As a former female student-athlete at Andover, Executive Director of Vanessa Bryant’s Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation Kat Conlon ’04 hopes to promote a more inclusive era in sports. Conlon supports Kobe Bryant and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant’s dream of young women having an equal opportunity to succeed throughout their lives.
After being awarded a Phelps Scholarship as an athlete, Conlon now looks to give back to those in need using the Non Sibi mentality she learned at Andover. According to Conlon, she never would have been able to attend Andover without financial assistance, which is a big reason why she hopes to give back to athletes in need.
Conlon said, “The whole school motto of Non Sibi was something that I’ve been actively involved in since graduating. Honestly, just knowing that there was somebody out there [who] I never even met who was going to support me and the greatest opportunity of my life at the time, to go to PA, was something that I hoped to contribute to in some way in my own career someday and that was always important to me.”
As a basketball player, Bryant was someone Conlon looked up to throughout her high school and college career. According to Conlon, she followed his development from his high school days and all the way through his NBA career.
“[Working at this foundation is] really a dream job for me when I think about being a young girl and following [Bryant’s] career, and just how much admiration I had for him, the ‘Mamba mentality,’ that he’s supportive, and just this grit that he had and [his] complete confidence in everything that he did on and off the court. It was something that I really admired growing up, so this is honestly a dream opportunity for me to be able to help honor the things that I loved about [Bryant] and things that I saw in [his daughter],” said Conlon.
After Bryant and his daughter passed away on January 26, 2020, his wife updated his original foundation called the Mamba Sports Foundation, into the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, to emphasize the impact his daughter has on the foundation.
Conlon originally gravitated toward Bryant and the Mamba & Mambacita Foundation after seeing how she was able to channel her grief into being a role model for her children, as well as all young athletes. As the Executive Director of the program, Conlon strives to emulate this selflessness.
“I heard about the job after [Bryant] and [his daughter] passed, and I heard about the foundation that [the Bryant family] supported [before]. So I have always admired [Bryant] in the way that she has been a leader philanthropically,” said Conlon.
Conlon added, “We hope to instill in young women confidence and a sense that they can do anything that they want to do and [that they can use] basketball and sports as a means to get there, but also instilling the values that sports bring to young athletes that are transferable to really anything else in life. We’ll be doing camps for underserved athletes and not just basketball, we are supporting volleyball players right now, and boys and girls across different athletic leagues and teams so it’s really just [about] instilling confidence in these young athletes.”
Before donating money to a foundation, Conlon encourages people to find a platform that they feel connected to and a space where they want to leave their mark.
“It may not be us, but there are so many great not-for-profit [organizations] and there are so many great causes that people can get involved with, for us, if you are passionate about helping underserved athletes and young women in sports, then that’s something that we do really well. [Bryant’s] brand is really strong and I think that people all over the world admire him which affords us partnerships and opportunities with some of the greatest organizations in the world, but if your interests lie [with another platform], my message would be, find some way to get involved and to give back because there is a lot of help that we can all do in our own way, and I think that working with not-for-profits is a good place to start,” said Conlon.