Las Vegas Aces President Fargas Brings “It” To Women In The Game Conference
Identifying that special something can be key to making a career in sports.
It was all about the “it” factor at the USA Basketball Women in the Game conference held in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay on Sept. 28.
What exactly the “it” represented was left up to the beliefs of each attendee and speaker, but Nikki Fargas, president of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces that play in the Mandalay Bay’s Michelob ULTRA Arena, was the one who spent a few minutes defining her version of “it.”
“The ‘it’ is difficult to describe because it lives in a place that only you know,” Fargas said. “It lives and dwells in a place that gives you that extra. It gives you that push when you need it. The ‘it’ is tapping on your shoulder and telling you that you can versus you can’t. The ‘it’ is also something that is developed over time.”
Fargas was one of several accomplished women from the sports industry who spoke to the female students and young professionals gathered in the room and the others viewing online. The semi-annual Women in the Game conference was created in 2017 to inspire and educate women looking to break into or advance in the sports industry.
As a former player and coach, and now executive, Fargas understands the challenges that will be faced during a career and how women must stay motivated and disciplined to succeed. Fargas played at the University of Tennessee under the legendary Pat Summitt before becoming the head coach at UCLA and LSU. She was hired by Mark Davis, also owner of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, to become the Aces president in May 2021.
According to Fargas, the “it” is a guiding light.
“I think that the ‘it’ finds you, to be honest,” Fargas said. “You’re always faced with choices. Choice No. 1 could be do the right thing or don’t do the right thing. Other choices can be to either be nice and kind, or you’re going to be mean and ugly. The ‘it’ is in everything that you encounter so you have to in tune with your senses.
“I use this for an example. When I’m riding my Harley-Davidson motorcycle, all of my senses are heightened. I’m going to feel everything because of the heat. I’m going to visually see everything, hear everything and smell everything. When all of your senses are being challenged, at that moment, there’s this peacefulness that overcomes you. When you’re living in that moment, whether it’s a game winning shot, whether it’s winning a race, there’s that something that made you train a little harder or something that made you sprint down the floor a little harder. But you were living in the moment. That’s the best way I can describe the ‘it.’”
Joining Fargas at Women in the Game were speakers that included Melissa Barlow, an NCAA Final Four official; Rushia Brown, Los Angeles Sparks director of community relations and youth sports; Chineze Nwagbo, Peace Players Baltimore interim director; and Dr. Kacey Oiness-Thompson, UNLV Athletics director of counseling and sports psychology.
Jennifer Lynne Williams, the USA Basketball Foundation development director, served as the host and introduced the speakers. Williams was pleased each shared not only the good times, but also the challenges.
“It was uplifting and inspiring, and there was a tremendous amount of great energy,” Williams said. “I think all of the presenters wanted to share that they were being transparent and they were being vulnerable. A lot of young women see the success, but they sometimes don’t see the failures or the hardships people go through. It was good to hear our speakers talk about some challenges they’ve faced in the industry because you don’t want to give the perception that it’s all good.”
Fargas has overcome her own challenges, but through it all remained appreciative of her experiences. She was also thankful to participate.
“Gratitude is a global concept,” Fargas said. “There is a not a job that is too big or small. I know the names of everyone I meet every step of the way, whether it is a janitor, a player, or a top executive. No matter who it is, I treat people with respect.
“I’m honored to be asked to be a part of an event that is here to empower females. This event is here to bring different demographics and different ages together for one sole purpose, and that’s for us to build relationships. There’s going to be a lot of relationships that come from this. There are a lot of great speakers here that have paved the way. To be able to share my story in a place where your voice can be heard is very humbling.”