MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Cydni Bickerstaff was named a “Woman to Watch” by Washington Magazine. Now she is making her mark in Minneapolis ahead of the Final Four in 2019.
Bickerstaff is no stranger to basketball, but it’s her newest role in the field of four that makes her a Minnesotan to Meet.
As a kid, Bickerstaff grew up playing basketball and soccer. As you can imagine, working college basketball’s biggest event was on her bucket list.
“Working a Final Four was always on my list of things I wanted to accomplish,” Bickerstaff said.
The mother of two is no stranger to planning major sporting events. As a special events manager, she coordinated a Stanley Cup celebration for the Colorado Avalanche. She also planned the Bayou Classic in New Orleans for 12 years.
In the world of basketball, she was the talent director of the NBA All-Star Jam Session. The first NBA All-Star weekend she worked was here in Minnesota in 1994.
“Prince had a party,” Bickerstaff said. “So that next day, I remember waiting on talent…we were like, ‘Where are they?’ and so they came in with sunglasses on and we were like ‘Where have you been?’ and they were like, ‘Prince had a party, it’s still going on.'”
If the Bickerstaff names sounds familiar, that might be because her father, Bernie Bickerstaff, is the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Also, her brother, John Blair, played for the Gophers and is now the associate head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.
While Cydni Bickerstaff isn’t shooting threes form long range, she is director of event operations for the Final Four in 2019.
“It was like it was written just for me,” she said.
Bickerstaff left her job as senior career coach at the George Washington University School of Business for a chance at fulltime March Madness planning.
“I’ve been having conversations with some of my counterparts in other cities,” she said. “Basically…I’ll be the facilitator, working with people here, working with the stadium here, the city, public works, transportation, and making sure that all the needs are met.”
A visit to her Final Four headquarters in Minneapolis shows her love for the game. She is proud to be a coach’s daughter but knows she could “school” her dad and brother in business any day of the week.
“My dad couldn’t’ do this, he can coach, but he can’t do this, this my lane and I’m excited,” Bickerstaff said.
The road to Phoenix is just days away, but the road to Minneapolis is keeping Bickerstaff just as busy as any coach.
“I’m here two years out, and so the fun part of this is that we get to help create this position.” she said.
Bickerstaff will travel to Phoenix this week to do more research about what the next two years will look like in terms of her role.