Growing up in the Washington DC area, Kim Holland aspired to be an attorney; she even worked a few years as a foreign policy assistant under a senator Edward Kennedy after pursuing a degree in Political Science at Norfolk State University. That is, before the calling of Sports management was heard. After being approached by her brother-in-law, Olympic athlete Terrence Trammell, she considered entering the field. Because this track and field runner was so persistent, Holland could not resist and reluctantly began representing him in business deals. What she learned quickly was that the field of sports management was not used to seeing a female face. One client turned to three and in 2002 Icon Management opened their offices in Atlanta, Ga. Ten years later, Icon is getting into its stride. The company boasted a roster of several Olympic and World Class track and field clients, including Miki and Me’Lisa Barber, Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford and LaShawn Merritt, the top contender for the 400 hurdles in London. We caught up with Holland to discuss her thriving career.
What was the catalyst to sports management?
KH: My brother in law (Terrence Trammell) at the time was an Olympic athlete in track and field. He needed a manager and was pretty persistent about me working with him. It was really after working with him that I got the confirmation that sports management was where I belonged. I still didn’t know the sport but I knew that I could do this.
How did you know?
KH: When I started to work with Terrence Trammell, he would introduce me to his peers as his agent. I was a female and pretty young. It seems that the other athletes could relate to me. Because his conviction was so strong, I stepped out of faith and started to study the sport. Things quickly started coming together. One client turned into four and four turned into six; after two years, we went from four Olympic medals to eight medals; I knew I had something going here.
What were some of the challenges faces as an African American women manager, let alone a woman sports manager?
KH: When I first started in this industry, it was super challenging, not just as a woman but also as an African American woman. And I was one of the youngest agents at the time. I don’t believe the other male agents, meeting directors or the booking managers took me seriously. Later on, they realized that I had staying power. They said, “she is articulate, educated, she can defend herself, she knows what she’s doing and at the end of the day she really cares about her clients.”