Alumni Spotlights are Q&A's with former Brandeis student-athletes, across a myriad of disciplines, as they reflect on their Brandeis experience and how it has shaped their lives today. Read more spotlight features here.
Name: Kelly Ethier
Job Title: Assistant Vice President
Organization: Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk
Kelly Ethier ’12 was a two-year captain of the women’s basketball team, helping the Judges reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III tournament as a rookie. She earned her B.A. in sociology and was an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a Relay For Life coordinator.
Ethier went on to earn a Master’s in Sports Leadership from Northeastern. Since 2014, she has been with Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk. Starting out in a client service role, but was quickly promoted to account manager. In January 2019, Ethier was promoted to Assistant Vice President at Gallagher, where she helps provide athletic accident insurance coverage for colleges and universities.
In 2019, she was named a 2019 Power Broker® by Risk & Insurance ® magazine in the category of education.
Describe your overall experience as a student-athlete. What does it mean to you now, and what did it mean to you while you were an undergraduate?
My time as Brandeis student-athlete was unforgettable. The game of basketball has provided me with endless opportunities and experiences throughout my life, and I’m grateful that it led me to Brandeis. I am always nostalgic when thinking back to the amount of fun I had during college and the friends I’ve made along the way, but I can’t forget that it was also very challenging being a student-athlete. A lot of my time in college was spent at Gosman Gymnasium between all of the practices, games, team lifts, film sessions, and working intramural sports with the expectation to attend every class and somehow do well academically. It was overwhelming for me to balance it all early on, but with the support of my teammates and the staff in athletics I had all the resources I needed to figure it out and adjust accordingly. I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time, but my experience as a student-athlete at Brandeis University set me up for life after college and life after basketball. I attribute a lot of what has made me successful in my career to what I’d learned as a collegiate student-athlete.
How did your time as a student and student-athlete at Brandeis prepare you for your career and life after college?
I fully support the theory that student-athletes make the best employees. There are so many aspects to sports and being part of a team that help you develop the skills that translate into becoming a successful member of society. At a young age you have to navigate and find a healthy balance between practice and training, going to class, studying for exams, maintaining a job or work study, and having a social life. The time management skills that you develop through balancing the demands of the classroom with those on the court are not all that different from the skills you need to balance a job / career while carving out time to spend your friends and family. It’s impossible to balance of those things if you don’t have a strong work ethic. At the end of the day, playing a sport is a commitment that teaches you the value in showing up and working hard without making excuses. If practice is at 6:00 AM and you arrive at 6:05 AM, there are going to consequences (Lots of sprints. Thanks, Carol!), and the same goes for life. If you’re supposed to do something at a specific time, and you fail to do so, there are going to be consequences.
Do you have any advice for current or future Brandeis Student-Athletes?
Step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. It is easy to get caught up in the monotony of your daily schedule, but I would encourage you to explore more of what Brandeis has to offer. Take the time to learn more about the clubs and student organizations on campus, or consider the opportunity to study or travel abroad. The reality for most college athletes is that the sport you’ve dedicated most of your life to will become an extracurricular activity once you graduate. Less than 2% of college athletes make it to the professional level. It’s important to find other things that you’re passionate about before you graduate.
What originally attracted you to Brandeis as a student-athlete?
I was interested in Brandeis for two main reasons, the first being that it was - and still is - a prestigious university academically, and the second being the competitive athletic conference. During my college search I discovered that it was rare to find a competitive Division III institution that also had the travel schedule we do, let alone one that goes to such prominent cities every year. Once I attended my overnight and met the team my decision was made, and I applied early decision shortly after!
Do you still keep in touch with any of your former Brandeis teammates?
Yes! Several of my college teammates are still some of my best friends to this day. While I don’t keep in touch with all of my BWB teammates as much as I would like, I always love to see what they’re up to in their lives and careers through social media. And the love of my life is also a former Brandeis student-athlete and soccer player, Joe Eisenbies ‘13.
What personal or professional accomplishment(s) are you most proud of since you graduated?
Last year I was recognized as a Power Broker by Risk & Insurance magazine. Over the last five years I’ve worked at one of the largest and most reputable insurance brokerage firms, Gallagher, where I’ve had the pleasure of working with college athletic departments across the country. After Brandeis, I always knew that I wanted to have a career in college athletics, but I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant or how it would play out. I was fortunate enough to stumble into this niche of College Athletic Insurance, and no, I did not have aspirations of selling insurance! My career has been the perfect fit. It fulfils my passion for sports, helping others, and creating long lasting relationships with my clients – and for that I’m proud!