GLADIATHER WIVES: COURTNEY AJINÇA
We all grow up with certain expectations in life. We have ideas about what careers we’ll have, who we’ll marry, how many kids we’ll have…what our adult lives will generally look like. On the road to adulthood and living our fairytale lives, however, there are often unexpected events that shift our focus and our expectations. Sometimes those shifts have us doing things we never thought we would and living lives that don’t match our original expectations. But very miraculously, those unexpected events place us exactly where we should be, doing exactly what we were designed to do. That’s pretty much the story of this month’s GladiatHer® Wives feature. If you asked Courtney Ajinça when she was sixteen what she’d be doing when she was twenty-eight, I doubt that she would have told you she’d be an event planner who balances life as an NBA wife and mother. But that’s where she is and it suits her in a might fine way. Don’t believe me, just take a peek.
Hey Courtney, thanks so much for joining us on GladiatHers.com! You’re our first GladiatHer® Wife from the NBA, so congrats. Tell our audience a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me. My name is Courtney Ajinça and I’m from Charlotte, NC. I was born and raised there. I have 3 sisters and a stepbrother and we were raised as preacher’s kids. I’m married to Alexis Ajinça and he plays center for the New Orleans Pelicans. We have one beautiful son together. His name is Carter. I am the creator and owner of Glitz and Glam Social, an event-designing firm.
With all of the games in an NBA season, I’m sure you all live a hectic sports-driven life. Do you have a love for sports outside of your husband’s career?
I do. For most of my life, 15 years, I ran track. I specialized in the 400m and 4x400m at my high school, Independence High and in college at Wingate University. I ran AAU and up until my first year in college when I got injured. Luckily I had an academic scholarship to fall back on, so I was able to finish school without relying on track and field.
Wow that’s essentially dedicating your entire life to track and having it taken away pretty suddenly. How was it making the transition to life without track and field?
It was really tough. Track was a part of my life since…forever. I ran in the winter, spring, summer and fall, so it was definitely an adjustment. I still miss track every day and I am even thinking about running in an adult league. But I was always good in math and science, so when track didn’t work out as planned, I had that to fall back on. It made the transition easier than it might have been otherwise. I ended up majoring in Biology and Pre-Med.
Well that’s certainly an admirable field to be able to use as your plan B! What kind of impact do you think sports have had on your life?
I think sports certainly taught be to have an appreciation for my body and maintaining a fit, healthy lifestyle. I have continued to workout and be healthy, not for my husband, but for me. Sports also taught me to appreciate being tough but also appreciate being a girly, girl. Sports have inspired me to work with and encourage other women. There’s this negative stereotype that women, especially athletes’ wives, are catty. But we really aren’t, and sports have helped me see that we’re so much better when we work together.
GladiatHer Wives has certainly taught us that most athletes’ wives are supportive of one another. You mentioned earlier that you own an event-designing firm. How’d you end up going from a Pre-Med track star to event design?
Well when my husband and I originally started dating, the plan was for me to go to medical school. But life just sort of happened. His Dad and Grandfather passed away and he got traded all within 3 weeks. So I moved to Dallas with him so that I could be supportive of him and in the process I put myself on the backburner and never went back to medical school. I don’t regret not going to medical school. I know now that wasn’t for me.
I realized that I had gained a great deal of life and business experience and that led me to open a boutique in Charlotte. After 3 years I had to close the shop because we had our son and we had moved to New Orleans. It was too difficult to maintain them all. What I came to realize was that there was something that was always a constant in my life; even when I was in school and even when I had the boutique. That was event design. I always loved it and it always came natural to me. Friends and family would always ask me to plan their events and I would always be willing to plan events for people. When I realized that it was something I loved and could do from anywhere, I decided to open Glitz and Glam Social.
Kudos to you for finding the silver lining and being able to turn your focus towards something that was not only productive, but that you are truly passionate about. Speaking of which, tell our readers some about Glitz and Glam Social.
Glitz and Glam Social was really birthed from my passion. People always told me I was good at event design so I was able to turn a talent into a business. We provide event design (also called event planning) for weddings, corporate and private events for people with varying budgets. I’m really proud to say that I earned accreditation as an event designer. I went through an intensive training so that I could educate myself and bring training and experience to my clients.
What kind of impact has being a business owner had on you?
Being a business owner has been tough but rewarding. With the boutique especially, it required me to be away from my husband and my husband away from his son, so it put a strain on our family. Glitz and Glam Social definitely gives me more balance in that way. Being a business owner is also very rewarding. I grew up around strong, professional women who owned their own businesses, so I always knew that I didn’t want to be the type of wife that doesn’t contribute financially. Glitz and Glam Social allows me to have a sense of personal accomplishment and to help provide for my family.
I love to hear from other business minded women. There really is fulfillment in being able to build something from just an idea. Are you involved in other things outside of Glitz and Glam Social?
We actually have a non-profit organization called Ajinça T.R.U. Home. T.R.U. stands for Transforming, Restoring and Uplifting the Home. The Home refers to your physical, mental or spiritual home. We’re geared at helping homeless people be reintroduced into society. In New Orleans the homelessness situation is really bad. When we first moved we noticed so many people living under bridges. We initially would take blankets and food to them, but we wanted to be able to do something more permanent and consistent; so that’s were Ajinca T.R.U. Home started. Right now we’re looking helping with food drives and employment centers and the ultimate goal is to open a homeless shelter.
In a world with so much darkness we hope that we can shine some light; to show and remind people that goodness and good people still exist.
That is certainly an admirable goal and I think working with an oftentimes underserved group, like the homeless, is the perfect area to do it. I’m sure that shelter will be built in no time. Before you go, tell our readers how to keep up with you and Glitz and Glam Social.
Of course. On Instagram I’m WakeMeUpInParis. Glitz and Glam Social’s website is GlitzAndGlamSocial.com and we’re on Instagram at GlitzAndGlamSocial. Make sure you follow us and contact us when you’re ready to plan your next event!
Thanks again, Courtney for your time. And thanks for reminding us that just because things don’t go as planned, that doesn’t mean they aren’t going as they should.