. I wanted to focus on my career more, and I knew that if I played in college, I wouldn’t be as focused on my academics or be as able to do internships and join clubs. It was a tough decision at the time, but one I’m glad I made.
Young at a Women’s Basketball practice getting direction from Associate Head Coach Chris Dailey ’99 M.Ed. on how to guard Napheesa Collier ’19 (CLAS). The tattoo is a Bible verse his mom always told him, Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
They say the WBB practices are tougher than the games. What’s a practice like?
It is tough! As practice players, we’re doing whatever Geno wants from us, whether it’s playing defense on them or getting rebounds for them, or playing offense, acting as players on the opposing team that they’re about to play.
Do you get teased playing with the women?
No, they’re really nice. They definitely know that they’re better than us, and they love rubbing that in our faces! But it’s great, because it makes us competitive and that’s what they want from us, to be as competitive as we can, so we’re giving them a challenge. So it’s cool.
Are there any opportunities for romance between the practice players and the team?
No! No, no! Most of them, I think they’re actually dating other athletes. They told us right away, don’t even try.
The players told you?
No, the coaches. I’m not going to get in trouble with Geno!
I saw a photo from your Alternative Spring Break this year. What was that like?
Fifty of us took a bus to Detroit. Each day, we did something different. We went to a food bank and did some organizing and packaging of food; we went to one of the poorest schools in Detroit and got to talk with some of the kids. It was a great learning experience.
How do you spend your free time?
The free time that I have, I have to carefully plan for. I try to set blocks of time in the week. A lot of times, that’s going to the gym or working out — something that relieves my stress. This semester, I’ve also made time for seeing friends more, because especially in my first year at UConn, I was really focused on academics. But this year, I’ve built so many relationships that mean so much to me that I think it’s crucial for me — in order to be happy and continue to have the drive that I have — to also spend time with the people I care about.
Do you have items on your bucket list to do before you graduate?
I want to join the Student Managed Fund.
What advice would you give an incoming student?
It’s cliché, but I would say try your hardest to get involved with things as soon as you get here. Find groups and things that you’re passionate about, and join new things that you don’t think you’d really enjoy. I didn’t think I would like consulting, but I joined the UConn Consulting Group, and that has been one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me.
So I would say get involved, put yourself out there, and challenge yourself with new things and new groups, because you learn so much and you grow as a person, and you meet people that are just going to be there for you and be so important in your college life.
By Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu
Photos by Sean Flynn and Peter Morenus