I Was Told There Were No Female NBA Scouts, So I Became One

I Was Told There Were No Female NBA Scouts, So I Became One

Bonnie-Jill Laflin, Ageless

NBA Scout, Sportscaster, and Founder of Hounds and Heroes

In the all-male realm of the NBA, Bonnie Jill-Laflin became the first-ever and only female NBA scout after years of dealing with the onus of the perpetual “boy’s club.” Adding to this gender disadvantage was her previous career in modeling and cheerleading which, she says, created further barriers between herself and her male counterparts. “The stereotypes of being the first female brought on a lot of scrutiny, judgement and jealousy,” she remarks, adding that it was ultimately this gender-based bias that pushed her to get where no woman has gone before. She shoots, she scores!

1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?

I’ve been in love with sports since I was a child and would attend games with my father from baseball to football to basketball. I knew I would make sports a part of my life and career. My biggest professional achievement is the honor of being the first and only female scout in the NBA. I am also incredibly proud of my non-profit organization, Hounds and Heroes. My charity combines both my passions of animal welfare and supporting our troops.

2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?

The stereotypes associated with being the first female brought on a lot of scrutiny, judgement and jealousy. From bad write ups in the media to dealing with the bad attitudes in the workplace. This was only made more intense because of my background as a model and NFL/NBA cheerleader, in that many people made the assumption that I was hired for my looks, rather than my knowledge of both the game, players and the business of the NBA. 

3. How did you #SWAAYthenarrative? What was the reaction by those who told you you “couldn’t” do it?

Having to constantly deal with this until I was accepted by the “boys club”. One of the few humorous stories to come from it was when I was at a game for the Lakers’ Developmental Team, the Los Angeles D-Fenders where I was the assistant GM. 

The players were all throwing their usual smack talk around, when everyone heard, “Oh yeah? Well, our boss is cuter than your boss.” It wasn’t exactly the kind of attention I was looking for, but in retrospect, it was pretty funny.

4. What did you learn through your personal journey?

 I did the job. Seriously. I worked harder and longer hours. I traveled to as many colleges as I could and I dug through every player in the country until I could find those who would not only play well, but could fit into the triangle offense, culture and mindframe unique to the then-World Champion Lakers Organization. I met with sports reporters and writers who started the interviews with the intent to dismiss me and demonstrated that I knew the job until they changed their minds.  I trusted that the people who hired me (namely Dr. Jerry Buss, Jeanie Buss and our GM Mitch Kupchak) would remember WHY they had hired me and would let me do my job.  And they did. They believed in me.

5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?

Never give up on your dreams and push harder to prove the skeptics wrong…those people should give you the drive to want to succeed. You should never give up no matter how hard it gets, you must believe in the end something beautiful will happen and it will all be worth it. Regardless of gender you can do whatever you put your mind to. Don’t Dream It..Be It!!!

Laflin and co.
Team STN

The backbone of our campaign

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