Ex-Spartan athlete Molly Fletcher blazes trail as sports agent and motivational speaker
Molly Fletcher was always a Spartan, starting with being born in East Lansing. She grew up surrounded by the life around Michigan State’s campus, and eventually decided to go to school there and play tennis.
She co-captained the MSU women’s tennis team, and sat in the Izzone for while then-head coach Jud Heathcote and a lively young assistant in Tom Izzo led the Spartan basketball team. Little did she know that her 1993 degree in communications would lead to a gig as a sports agent, and that young assistant and his wife would develop into one of her closest clients and friends.
“What I think was really powerful is that the way I approached it was that I was representing an entire family not just the athlete or coach,” Fletcher said. “For example, my relationship with Lupe (Izzo) was just as close as it was with Tom. Most agents didn’t have the kind of connection with the entire family, so that provided a unique ability to connect and serve them very well.”
Her list of superstar clients extends beyond Izzo, as Fletcher represented some of the biggest names in the sports world. She was the agent of Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan, Clippers coach Doc Rivers, as well as professional golfer Matt Kuchar, former major league pitcher and Lansing native John Smoltz , plus broadcasters like TNT’s Ernie Johnson and Fox’s Erin Andrews.
Fletcher, however, has moved on from that life, now the author of three books –– with a fourth coming out in April–– and starting her own eponymous company and evolving into a renowned keynote and motivational speaker.
Her director of client services, Sprague Paynter, thinks inspiring people is Fletcher’s true calling.
“I think she feels right now that this is where her gift is,” Paynter said. “She loved her sports agent days and she wouldn’t trade them for anything, but I think this is a new chapter for her and one where she feels she can fulfill her gift in a different way. One of the things about Molly is that she’s awesome at connecting with people and helping them maximize their potential.”
Fletcher now travels across the country, delivering around 60 keynote speeches and motivational talks to professional businesses, companies, and panels. Fletcher still has time to be with her family, which includes three daughters, in Atlanta. She wants the people she works with feel the same family atmosphere she gave her former clients.
“I can’t really imagine working for anyone better,” Paynter said. “Who you talk to, and who you see, is who you get with Molly. She is very genuine and she is very funny, she has a great sense of humor. I think we connect on that. She has high expectations, but she is really caring. She is always challenging me and pushing me out of my comfort zone but she is also super compassionate and wants what’s best for you.”
Fletcher overcame a number of obstacles to succeed in the sports agent industry. Most agents have a law or business degree, something that Fletcher does not have. She entered a traditionally male-dominated profession, but she worked hard to reach the top.
Now, her motivational speaking focused on helping other women accomplish their dreams.
“Number one, you’ve got to want it so bad that it will suffocate the fear and negativity that will enter in at times,” Fletcher said. “You’ve gotta want it that bad because it is competitive. It is tough. It takes a little bit of time to really build it. I think it’s important to reframe the negatives as positives.”
As Fletcher developed her plan to make it into the industry, she maintained her focus on spinning the negativity into a positive light to benefit her path.
“There are moments that you can say, ‘Gosh, because I’m a women..fill in the blank,’” Fletcher said. “I took the positive version of that, which is because I’m a women I can connect and build a relationship with the entire family not just the athlete. It’s because I’m a women I can help be a different kind of voice to these athletes that I have now. If you really want to pursue this, then don’t allow people around you to tell you how you can’t, because there were thousands of people who told me, ‘There aren’t female sports agents, how is that going to work?’
“It happened everyday, all the time, it was constant. I didn’t listen because I wanted it bad enough.”