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Women college athletes have vast career potential, making up only 2% of college students, but representing 52% of

women in the C-suite

(reporting to the CEO).


Rookie Career Accelerator

There is a persistent gender gap in women’s leadership representation in almost all sectors of America; and the gap is even greater for women of color. At the same time, we know research into gender, ethnic and culture diversity in corporate leadership shows that the most diverse companies are more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.

Sports is a great incubator for this talent pipeline.  For women and girls, sports participation is a critical tool to challenge gender stereotypes and to develop skills that prepare for a career, and being a student-athlete is a powerful catalyst for leadership potential. Yet, many athletes in this untapped talent pool face barriers that slow or limit their career trajectory.

The goal of the Rookie Career Accelerator is to advance more women, particularly women of color, LGBTQIA+ and first-generation college graduates, to more powerful roles more quickly in the Twin Cities, helping narrow the gender and racial leadership gap.


The nine month Rookie Career Accelerator includes innovative retreats and monthly learning labs, access to mentors and connections, and interactive development experiences, providing a one of a kind career building experience for women athletes in the early years of their career.

We are thrilled to announce the 2021-22 Rookie Career Accelerator Cohort. Spanning over 17 companies, 14 industries, 15 colleges, and 9 sports, they represent the future of women leaders.

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Take Charge of Your Career - Apply to be part of the 2022-2023  Rookie Career Accelerator Cohort

We have carefully selected our 2021-22 Cohort and are looking forward to the Rookie Career Accelerator kick off retreat in January 2022.  If you are interested in participating in future cohorts, please click HERE to learn more about who should apply, and get more information when recruiting for the next cohort begins.


The Rookie Career Accelerator is a unique opportunity to take charge of your career.  Participating will help you develop the skills, knowledge, connections, access, and confidence to accelerate your career and advance more quickly into leadership roles.  In this program you will:

  • Build self-awareness around your purpose and personal leadership style

  • Gain a community of support through a strong team of peers and direct tailored one on one mentoring

  • Develop critical professional skills like personal branding, relationship building, negotiations, and communications

  • Gain access to mentors, industry leaders, and connection opportunities in the Twin Cities Community

  • Find inspiration to break barriers and be bold in your career aspirations

  • Develop your inclusive leadership skills

  • Build your financial literacy


Mentor the Next Generation of Women Leaders

We're looking for former college athletes in business and front office sports to act as mentors and help coach and guide participants through their Rookie Career Accelerator (RCA) experience. Mentors will attend select RCA events and build a relationship with their RCA mentee through both program events and individual mentor meetings. As a mentor, you will also have the opportunity to be part of a community of former college athletes and women leaders in the Twin Cities.  Learn more and sign up here to mentor the next generation of women leaders.


Join Us on the Field - Become a Rookie Career Accelerator Sponsor

Her Next Play is committed to picking up the pace of change. Now is the time to invest in a pipeline of leadership talent that is ready for the challenge and that reflects inclusivity, equity, and opportunity. With your support, we can accelerate the career trajectory of women athletes and engage more businesses with a high potential, diverse pipeline of talent.  Contact Audra Emerson at to learn more about sponsorship opportunities.

*This program is funded through donations, grants, and sponsorships and is offered at no cost to participants.

Rookie Career Accelerator Team

Audra is the Executive Board Vice President of Her Next Play. She attributes much of her success to playing sports and is a strong believer in the positive impact sports can have on the lives of girls and women.

She is a passionate speaker, trainer and career coach with over 20 years of experience in recruiting and human resources. She has consulted for top start-ups and Fortune elite companies including Target, Allianz, Ameriprise, and Russell Investments. She has helped thousands of people establish and advance their careers and brought this expertise to CareerPrep, a career coaching company she co-founded. As a first-generation college student, Audra earned a BA in Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

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Audra Emerson

Rookie Career Accelerator Team

Adrienne Jordan is an expert leader with over 20 years of experience in strategy, planning and process improvement across a variety of sectors including corporate, sports, education, foundation, non-profit and political arenas.  A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she was a member of the 1997 NCAA Final Four Women’s Basketball Team, Jordan is a Senior Consultant for The Prouty Project where she creatively stretches leaders to achieve bigger goals, bolder strategies, and better collaboration through the unique Prouty Way of strategic planning focused on igniting, elevating and creating the extraordinary. Prior to joining The Prouty Project, Jordan served with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, as the Chief of Staff for the Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, and spent more than 12 years with General Mills, including with their Sales Division and Foundation/Community Action Team.

Driving positive impact in the community is important, and Jordan dedicates her free time to supporting causes that are special to her and her family. Jordan currently serves as a Board Director or Committee Member on governing boards for Her Next Play, Lundstrum Performing Arts, Hennepin Healthcare Foundation and WithAll Foundation. Jordan formerly served on boards or committees for AchieveMpls, Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities, Girls In Action, Guthrie Theater, Phillips Eye Institute and WomenVenture. Jordan is most proud to be the mother of her daughter, Kennedy, and enjoys watching Kennedy perform in musical theatre productions across the Twin Cities, as well as spending time with Kennedy as they serve the community with different organizations throughout the year.

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Adrienne Jordan

Sara is a strong believer in the power of sports in developing leaders.  This passion led her to create Her Next Play, a nonprofit that supports leadership and career development for women athletes.

A lifelong advocate for women’s power and advancement, Sara brings an entrepreneurial mindset, a passion for equity, and a talent for developing young leaders to her role as President of Her Next Play.  An early career development expert, Sara co-founded and built CareerPrep, a career coaching and training company, and has held leadership roles in consulting, human resources, and women’s advancement at top companies such as Deloitte, Target, and Merrill Lynch.

A former college soccer player, and current competitive tennis athlete, Sara has a B.A. in Psychology from Lawrence University and an MBA in Human Resources from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

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Sara Wegmann

Sponsors & Partners

Abby is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities where she earned her B.S. in Kinesiology - Exercise and Sports Sciences. Abby is a longtime lover of sports growing up playing basketball, she shared this passion with others in her continued service with youth groups and coaching. 


She also is very passionate about inclusion as she served as an intern, coach, and volunteer for Special Olympics Minnesota. Helping pilot and develop the Cool School movement she plans to carry over the ideas of inclusion and equity into her work with Her Next Play and the Rookie Career Accelerator. Her work as an advocate and passion will help develop the next generation of Women leaders in America 

Abby Dyson

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"The Career Accelerator Network (CAN) session gave me a lot of insight to what life will look like after college and specifically after sports. It showed me how I can use what I've learned from my athletic career in a workplace setting."

CAN Member

Rookie Career Accelerator latest blog posts

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