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A Decade Later: Jana Basubas

Published: December 3, 2020

Ten years after women's soccer won the program's first and only Patriot League Championship, Lehighsports.com is catching up with members of the team to find out what they're up to and looking back to the 2010 season, and their careers in the Brown and White.
By: Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Sports Communications
Lehigh made a lasting impression on Jana Basubas.
"I feel like I gave Lehigh every ounce of my energy and blood, sweat and tears," said the former women's soccer standout. "Lehigh is part of my identity. It's really special and important to me."
A significant highlight from Basubas' Lehigh time came in 2010 when the Mountain Hawks captured the program's first Patriot League Championship.
"We had three awesome seniors coming back for a fifth year – Natalie (Hojnacki), Glaze (Lauren Glazebrook) and Liz (Carlos)," said Basubas, who had four goals and an assist in 2010. "They weren't coming back to lose. We had really grown from the previous year and were committed to making 2010 a success. It really was a buildup of at least two years to get to that point."
The Mountain Hawks had grown as a group, setting the stage for a championship season. Now, a decade later, Basubas is still growing in her professional career.
"I am the HR manager for Ruth's Hospitality Group, parent to Ruth's Chris Steak House," she said. "We're the largest collection of fine dining restaurants in the world and headquartered in Winter Park, Florida. I've been with the company for almost a year and a half, but with 2020 being so crazy, it's felt much longer. Primarily, my focus is on our corporate-owned restaurants, which are located across the country. If you are in a big city, there is likely a Ruth's Chris nearby."
After graduating Lehigh in 2012, Basubas moved back to Southern California (where she's originally from) for two years.
Jana Basubas 
"I took a job with a nationwide recruiting company and was focused on recruiting for engineers," she said. "Two other athletes at Lehigh who had graduated prior to me, Khalil Uqdah and Tim Dempsey, actually helped me get the job. I learned so much about different industries, sales and hiring.  
"Naturally, it set me up to transition into an in-house HR role, which has been my end goal."
Following her time in San Diego, Basubas moved to Orlando, Florida.
"After a few months of getting settled, I secured an HR position at the Orlando Sanford Airport," she said. "It was a private airport company, which managed the airport where I was based and 10 other airports worldwide. Airports are a world within themselves."
Basubas then moved onto Ruth's following approximately five years at the airport.
"When I interviewed at Ruth's, the Chief Administrative Officer saw I had gone to Lehigh, and she was very impressed," said Basubas. "Lehigh has helped me advance in my career by its reputation alone."
Basubas has forged an impressive reputation herself. In her role today, Basubas wears a number of hats.
"I do everything from recruitment to employee relations to making sure we have the right people (and enough people) in our various locations," she said. "I make sure we're following the various laws that affect our people from a local, state and federal level. If team members have concerns about the work environment, I investigate those and make sure we're always continuously improving.
"I'm basically involved with anything that has to do with people."
Both today in her current role, and back in her Lehigh days, Basubas always thrives around people.
It's in her personality.
"Whatever environment I've been around, success comes down to the culture and the culture is impacted by the people," said Basubas. "Hiring the right people, and making sure those people are set up for success, is extremely important to me."
Basubas knows the 2010 Mountain Hawks featured not only the right people, but also an environment conducive to success.
"We had a lot of obviously really good players," she said. "I look back on the girls I played with and feel very honored to have played with them. We also had a mixture of different strengths. Some people were stronger than others while some were faster.
"We complemented each other very well."
Another key to success for the 2010 Mountain Hawks was a commitment to each other, and commitment to put in the work.
Jana Basubas 
"That was one of the fittest teams I had ever been on," said Basubas. "We trained really well in the spring, then on our own through the summer.
"There was no shortcut or secret to success," she continued. "It was just about doing the work then making sure everyone was clear on the values to help us be successful."
The same has also been true for Basubas in HR.
"You need to have good people, be clear on the objective and everyone has to commit to doing the work," she said. "Also, setting clear communication, policies and procedures, and having open dialogue.
"All of it comes back to what we had to do as student-athletes," Basubas continued.
"It's just in a different environment."
That environment has changed drastically for Basubas amidst the pandemic, obviously facing a number of challenges.
"We've never had to deal with these new unimaginable impacts on the business in different states," she said. "Some restaurants are able to open up because the local jurisdiction allows that, but other jurisdictions may roll back and require us to shut down our dining rooms. We've really had to pivot a lot and be aware of everything from safety issues, guest and employee concerns, and new laws.
"I feel like in my role and with my company, we have done as good a job as possible to ride this roller coaster and remain in a good position."
Finding a way to fight through adversity is exactly what student-athletes like Basubas had to do on the playing field (only now, the stakes are much higher).
"Having been an athlete and having been at Lehigh, there were a lot of challenges and high demands," said Basubas. "At the time, you're focusing on the game or sport, but 10 years later, when you're in a corporate environment and the game changes in terms of the laws or local jurisdiction on what you can do from a business standpoint, there are similarities in how you approach adversity and move forward.
"I'm grateful for my student-athlete experience because I feel prepared as much as possible for some of the things that have happened to the hospitality industry over these past few months."
2010 Womens Soccer Team Photo Championship 
Basubas' drive to succeed is undoubted. On the soccer field, Basubas "hated to lose" and was willing to do whatever it took.
"In 2010, we were comfortable calling each other out when maybe we weren't giving our best, which as humans sometimes happens," said Basubas. "We were able to create a culture that said 'even though we're friends and I love you, you need to pass the ball better because you're putting me in a bad spot.'"
The team was willing and able to have open conversations with each other, due in large part to Basubas.
"Jana is the ultimate competitor and because of her personality and willingness to say what needed to be said, it led the entire team to reach a higher level of accountability," said Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus. "She was willing to have the difficult conversations with everyone, including coaches and upperclass team members. Over time, Jana understanding building relationships was the key to her leadership.
"Although she wasn't a captain on the 2010 team, Jana provided some of the key leadership contributions at the end of the season."
The 2010 Mountain Hawks featured plenty of chemistry and camaraderie.
"We had yellow shoelaces to display our unity and commitment," said Basubas. "They were not fancy shoelaces, but I thought it really brought everyone together, so when we stepped on someone else's field, they could see we were all one team."
Basubas felt connected to her teammates a decade ago (and remains connected today).
Jana Basubas 
Remember what she said; Lehigh is part of her identity.
"I had so much support from really good teammates," said Basubas. "We were just good… we were really good. Obviously, it came with hard work. We went to halftime 0-0 against Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, who was number eight in the country. They were so angry walking off the field. Who is this team we're tied with?"
"This team" was a group who was extremely committed to each other.
"It was really special," said Basubas.
"I don't know if I realized at the time how special it really was."

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