June 2022 AOTM: Sivonnia DeBarros, Protector of Athletes®

athlete of the month Jun 06, 2022

Welcome back to TWN’s Athlete of the Month! Each month we are highlighting athletes in our network to share what they have accomplished outside of sports, their contribution to the athletic community and more. Make sure to check out our weekly newsletter to learn more about the athlete, what motivates them, and how to contribute to their cause.

Our June Athlete of the Month is Sivonnia DeBarros - Protector of Athletes® and former NCAA DI track and field athlete!

Sivonnia is a first-generation lawyer and business owner, and a former track and field Division-I College athlete at the University of South Florida, where she also received her B.S. in Political Science. She received a M.S. in Criminal Justice from Everest University in 2010 and graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law with her J.D. in 2013.

Sivonnia has represented pro athletes from the NFL, MLS, NBA-G League, and Pro-Table Tennis sports; 7- figure National Brands and NY Times Best-Selling Authors by helping them to properly set up businesses, put proper agreements in place and create legacies that will pay dividends in the future. DeBarros's work has been featured in ABC, CBS, WGN-9, and has been quoted in magazines and articles, including Forbes 

Additionally, Sivonnia is a public speaker, entrepreneur, and a bestselling published author of What Are You Sporting About?®. She is the creator of the proprietary program “Have Your S.A.E.™” that was designed with collegiate athletes in mind and the author of the new Amazon bestselling book, Athletes Making Moves©TM, released on July 31, 2021. 

Sivonnia is a great supporter of Tackle What's Next. She was on Episode 17 of our Timeout with TWN series. In the episode, Sivonnia shared her valuable advice around how athletes can smoothly transition out of sports with the help of the people around them. She has been a valuable advocate for athletes progressing into their future outside of their respective sports. 

“Make sure your advisors are who you think they are, and make sure your interests are properly aligned. Do NOT turn a blind eye to your stuff. You don’t know everything, and that’s one reason you need professional advisors, but you should also educate yourself well enough to be able to monitor certain things to make sure you’re in a good place.”

Here's our full interview with Sivonnia DeBarros!

Why did you launch your own law firm, and now Athletes Making Moves?
I've always wanted to own my law practice but was unaware of how soon I would have to do it. Regardless of graduating from law school as a published author, with an amazing GPA, with Trial Team, and work experience with the Cook County State Attorney's Office and later the Attorney General's office, no one gave me an employment opportunity. I decided that I would not wait for someone to say that "I was good enough to work for them" but decided to believe in my own capabilities and move forward earlier than planned with a dream that was always on the inside of me.

When it came to launching Athletes Making Moves, I knew that athletes, especially student-athletes, needed candidates and expert advice to support them in the new NIL era. It's proven to be true. We've seen NIL industry-specific companies launch during this past year promising to provide athletes with all the things they need to monetize in NIL. Yet, those companies are missing critical information to help athletes thrive during and post-college. That's where Athletes Making Moves comes in.

What did being an athlete teach you about the work you are doing now?
Mind Over Matter TM. My high school track coach always yelled out to me, "Sivonnia, Mind Over Matter." Later in life, under his stewardship and other amazing coaches, I learned that sport taught me discipline but the leaders around me taught me how to build resilience.

Being an athlete taught me how to dig deep into anything that I am confronted with. The tenacious nature of an athlete is an integral part of being an attorney and I'm proud that I had the training of understanding sport, my role, and finding my determination.

What is the most important thing you did for yourself to start planning for life outside of sports?
Planning and Tracking. Before college, I always previewed my future. The next five years, the next 10 years, and so on. In college, I previewed and planned my semesters. When a long-term in sport wasn't possible, I made sure to plan out what it would take to become a law student, and later on, an attorney.

I researched law firms and the different areas of practice that enticed me. I spoke to who I could for advice on what to major in. Some would say that "I do too much" but my life and my future are not theirs. Do what you have to and make sure you have a well-rounded perspective of what you need to do to achieve the life you want to have outside of sports.

When and how did you decide you were ready to make the transition out of sports?
Unlike many athletes, I've always known that a transition would be necessary. Although I had a dream to be an Olympic athlete, multiple injuries kept that from becoming a reality. Moreover, since I've always been an individual who plans ahead, I knew that having other plans was paramount to my success.

What advice do you have for athletes around moving on from sports to their next chapter?
Believe in yourself and your capabilities. Our world is set up with so many limitations and often, we take on rejections and certain limitations as a sign that "we're not good enough." But, we are. Find out what you're sporting about in this life. What gets you up every day? What do you love doing? Who do you want to serve? And believe that you are the chosen one who can get those things done.

Thank you Sivonnia for your incredible impact on the world of sports and entertainment! It has been a pleasure to highlight Sivonnia throughout the month of June. Be sure to check out her podcast, What Are You Sporting About?®and support her work!