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Spotlight: Insight Stream Associate Maureen Hirt

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1) Tell us a memorable story of yourself when you were a kid. It can be funny, surprising, warm and fuzzy, whatever. Just make it a good one.

Back in the day, I thought I was pretty cool. I played on a softball team when I was younger where the coaches still pitched. When you go up to bat, you get two pitches from the coach and if you miss a third pitch, you get to hit off a tee. It was a “rare” occurrence, but one game I had to hit off of the tee. I already predetermined that I was hitting a home run. After taking a huge swing, the ball made it to the outfield. I was running at top speed around the bases. I made it to third and decided to go all the way home. Feeling pretty awesome, I got into the dugout excited that I had just scored. I was kind of in my own world, but when I snapped out of it, I realized that everyone was laughing at me! What just happened? I ended up passing one of my OWN teammates at third. I was out and completely embarrassed myself. We had friends and family at that game, which was probably why I wanted an inside-the-park home run, but everyone was dying laughing after they saw what happened. It was a one of my most embarrassing moments!

2) Explain what you love about basketball. What is the biggest impact it has had on your life? How do you stay connected with the sport now?

I have been playing basketball since I was four years old, so it’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I love the team aspect of the game. When you have five people on the court working as a cohesive unit, it’s really special. The game has taught me so much about work ethic, resiliency, trust and leadership. Even though my college playing days are over, I’m staying connected to the game through coaching. I just finished coaching an eighth-grade boys’ basketball team at Guardian Angels School. It was an absolute blast. Most people are pretty surprised when they hear I coached a boys’ team. It definitely took some time adjusting from coaching girls, but I found there were a lot of similarities. The philosophy I take as a coach can be summed up in a quote by John Maxwell: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Whether I am coaching girls or boys, I found that it’s so important to invest in individual relationships and take the time to know a player as a person as well as a basketball player. It’s really easy to get caught up in the basketball strategy, the playing time complaints from parents, and practice goals and plans, but I found what really makes a team successful is having a group of players that see daily how much you believe in them and care about them. When you have that, all of the other things seem to fall into place. Coaching has given me an opportunity to learn things I wouldn’t have ever learned as a player; I’m so grateful to continue to stay connected with the game.

3) You had a choice between Kenyon College and Western Michigan University. There were a lot of reasons to choose Western; what were they? Why did you go with Kenyon?

This is a pretty crazy story, and most people think I must be insane because of it! When I was playing in high school, I was on the cusp of being a lower/mid-major Division I college basketball prospect. I knew that I didn’t want to go Division II because I didn’t feel that the schools I was being recruited by were very strong academically. Strong Division III schools, such as Kenyon College, were also recruiting me. I fell in love with Kenyon after my second visit. The beautiful campus, the strong academics and the family-like basketball team atmosphere drew me to the school. I made the decision in the spring of my senior year to play for and attend Kenyon College. About a week after I made that decision, I got a call from Western Michigan saying they had had a spot open up and they asked me to come and visit. My dream had always been to play Division I college basketball, so I decided I would visit and see what Western Michigan was all about. After the visit, I received a call the next day from Western Michigan offering me a full basketball scholarship. I had 48 hours to decide or they would move on to the next person on their list.

How could I say no? I held the key to fulfilling the dream I always had growing up. Everyone was telling me that it would be ridiculous to pass up this opportunity to go to school for free and play basketball. Moreover, Western Michigan is a solid school academically that had a program in advertising, which fit with my interests. I waffled back and forth over the decision, and drove my family nuts in the process. I eventually succumbed to all of those voices in my head telling me to take the D1 offer, and called Western Michigan to tell them I was coming. About five minutes after I made that call, I sat on the couch and let it soak in. I realized in that moment that my heart was not in that decision; my mind convinced me it was the correct decision, but it just didn’t feel right. I realized that I wanted to play for the Kenyon head coach more than anything and that I wanted to be a student and basketball player at Kenyon. After my dad saw my reaction to everything, he told me to call them back and turn down the offer. I called Western Michigan back and told them that my heart was not in it and that I would just be going there for the scholarship.
Even though it was difficult, I knew it was the right decision for me. My parents fully supported my decision, even though I know it was a huge financial burden to pay for Kenyon tuition when I could have had a full ride to Western Michigan. To this day, I consider myself incredibly blessed and fortunate to have such amazing parents!

Just last spring, I graduated from Kenyon College. It was truly the best decision I ever made to go there. Even though most people found it crazy that I passed up a Division I basketball scholarship, I knew that I was meant to go to Kenyon and play for Coach Helfant. I learned so much about myself and grew as a person and basketball player during my four years there. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

4) How did you earn massive business student brownie points in college?

Kenyon College is a liberal arts school so we did not have a business school. I knew going into college that I really liked business; specifically, I wanted to understand how people make purchase decisions and how advertising can impact those decisions. My dad is a social psychology professor at Indiana University and told me about consumer insights and how it fit perfectly with my interests. At Kenyon, I double majored in psychology and economics. I thought this combination was the best to help prepare me for consumer insights after college.

During my freshmen year, a couple of other students and I started the Entrepreneurship Club on campus. We wanted to create an outlet for those who were interested in business. We entered into a business competition after writing our first-ever business plan and got $3,500 to start a late-night food business on campus. At Kenyon, there were very few late-night food options so we saw a niche in the market. Thus, we create Nite Bites Café. We sold paninis, smoothies and milkshakes. It started out with everyone in the Entrepreneurship Club working ridiculous hours to get it going. I can tell you, it was not fun staying up until 1:30 a.m. the night before a game! After our first year, we did well enough to start hiring students to work and we added a delivery service option. Instead of buying our supplies at Walmart, in our second year we started using a local food retailer. We eventually applied to be an LLC and started hiring student managers instead of having one of the founders (four of us) there every night. To this day, Nite Bites is still running! It was an amazing experience to be a part of starting a business and seeing it continue to grow.

5) What is your favorite movie genre to see in a theater specifically?

In general, I’m such a sucker for romantic comedies. My all-time favorite is “The Proposal,” with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. I think the best movies to see in theaters, though, are thriller movies. With the big screen, I feel like it’s more intense than watching from home. You can feel the energy and anticipation build up in the theater, which makes it a pretty fun experience.

6) Brownies, cookies, cake. Rank them and explain your reasoning.

1) Cookies: There is nothing better than warm cookies out of the oven. I always have to have a glass of milk to dip them in as well!
2) Cake: I’m a huge fan of ice cream cakes, particularly. I always have to have my cake with ice cream, whether it’s actually in the cake or on the side.
3) Brownies: The really crumbly ones are the best. Having brownies with frosting is also a plus!

7) What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t know if people would be really surprised, but I have absolutely no rhythm at all. In college, people thought I would be good at dancing since I played basketball, but that was definitely not the case. I stuck to the “side-to-side sway” or the “Q-tip” dance moves most of the time.

8) Choco Taco, Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich (the chocolate chip kind, duh), or Drumstick?

No question—Choco Taco! I didn’t discover them until college, but they are awesome. It gives you the perfect crunch with the shell, but also has the smooth vanilla fudge-swirl on the inside. I like them better than Drumsticks because the Choco Taco allows you to really mix the shell and the ice cream as opposed to having to eat the ice cream first and then the cone when you eat a Drumstick. Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches are also awesome. You really can’t go wrong with this lineup.

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