Little did Cymonne New know that by accepting a position with the Minnesota Lynx earlier this year she would also become a history maker. As the team’s basketball communications manager, the Kansas City native becomes the first Black of either gender in decades to hold such a key role with a Twin Cities pro team.
“It’s crazy,” said New during an MSR interview last month. “When you first reached out and told me that, I was very surprised, but also a feeling of pride that I am the first. I have to make sure that I do it well for [other] Black men and women [who come after her]. A little bit of disappointment that it’s been this long.”
New’s main responsibility is connecting the Lynx players and coaches to fans and media, prepping them for interviews and appearances. “I am with the team all the time, and that’s the good part of it,” she explained.
While studying for her journalism degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia (2011-15) with a minor in business administration and Black studies, New said she abandoned her original goal of becoming an on-air sportscaster to pursue, in her estimation, a more rewarding career.
“I was always about storytelling,” continued New, “giving voice to those who didn’t have them. What I like so much about PR (public relations) is connecting people to the players. My role in media relations is to be able to connect media to the players.”
The Lynx players for the most part make her job easy because they have great stories to tell. “The best thing about the WNBA is…they know what they want to say,” New said. “My role is not to tell players what to say because a lot of the players know what to say, but [rather] to help organize their thoughts.
“There is a lot going on in the WNBA.” New expressed her disappointment that most sports media don’t seek out storylines. “The story ideas are there, and it’s crazy to me that we have to pitch stories [to media],” she complained.
Additionally, being a Black woman, New uniquely knows how important telling stories is, especially in these pandemic-plagued days. “I think there are so many different challenges I know I will face being in this space because my perspective is different, but that’s also why I thrive in this space,” she stressed.
“I welcome the challenges. I will be challenged every single day—I can’t control that. But what I can [control] is how I react to it.”
As a high school international baccalaureate student, New then realized that her poetry writing gifts could be well suited for journalism. “How can I turn my writing ability and my love of storytelling into more than a job?” she asked herself.
The young woman got involved with her school’s newspaper, doing double duty as a basketball player and a reporter, and she also participated in the NABJ student journalism program. “I started then and fell in love with the idea of helping people tell the story,” she pointed out.
After college, New worked in various positions including a half-year as a sales rep with the MLB’s Washington Nationals, a “fan experience” rep with the Kansas City Chiefs, and a graduate research assistant with The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) while studying for her dual masters in sports business management and an MBA at Central Florida. She also worked in the NBA’s Orlando Magic marketing department before her stint with the Wizards-Mystics organization (2019-21).
“I came to the Lynx because I wanted to get back to my world of marketing the players,” she said.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.