Our first Surge Spotlight is Jacqlyn Poss, an experienced vet and world-class teammate.
Basketball has taken Jacqlyn from her hometown in Minnesota to Croatia, Luxembourg, Australia and now, St. Louis. In the following interview, Jacqlyn shares her perspective on playing overseas, maintaining life balance, and leadership.
(The following interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity).
What’s a brief intro to Jacqlyn Poss, the person?
I grew up in Minnesota. I’m a big family person and in my family we always grew up with each other as our best friends. I’ve been playing basketball since Kindergarten and I’ve always found my way back to the game in some manner, shape, or form, whether it’s playing, training, or coaching. I played at University of Denver for four years and for the past five years, I’ve been playing professionally. I played in Luxembourg, Croatia, and Australia, and now playing for the Surge is my first time playing professionally in the U.S., so I am super excited about that and having family and friends who can pop over for a game or at least be in the same time zone as me.
Who are your influences and inspirations?
My family for sure. My family is wildly loving, caring and supportive. It’s my mom and dad, and then my brother who is two years younger and my sister who is three years older. Being around that kind of supportive environment was a very nice upbringing for me. Outside of my family, honestly, a lot of people. There hasn’t been one go to person, but different people fulfill different aspects of it. First off, I have a couple of close friends that inspire me and always make me feel like 1) I can be myself and 2) I can be the best version of me.
Then, growing up I always watched the cliche Minnesota basketball idols like Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore who both played for the Lynx. Seeing a professional women’s basketball player at a young age was huge.
Finally, Chris Carr, one of my coaches growing up, really brought out the joy of basketball for me when I was young. He played in the NBA himself, and he kind of picked me out as a young fourth or fifth grader. He’s super accountable and probably was the first coach that asked, “hey, do you want to play at the next level? Is this fun for you?” and really inspired me to say, “heck yeah I do. I love this”.
Are any of the close friends you mentioned close to St. Louis?
To be honest, no, no one is here. I think the beauty of playing professional basketball is getting to travel. But that’s also a curse, because everyone you meet and every one of your teammates is spread across the world. My best friend, who went to University of Denver with me, lives out in LA. So she lives in a cool place, but it’s tough because I also don’t get to see her as much. It’s the same with teammates I’ve met overseas in Australia and such. Yeah, we get to keep up, but I don’t get to see them on a daily basis.
It’s your first season with the Surge. Everyone on the team was recruited to play here, so what was the recruiting process like for you? Who reached out to you first and what did they say that really drew you in?
Khalia reached out and she shared what this program is like with me. To be honest, before the Surge, I did not know playing in the states was an option, other than the WNBA. Right off the bat the idea of playing here grabbed my ear and got me excited. I’m someone that always respects someone that has a passion for something and right away I saw that in the way Khalia held herself and carried herself when she was talking about the Surge. The first time I talked to Coach P was on Instagram video, which was hilarious because that was my first call on Instagram video, and I saw it in her too. The opportunity to play something I love in the U.S. was definitely huge, and the parallels with myself and my values and this program and where it’s going were super exciting.
What’s your “why” to keep playing basketball? How much does it mean to you?
A lot of emotion floods me when I think about that. It’s been a huge journey – basketball has brought me to so many places in my life that I definitely wouldn’t have gone without it. First, there’s the game itself. I so easily fell in love with the game. It’s always a challenge, right? You get out what you put in. I’ve always approached challenges as opportunities. Then, of course, basketball was one of my first passions and one of the first things that I genuinely loved doing and wanted to grow and get better at, so I want to give back to little kids that have that same inspiration.
In regards to giving back, what specific avenues are you trying to impact the younger generation through?
In recent years, I’ve actually found a really nice love for training kids. Seeing the kids that truly want to be there and their eagerness gives me a lot of joy. They want to know what my experience was like and see how they can apply it to theirs and I have this amazing opportunity to be someone’s encouragement.
Between playing professional basketball and working full-time as a senior data scientist at Target, I’m sure you are a pretty busy person. Do you have any hobbies outside of basketball and data science?
Obviously basketball and work take up a lot of time, but outside of that I’m big on relationships and big on music. Spending time with friends and family is important too. Just doing things and being there for them – them knowing about you and you knowing about them – makes everything a lot sweeter.
Now that you brought up music, I have to ask. What are your top five songs at the moment?
Let’s see…by default, Basketball by Lil Bow Wow is always on that list. Break My Soul, Beyonce’s new song, is on the list too. My best friend shared that with me just yesterday and I’ve already listened to it 15 times. Present by Khalid and Little Things with Quinn XCII are there too.
What’s a typical day in the life look like for you right now?
