Coaching change

Tai Duncan's career has been far from linear. The executive director of the Chicago chapter of Positive Coaching Alliance, a national youth sports nonprofit, Ms. Duncan, '00, is also a coach at Flow Basketball Academy. Previously she worked as an attorney for the City of Chicago and for John W. Rogers, Jr., '76, at Ariel Investments' office of the CEO.

"I think most people are a professional work in progress," said Ms. Duncan, who earned her coaching chops as Lab's head varsity girls' basketball coach from 2009–2014. "My career has looked more like a jungle gym than a ladder."

Growing up, she found the people who had the most interesting jobs also had a legal background in common, including David Feldman, her Middle School social studies teacher and basketball coach at Lab. "He showed me the value of a law degree outside of traditional practice," says Ms. Duncan.

While law is her professional backbone, she now dedicates herself to the mission of changing the culture of youth sports. By concentrating on character building as much as skills improvement, both Positive Coaching Alliance and Flow Basketball Academy work to turn the tide away from a focus purely on winning. Instead they cultivate sports' potential to provide personal growth opportunities such as leadership, accountability, teamwork, and learning from mistakes.

"I still get together with some of the girls I coached at Lab," she says. "I love hearing that they think fondly of their time on the basketball team and have used so much of what they learned through sports to help them be successful in college and beyond."

In addition to volunteering on the board of directors of the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation, BIG Baseball Academy, and the Lookingglass Theatre Company junior board, Ms. Duncan was on the planning committee to celebrate her 15th U-High reunion. She enjoyed supporting the school that has meant so much to her over the past 30 years, and she looks forward to cochairing Connections, Lab's annual gala fundraiser, in March.

"I've had some incredible experiences and continue to learn new things and be challenged every day," she says. "I hope to be remembered for helping others. If I can give back even a fraction of what I've received, I will have lived a good life."

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