In a recent piece on Lindsay Kagawa (“Sports agent no devil, but wears Prada”), head of the newly created Women’s Elite Division for Bill Duffy’s BDA Sports, columnist Marcus Thompson II seems to fawn, just a little: “Kagawa, an Albany native, is what they call a postmodern businesswoman, the smoothie you’d get by mixing Ellen DeGeneres and Victoria Beckham in a blender with some ‘Colbert Report’ and a little bit of ‘Sex and the City.’ She stands out among this boys club’s nuclear levels of testosterone by embracing sexy and flaunting smarts. She complements tireless hustle with rebellious thinking and progressive motives, allowing her humor and Gen-X flair to serve as the chaser.”
It was around this point when Marcus began to drool.
Yet perhaps he is on to something. Kagawa wasn’t given the keys to her own BDA division, so to speak, by accident. True, she spent five years as Duffy’s executive assistant, the Lloyd to his Ari. But so what? The sports management industry is full of executive assistants. What made Kagawa stand out?
Maybe it was Kagawa’s generous and charitable nature. While primarily at Duffy’s side, Kagawa was concurrently put in charge of creating the firm’s charity division, BDAGiving–the first of its kind in the field of athlete representation. And when Duffy was searching for the right person to lead it, Kagawa was the natural choice given her background. Upon completion of her MA in Sociology with a focus in Organizational Studies at Stanford University, Kagawa was awarded the Stanford Haas Center for Public Service Sand Hill Fellowship. During her time as a Fellow at the East Bay Community Foundation, her work focused on marketing, research and charitable giving for professional athletes and high net worth individuals. Moreover, as a part of her graduate work at Stanford, Kagawa collaborated with the athletic directors to establish SAKU (Stanford Athletes & Kids United), a mentoring and tutoring program for East Palo Alto Youth and Stanford Student-Athletes. It was also in the role as head of BDAGiving that Kagawa helped to spearhead Carmelo Anthony’s youth center in Baltimore, and Drew Gooden’s learning center in Cleveland. She still works with BDA’s NBA clients on charitable projects, and also is part of a five person team that manages Carmelo’s MySpace site, adding blog items that Anthony approves and updating special events. All of Anthony’s video advertisements, plus a “Vote Melo” all-star link, are downloadable, meaning fans can copy those items onto their own pages and spread the message.
Or maybe it was her willingness to do whatever it took, whenever. A spur of the moment red eye to Phoenix to cheer up and just ‘be there’ for star client Diana Taurasi, who at the time was in a slump with the Mercury; another flight to Russia to make sure client Seimone Augustus was getting her paychecks from her team; a quasi-music video to market recently signed Sylvia Fowles to the Chicago Sky; even finding a maltepoo for Candice Wiggins, a dog lover.
Dog browsing and jet hopping aside, most of Kagawa’s time is spent running BDA’s women’s division, which now features five WNBA clients including Taurasi (who signed in 2005); Wiggins, the ex-Stanford standout; Augustus, the two-time national player of the year at LSU and now a star for the Minnesota Lynx; and Noelle Quinn, formerly of UCLA. And this past April, Kagawa signed Fowles.
“To be successful, an agent has to have a good amount of determination, be comfortable working in the gray area and — above all else — they have to have a creative intelligence,” noted Angie Wells, president of Dawn Staley Enterprises. “Lindsay has it all. She’s a rarity in the agent game.”
Apparently she’s not bad to look at either.