On a fall Saturday morning in 1984, 16-year-old Kim Stone walked around Mills River neighborhoods with boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. She wondered how many more boxes she and the other volleyball players would have to sell to buy new uniforms. What puzzled her was why the Falcon football team got brand new uniforms without raising funds.
“I said my piece to the athletic director and made it known that I thought it was wrong,” Stone said. “I will never forget. I got pulled into the head football coach’s office, and he basically told me I needed to know where my place was.”
Her desire to find the truth and right wrongs and her drive for success has pushed Stone to her current position as executive vice president of the Miami Heat basketball organization. From being the first female sports editor of Wingspan to being named an influential business woman in the South Florida market, this Hendersonville native and 1985 West graduate has seen a professional life filled with successes.
During her time at West, Stone was all-conference in basketball, won a state championship in volleyball and was an outstanding mile runner in track. She participated in SGA and journalism all four years.
“It’s just who I am,” Stone said. “I’m always on the go, always very social, juggling multiple things has just always been what I’ve done. I learned that while I was in Hendersonville. When I would run the mile in track, I would do all of my thinking and get everything organized in my head. My idea of a horrible life would be doing the same thing over and over every day. That’s why I love what I do with the Heat. There is always something different to do.”
After getting her journalism degree from Chapel Hill in 1989, Stone was quickly hired by the University of Miami in the sports information department, beginning her span of almost two decades in the South Florida sports market.
During that time period, she got to know Andy Elisburg, the current general manager of the Heat. In 1996, a job opened up in the sports media relations department for the Miami Heat. Elisburg knew her and knew her abilities and was able to give her the job. In 2006, Stone was promoted to executive vice president, her current position.
“I like to call it ‘continuous and never-ending improvement.’ I believe you always have to get better and always can get better,” Stone said. “You need to learn as you grow, or else you stop growing. I think people can sometimes fear change, but I feel like that can be healthy and positive.”
When the Heat won the NBA championship in 2011, Stone was faced with the challenge of pulling off a celebration parade for 300,000 people in 85 degree weather in downtown Miami in three days. She calls it her greatest success of her career in the sports market.
“We pulled it off,” Stone said. “It took a lot of work. It was three sleepless nights for myself. To me, that is my highest professional achievement.”
Being a woman in a profession dominated by males, Stone has experienced discrimination. In one case, a player made some sexist remarks about her coming in the locker room to find players for media interviews. But Stone does not consider herself a feminist.
“You hire the best people, give them the resources, and let them do their job regardless of skin color, gender or anything,” Stone said. “I am actually lucky to work in an area, Miami, where diversity is celebrated.”
Stone’s work has not gone unnoticed. On Oct. 10, Stone and seven other Tar Heels were inducted into the School of Journalism and Mass Communications Hall of Fame.
“(UNC) really formed a lot of who I am today,” Stone said. “To be a part of that class of such successful people was extremely humbling and without a doubt the highest honor I have ever received.”
Part of Stone’s responsibilities include being the general manager of American Airlines Arena where the Heat play. Her role includes scheduling and pulling off concerts and special events, including performances by Kevin Hart, The Who, Sam Smith and Madonna. In 2006, the NBA finals generated $8 million for the Arena.
All of Stones achievments can be summed up by her advice to students: “Make sure you dream big, and get out of Hendersonville to discover the world.”
By Jackson Whiting