Christy Hedgpeth

Age 34. Director of Branding and Licensing, Spalding

Christy Hedgpeth says she has a sports analogy, or lesson, for almost every occasion, including just about every business situation she finds herself in.

And she should. She has played basketball professionally for the Seattle franchise of the American Basketball League and, in fact, played a lead role (manager of player development) in getting that pioneering league off the ground. And she was the starting shooting guard on a Stanford University team that went to two Final Fours and won the national title in 1992.

Hedgpeth, director of branding and licensing for Springfield-based Spalding, has made endless references to that championship season, which provided countless lessons in teamwork, continuously striving to get better, and just plain old hard work.

“We had talent, but we also had great chemistry … we had five starters in double figures that year,” she explained. “But we were also incredibly well-conditioned. We paid our dues on the track in the summer when it was really hot. When games got tight, we knew we had an advantage because we had prepared more thoroughly than anyone else.”

Hedgpeth has been applying lessons she learned on the court, on the running track, and in the weight room (and encouraging others to the same) in a career that has effectively blended her areas of expertise — sports, marketing, and business. At Spalding, she wears many hats in her current role, and is essentially charged with ensuring brand consistency across all of the company’s businesses. Often, she works in concert with Dan Touhey, Spalding’s vice president of Marketing and another of the Forty Under 40.

Like Touhey, Hedgpeth is active in the community, donating time and energy to several causes and groups, especially the fight against breast cancer, which took the life of a friend a few years ago.

Hedgpeth said she will always have fond memories of that championship season, the other years at Stanford — including 1994, when she was team captain — her three years with the Seattle Reign, and even an ESPY nomination in 1993 for best women’s player of that season. But the memories are just part of the equation.

There are also the lessons — especially those about working with others to clear hurdles and achieve common goals. Like the memories, her championship ring, and that piece of net she cut down that April night in 1992, she’ll have those forever.

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