Those in attendance at Thursday night’s Virginia women’s basketball game may have caught glimpse of a pair former Cavaliers working the sidelines of John Paul Jones Arena. Both Breyana Mason and Lauren Moses were in the building, sporting new roles around the program they once featured in.
Mason, who earned a B.A. in American studies in 2017 and a M. Ed. in educational psychology with a concentration in applied development science in August of 2018, rejoined the Cavaliers as a part of head coach Tina Thompson’s staff in October of 2018. It was during her graduate studies that Mason settled on wanting to pursue her love of basketball in a professional environment.
“I decided to pursue the coaching and administrative side of basketball in earnest during my second semester of grad school,” said Mason. “I always knew that I wanted to have a career involving athletics in some capacity, but I didn’t have a clear picture of what that might look like. I taught a basketball class during the spring semester to a group of undergraduate students, and I loved it, which fueled my desire to get into collegiate athletics even more.”
Following the completion of grad school, Mason accepted a director of operations position with the women’s basketball program at Longwood University, eager to begin her career in collegiate athletics. Little did she know that just months later, she be greeted with an opportunity to return to Grounds.
“I never would have thought that I would have the opportunity to return and be a part of the Women’s Basketball program so soon,” Mason said, “especially given the coaching change. I truly cannot express how happy I am to be back and how grateful I am to Coach Thompson for giving me this opportunity to return to UVA.”
After four years as a starting guard and one of the most prolific three-point shooters in program history, Mason’s exploits now lie behind the scenes for most who follow the program.
“My responsibilities can vary a little each day depending on whether or not we have or game or what part of the season we’re in,” said Mason. “Right now, the bulk of my work consists of conducting film exchange with other ACC teams, filming our practices and games, providing coaches with film on our opponents, and editing game film for individual player or team review. I also help maintain our recruiting database and create monthly schedules of recruits’ high school games to assist other staff members with making travel arrangements for the coaches’ recruiting trips.”
Of course, having spent four years as a player herself, Mason has the unique ability to connect with current players, some of whom were teammates during her playing days. Her biggest piece of advice, however, lies off the court.
“I mostly try to tell them to enjoy their time as a student-athlete,” she said. “These 4 years will go by in a blink of an eye, and you’ll never get that time back. I understand how challenging a student-athlete can be, and it’s easy to want time to pass by quickly and move toward the next thing. But there will come a point in time when their college career is over and they’ll wish that they could re-live some of those moments again, but you won’t be able to. One of the hardest things to live with is regret, so it’s important to put always put your best foot forward and take advantage of the privileges that are afforded to you by being a student-athlete at the University of Virginia.”
Across the court from the team benches, Moses was seated in front of the cameras for the ACC Network Extra broadcast. A year removed from her playing days at JPJ, Moses is currently pursuing a graduate degree in journalism at the University of Maryland. Thursday’s game was the third time Moses has provided color commentary for the Hoos this season. For her, it’s a hopeful first step in pursuing her broadcasting dreams.
“After graduate school I hope to become a sports analyst for NCAA men and women’s basketball,” said Moses. “I do want to continue doing color commentary upon graduation, especially for the ACC, as well as being a sideline reporter.”
For Moses, finding her footing in broadcasting has come easily thanks to her time as a player.
“Seeing the game from the sidelines and being able to analyze the game is so awesome, but as a player I did it every day so it comes naturally,” Moses admitted. “I am just so appreciative of everything the game of basketball has to offer outside of just playing.”
That appreciation for the game extends to her time as a Cavalier as well, which Moses says still impacts her life on a daily basis.
“UVA basketball has helped me become the woman I am today because of the countless lessons I have learned from coaches, staff and teammates, physically, spiritually and mentally,” said Moses. “Leading up to graduation this past May, I was sitting in my room one day thinking, ‘how am I supposed to do life without this program?’ But in actuality, UVA basketball lives inside of me every day because, as I am on my journey to become a sports broadcaster, I am continuously striving for excellence in everything I do and in everything I am and that’s the foundation of UVA athletics as a whole.”
While Thursday night was the third time Moses has made her way back as a broadcaster this season, returning to John Paul Jones Arena is an experience she says tops the list anytime she finds herself in the area.
“I just miss everything that JPJ was for me,” said Moses. “It was my second home. It was a place I shared good and bad moments with my sisters and coaches. I have cried, yelled, smiled and laugh in JPJ. Every time I come to Charlottesville, it’s the first place I stop. The girls are usually having practice, so I usually go visit Craig in the training room and then watch some of their practice, peak into the men’s practice to see them and coach Curtis. JPJ was a home and everyone within it was my family, so it’s bittersweet.”