Suzanne Spellacy won’t be teaching post-up moves to Karl-Anthony Towns or Sylvia Fowles.
The new general counsel for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx will be the first to admit she is better suited as a spectator when it comes to basketball, especially as played by those two NBA and WNBA stars.
But she is a good listener, a trait that started when Spellacy enrolled at the College of Saint Benedict in 1983.
“I chose English (as a major) because I got some very good advice from my Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s adviser that I should focus on something that I truly enjoyed,” said Spellacy, recalling what English professor Janet McNew told her at the time. “If I did so, this would lead to careers that I would enjoy.
“She (McNew) was right. I did have some questions about whether that was the right major for me, but I did love it. It led to great things.”
It certainly has.
As general counsel for the Wolves and Lynx, Spellacy will oversee areas related to and involving risk management, employment law, contract negotiations, dispute resolution and league rules and regulations. She will also play a pivotal role in the planned transition of ownership between Glen Taylor and a group headed by Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez.
“We are thrilled to welcome Suzanne to the Pack,” said Timberwolves and Lynx Chief Executive Officer Ethan Casson in a press release. “She brings a wealth of legal expertise and institutional knowledge to our organization during a very exciting time.”
From 2000-19, Spellacy served in various roles with the Taylor Corporation based in Mankato, Minnesota, which included providing legal counsel to the Timberwolves and Lynx.
“The love of working with the teams and the organization grew from the people,” Spellacy said. “The leadership team here at the Timberwolves and Lynx is a really great group, and I formed good relationships when I was at Taylor. That was the main thing that attracted me to working with the Timberwolves and Lynx.
“But I also just love being in an organization and the league that is on the leading edge in so many ways, whether its social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as pioneering technologies and new experiences for our fans. It’s just a constant source of opportunities to find new solutions and approaches, and that’s really energizing.”
Spellacy received an energy boost when she enrolled at CSB and encountered two great professors.
“Dr. Janet McNew was my favorite professor. She was my freshmen seminar professor and became my adviser throughout college,” Spellacy said. “She helped me understand my strengths, and she continuously encouraged me to push myself. Looking back, she was one of the most influential people in my academic career.
“Also, Fr. Patrick McDarby co-taught that same freshmen seminar, and he was an outstanding professor. So, right off the bat, having the opportunity to learn from two amazing English professors was just a very formative experience that helped shape my career,” Spellacy said.
When Spellacy graduated from CSB in 1987, she worked as a marketing writer and designer. She even thought about going to graduate school and becoming an English professor.
“While I was working, I decided that I thought my strengths (were) in something that was more analytical. That’s when I chose law as a path, and I started law school (at the University of Minnesota) after I graduated from (CSB),” Spellacy said.
But that liberal arts background served as a terrific foundation for her career in law. Spellacy was asked what advice she might give a CSB/SJU student considering a career in that field.
“Without a doubt, be the very best writer you possibly can be,” Spellacy said. “Writing is the underpinning for everything that you do with the law, no matter what area of law you practice. Along with that, take courses that really help you hone your critical analysis and reasoning skills.
“I would say my liberal arts education helped me see connections between things that may not seem obvious, and taught me to think creatively about new challenges,” she added.
Unlike her time at the Taylor Corporation, Spellacy is now devoting her time exclusively to the Timberwolves and Lynx.
It’s an exciting time for both teams, Spellacy said. The Lynx won seven games in a row before the Olympic break and resume play Aug. 15. The Timberwolves – under new Coach Chris Finch – were 5-5 in their final 10 games of the regular season.
Spellacy noted the growth in the sports industry in employing people from a multitude of diverse backgrounds.
“The Timberwolves and Lynx are definitely leading the way in that area, so I’m excited to play a role in our focus on diversity and equity inclusion and to serve on our Women in Sports Leadership steering committee,” Spellacy said.
“The career lesson I’ve learned over time is to choose opportunities that allow you to work with people with whom you can build trusting relationships. That is really the basis of my excitement about joining the Timberwolves and Lynx - the amazing people I’m working with every day,” Spellacy said.