Name: Classye James
University: Oregon State University & San Jose State
Career: Founder & CEO of Shakeout, LLC and Program Manager at Cisco Systems
Success beyond the sport is a vital aspect to successfully transitioning from athlete to employee, and Classye James of Shakeout LLC is using her experience and platform as a former collegiate athlete to assist other female athletes transition successfully from sports. Classye began her basketball career at a very young age, her dad was a coach, and because she grew up around the sport, she naturally gravitated towards basketball and got her official start at the age of 5. Classye was a part of a very talented high school (Archbishop Mitty High School) team that won back to back state titles. She lettered four years in basketball and one year in track in field. Her senior year of high school she was a McDonalds All-American nominee and earned All-West Catholic Athletic Association honors ( first team and second team) during her high school career.
Classye left California to play basketball at Oregon State University. After a year in Oregon Classye headed back to California to San Jose State University. After competing for 17 years, Classye faced an injury that would end her basketball career and her dream of playing professional basketball. Although Classye’s dream of playing professional basketball didn’t come true, she became a professional in “Corporate America." The Business Finance major landed in the tech industry and now works for Cisco Systems one of the biggest tech companies in the world. In addition to this Classye is a real estate agent and founder of Shakeout LLC whose sole purpose is to successfully help other athletes transition into other areas of life. With all that she does Classye took time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions for FAR enjoy!
1. Who introduced you to basketball and how old were you when you began playing?
Growing up my dad was always coaching basketball and football; he had been a coach for as long as I could remember. I was introduced to basketball officially when I was 3 and began playing on a team when I was 5.
2. What was it about basketball that you enjoyed the most out of any other sport you participated in?
I loved the fact that it was a contact sport. I remember refs and other coaches saying it looked like I was playing football on the basketball court. I also loved the fact that it was a team sport, and during any game, you could contribute to your team's successes in various ways. For example, I was always known as a strong defensive player. However, if I had the hot hand during a game, I would step into a role as a scorer.
Most importantly, I loved that basketball gave me the opportunity to connect with individuals who loved this sport just as much as I did. Through basketball I have met some of my best friends, and now that I am an advocate for Life After Sports I have been lucky to once again connect with amazing individuals who share a similar interest as myself. It’s amazing how I am bonding with lifelong friends because of the sport I used to play.
3. How did basketball set you up for success off the court?
Basketball allowed me to become a great leader and hone in on my soft skills. From a young age, I was always a team captain, and so through trial and error, I began to understand how to become an effective leader. Additionally, I had the opportunity to improve my soft skills such as acting as a team player, flexibility, effective communication, being a good listener, controlling your body language, accepting feedback and applying it, etc. You never realize how important these skillsets truly are until you enter the workforce and see how soft skills can enable extreme success off the court.
4. What female athlete(s) did you look up to as a young athlete?
Lisa Leslie was my GIRL! Although I played a different position, I admired her ability to break down barriers for women.
5. What motivated you to create Shakeout?
I created my business, Shakeout LLC because I saw a gap in the athletic industry, primarily the collegiate athletic industry. As a former hooper, I know how difficult the transition out of sports can be. For the majority of our lives athletes are focused on their sport, and within a blink of an eye they are no longer engulfed in the all of the components of being an athlete whether that is training, practicing, team events, competing at a very high level, having a huge support, being backed by a full organization, etc.
After not only experiencing difficulty transitioning out of college sports myself, but also seeing hundreds of thousands athletes going through similar struggles I decided that instead of constantly complaining about how difficult the transition was I would do something about it. I was fortunate to bridge the gap from being a an athlete to working in the tech industry in Silicon Valley. The lessons I have learned and the network I have built put me in a perfect position to provide athletes with the tools and resources needed to prepare them for Life After Sports.
6. What is your main goal or goals to accomplish through your work with Shakeout?
My vision with Shakeout LLC, is to provide effective transition programs and coaching services at every college and university in the country to ensure that athletes are more prepared for life after sports. In 2019 I hope to impact at least 50 teams and every year I expect to increase that number.
7. What has been the hardest part about your transition from athlete to entrepreneur?
Honestly, the transition hasn’t been that difficult. I had a harder time transitioning from being an athlete to working in the tech industry. So far becoming an entrepreneur has been so much fun! Is it hard? Yes, of course. Entrepreneurship isn’t for the weak minded; you have to have grit and have the ability to overcome adversity. Ironically, these are two qualities you must have if you want to be a successful athlete.
8. What do your services consist of?
I offer 1x1 coaching, online group coaching, a team consulting package, a university package, and I have an online course. Additionally, I have a clothing line dropping April 27thwhich has an exclusive collection created for my fellow athletes.
9. What’s a trend that you’re noticing from clients that come to you to assist with the transition?
Most either don’t have a LinkedIn or they have a LinkedIn but don’t realize how impactful the platform can be when looking for a job and expanding their network. Additionally, many have a hard maintaining an exercise regime that caters to their new lifestyles. It is common for athletes to become demotivated after they no longer HAVE to answer to their long lists of coaches, and finding the inspiration to work out on their own is sometimes difficult.
Also, many athletes (actually many former college students) have a hard time managing money. I studied finance as an undergraduate student and at one time had an 800 credit score (this was before I had to self-fund my business) I am currently on my way back to that perfect credit score lol. I offer simple yet effective money management tips that the average athlete can apply to their life and reach a level of financial freedom.
10. Do you think that the athletic departments are doing a good job with preparing athletes for life after college?
I can’t generalize all athletic departments, but the reason I created Shakeout, LLC was because there is an obvious gap. Athletes are leaving school unprepared in many aspects of life after sports. Whether that be the emotional side of dealing with the fact that they are no longer athletes, looking for a job, preparing for an interview, creating a resume tailored to their skillsets as an athlete, helping them manage money, how to network and expand their network, etc. I think athletic departments are doing the best they can with the resources provided to them. There is always room for improvement, and that is where my consulting services provide that assistance.
11. What would you want your legacy to say about you?
I would want my legacy to say that I truly cared about making the world a better place while providing individuals the tools and recourses to kick ass and make a positive impact on future generations.
12. How do we connect with Classye and Shakeout on the web and social media?
You can follow my personal IG account @classyej