Kamaria McDaniels is a current MSU StratCom student and the leading point guard for the Michigan State women’s basketball team.
She had always seen a master’s program in her future because of an extra year of eligibility to play basketball at the collegiate level.
Making her way back to her home state this past offseason after previously attending both Penn State and Baylor University, MSU had both the basketball program and the communication’s program that she was looking for.
“I was looking for a program that would give me actual skills, instead of just a focus,” said McDaniels. “Michigan State had more to offer than just athletics for me, and after finding the StratCom program it felt like a no brainer that this would be my next step.”
Separating her identity from basketball
McDaniel with former head coach, Suzy Merchant. | Photo: Michigan State Athletics
“Being a Spartan has been a lot of fun,” said McDaniels. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play again for about six months because of two knee surgeries, so to now be playing in front of all the Spartan fans, including my family, I feel a lot of gratitude.”
Kamaria explains that finding herself and her identity outside of basketball has been a journey.
“Basketball became a sort of idol for me, when I knew it shouldn’t,” said McDaniels. “Adversity through injury is what forced me to rethink what was important to me, playing in the WNBA being one of those things.”
McDaniels missed the complete 2020-21 season due to injury, playing in 10 games at Baylor last season.
“Adversity ironically is what made me realize I’m much more than just a basketball player, and I can invest in myself as a person,” said McDaniels.
She describes how being a D1 athlete for so long takes your time away from doing a lot of normal things like creating friendships, reading books for fun, and investing in relationships – so she’s enjoyed starting to tap into those again.
Managing it all
Separating her identity from basketball has also meant looking ahead to life after graduation, and dialing in on where her passion and career endeavors may take her.
“Studying communication puts you in a position to be successful in any field that you choose,” said McDaniel’s. “As someone who didn’t initially know if I was going to take the entrepreneurial or corporate route, having a universal skillset was important to me.”
Kamaria’s academic plan is a flexible, hybrid model that was custom built for her and consists of classes that give her a taste of all three of the different tracks the program offers.
“The StratCom program feels like a family,” said McDaniels. “Everyone in the program has been very understanding and graceful surrounding me being a student athlete and the schedule that comes with that. I do have to be extra communicative in advance when it comes to group projects, though.”
As someone who was already very self-motivated and diligent, becoming intentional about scheduling out her weeks and tasks into categories like school, business and basketball helps her not let anything fall through the cracks.
She also talks about not skipping out on her daily wellness practices like reading, praying, visualizing, and even making her bed.
Climbing out of the basketball box to look ahead
To add to Kamaria’s busy schedule – real estate has turned from a curiosity hobby into a side-hustle business of her own.
“I feel a lot of joy from putting people into homes and helping to fix up those homes,” said McDaniel.
She’s currently practicing as a wholesale seller in the Inkster, Michigan area – her well-known and loved hometown.
This could very likely become the year where she hits 10 real estate deals.
“When I graduate in August and basketball is over, I don’t know exactly what my life will look like, but I do know my skillset from the StatCom program and basketball has equipped me for anything. “
McDaniel sitting down with the StratCom staff to film interview in early February. | Photo: Program Director, Jason Archer