January 25, 2017

Former Northwestern Wildcats Alexandru Olah and Alexandra Cohen have seen their basketball careers take them many places – on and off the court. Both had stellar collegiate basketball careers that have led the two to currently playing internationally.

Following their careers at Northwestern, Alexandru joined the Belgian League playing for the Belfius Mons-Hainaut and Alexandra joined the Israel D-1 playing for the Elektra Ramat Hasharon. But even though they are thriving in their basketball careers, the two are seeking to use their platform and experience to make even more of an impact.

Before the two headed overseas, they used a special opportunity provided by the NBRPA to strengthen their sports business careers.

“I found out about NBRPA through my academic advisors, but also through other student-athletes,” said Olah. “Being a basketball player and also having a passion for business and marketing in general, and with plans of opening a non-profit association in the future, I wanted to learn more about this business and how it was working. The NBRPA definitely helped me understand the business, and I took away as much knowledge as I could, and I am looking forward to applying it to my future non-profit basketball academy AO Basketball.”

Alexandru was born and raised in Timisoara, Timis (Romania) and dreams of children from his hometown being able to live out their dreams and getting the chance to play professional basketball like he has been able to. He fears, however, that many won’t get the chance to fall in love with the sport because of the lack of public basketball courts in the country. This prompted Alexandru to start the Timisoara Deserves Better project. His goal with the project is to help build or renovate basketball courts throughout the city with hope of offering children a safe place to play and develop a love of the game of basketball.

“I learned a lot from Nancy Lieberman herself and her foundation Dream Courts,” said Olah. “She has built over thirty Dream Courts around the country and the impact it had on the children and the community where it was built was incredible. Thousands of kids play on those courts every year and I want the same for my city. I want the same for Romania. They deserve better!”

The budding entrepreneur credits the NBRPA for helping him gain knowledge of sports administration and providing him wonderful networking opportunities. “My internship at NBRPA was amazing,” he said. “I was really impressed by how everyone was so welcoming and willing to teach me everything. The staff works extremely hard and pushed me to make sure my work was excellent. Their commitment to excellence is definitely a model to follow.”

In Israel, Alexandra is currently in her second year of playing professional basketball. She is joined by two of her Northwestern teammates and is enjoying the remarkable experience of living in the country while trying to lead her team to the playoffs. It was a select meeting with NBRPA President & CEO Arnie Fielkow that opened her the opportunity to intern for the organization.

“Ironically, Mr. Fielkow was at one of my Northwestern games in Las Vegas and sat next to my parents,” she said. “Ultimately, I had the opportunity to sit down with him to talk about some of my future career and basketball goals, meanwhile learning more about the NBRPA and what an incredible organization it is. I also had two friends who interned at the NBRPA in the past and spoke so highly of Arnie, the rest of the staff, and the organization as a whole. I knew coming to the NBRPA was an amazing opportunity and a chance for me to learn from some of the best!”

She used the internship to help strengthen her knowledge of fundraising, development and event planning. Her goal is to work with non-profit organizations once her playing days are over and help them to incorporate basketball, community relations, and social responsibility.

“This game has given me so much and I believe that as basketball players, we have the ability to have a huge impact,” said Cohen. “Ultimately if I am able to give back in some way, I will have reached my goal.”

Her internship with the NBRPA helped her develop the skills she will need for her career and provided her projects that would help her fully experience the organization’s five core assets that has proven to be beneficial towards her career goals.

The success of Alexandru and Alexandra, both on the court and off, is a shining example of the achievement that is possible through hard work and determination.

“It brings me great pride to see the wonderful things Alexandru and Alexandra have achieved,” said NBRPA President & CEO Arnie Fielkow. “These two young athletes showed impressive skill and drive when assisting us in our organization and we are happy to have helped them in their careers. We look forward to watching them continue to soar.”

About the National Basketball Retired Players Association
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Arnie D. Fielkow is the President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Thurl Bailey, Vice Chairman Dwight Davis, Treasurer Eldridge Recasner, Secretary Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry, James Donaldson, Mike Glenn, Spencer Haywood, LaRue Martin Jr., David Naves, Johnny Newman and Casey Shaw.