Not one day is the same for me, but lately I’ve tried to keep certain habits throughout each day. Right now, health is a direct impact of performance for me so one habit I have is eating the same breakfast and lunch every day. I’m making an effort to really take care of my body and make sure I’m properly fueled with my eggs and oatmeal in the morning and then my “Work From Home Ultimate Turkey Wrap” (™). It’s basically just a wrap, turkey, cheese, spinach, and pickles. Another habit I have is just trying to do something to keep me grounded for the day. I’ll either meditate for a few minutes, listen to a quality song, talk to somebody on the phone, or practice gratitude. Either before bed or in the morning I think of three simple things that I am thankful for that day. With this habit, it’s really just about finding what brings me to a grounded state.
What is your job at Target?
Tarjaaaay. In addition to all the commitments we have for the Surge, Target is my full time job, so I work 40 hours a week (virtually) as a senior data scientist. What that means is I do a lot of statistical modeling, and figure out ways that I can use and leverage data to help efficient operations and making business decisions. My job includes a lot of machine learning and a lot of coding.
How have you managed balancing the dual duties of being both a professional and a professional athlete?
What’s really helped me with managing multiple passions is focusing on being present. With whatever you’re doing in the next 30 minutes to an hour, everything else in your life doesn’t matter at that moment. You think about that 30 minute part of you. If it’s my work, that’s what I’m focused on. If it’s practice, that’s what I’m focused on. This interview that we are doing right now, that’s what we are focused on.
How has your perspective on balance changed throughout different stages in your life?
In college, most of us players are more or less told what to do. There is a program of what we’re doing at 8 am, 9 am, and so on, set for you. As you get older and are no longer on that program, those priority decisions are on your plate. You get to create your path, right? You get to create your journey and decide what you want to prioritize and where you want to spend your time. I think it is really cool, because that’s where you can kind of implement your passions.
Can you name two experiences that transformed your life?
I think the easy one right off the bat is the experience of college basketball. Being in that system and being in that program really shapes you. One way or another you’re forced to grow in all areas of life…school, sports, teammate wise, friendship wise. You have to show what it’s like to be a part of something outside of yourself. The second experience is playing overseas. living in another culture and learning about their way of life was huge. One very specific detail that stuck out to me was the colloquialisms of the different cultures. I lived with an Australian host family, and different words that they say mean different things than what we might interpret. So here in the U.S., if you say “sure”, I might interpret it as “oh, she doesn’t want to do it”, or “oh, she’s not positive about it”. But over there, “sure” has such a positive affirmation. Learning that there’s another way of life out there and that just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong has totally shaped me and my perspective.
What was it like to transition from team to team and at the same time, country to country?
Going from team to team really forced me to be adaptable. When you deal with so many unique styles, personalities, ages of teammates and experiences you have to adapt. Having switched from country to country, I’m used to being in new environments. Playing here was the first time when I could walk into a grocery store and not use Google Translate to figure out, “what, does this mean?”. Abroad, it’s obviously all foreign brands, so it would take me two to three weeks just to figure out what I needed to get at the store. Basketball-wise, you have to learn quickly because if you don’t play well, you’re gone and they cycle in a new American. The pressure is real. The beauty of it is that by playing with all these different teams, you get to see so many different styles of game and different types of teammates playing and you can see what you want to emulate and what you don’t.
What is the best team you ever played for? This can be the most successful team you have played for in terms of wins or talent, or it could be the group that was the most successful at working together and having a team-first mentality.
Two pop to my mind. The first one being here. We have 100% not reached our potential. One through ten, the talent is fantastic. Everyone has played overseas or is going to play overseas. There’s a ton of potential that we honestly haven’t tapped into yet, so I’m excited for the next six to eight weeks. My Australian team, the Hobart Huskies, was also a fantastic team. We had more of a big name there, Kayla George. She played on Team Australia in the Olympics and had a stint in the WNBA.
How would you describe your role on the Surge so far?
The first word that pops to mind is leader. I think that means a few things – lead by example, lead by communication, and outwork everybody. Lately, I’ve honed in on finding the little things. Grabbing one person and saying “hey, beat me on this sprint”, “hey, beat me on this shooting drill”. On a more individual note, definitely stepping up more in a scoring role, which I haven’t done a whole lot yet, but that’s something where the pull up jumper is kind of my bread and butter and it just hasn’t come through yet. We’ve got time here, but it’s a balance of learning to play with everyone too.
What are some of your quirks?
Oh my gosh. Quirks. I have a lot. Just yesterday, Abbey pointed one out. We were practicing floaters and apparently my leg goes out to the side very weirdly. Instead of doing a normal floater, I shoot my leg out to the side. I definitely randomly sing all the time. I high five everybody left and right. I don’t know if that’s a quirk. I have a Minnesotan accent too. I have a lot of food hot takes…peanut butter and oatmeal. The saltiness is great. Most people tell me I’m supposed to put on honey instead of peanut butter. OH, and raw spinach. I can eat it by itself.
Jacqlyn is an amazing player, teammate, and person. Without her, we wouldn’t be the same. We are happy to have her on our 2022 squad! Tune in for our upcoming Surge Spotlights every other day on both our website and socials.
– Project by Casey Taitel