When Alissa Dorman ’10 M’12 was a starting forward and co-captain of Robert Morris University’s Women’s Ice Hockey team, she would put on mascara and straighten her hair before every game. When the opposing players saw her, they would try to get under her skin by calling her “beauty queen.” But that just made her laugh.
“I’ve been called worse,” she says.
Dorman, who studied advertising, sport management, and organizational leadership at Robert Morris, is the face behind N9NE Athletics, an up-and-coming online women’s athletics fashions retailer with a powerful message for female athletes.
“N9NE is designed to represent any female who puts her game face on,” says Dorman. “It’s about being confident in being a female; being strong and tough and not apologizing for it.”
During her time at RMU, Dorman wanted to find a way to promote girls’ athletics and to show that you could be both tough and feminine at the same time. “To me it wasn’t about looking a certain way,” she says, “but more about putting my game face on. And I knew I wasn’t the only female athlete who did this. So I created a Facebook group and started gaining a following. My brother Scott and I kicked around some ideas of what we could do with this vision, and ultimately we decided to start a line of statement tees that would shed some light on femininity in sport, with a little edge.”
Originally from Madison, Wisc., Dorman started playing when she was just four years old and was often the only girl on the team. “Growing up, people were always surprised that I played hockey,” she says. “I used to come home from school and play Barbies until hockey practice.” She came to RMU after being recruited for the women’s hockey program, which was started in 2005. “I remember coming for my visit, and I fell in love with the city. That August I packed my car and drove from Madison to Pittsburgh by myself. I was nervous about leaving home, but I quickly found a family in my team and ended up staying for seven years.”
In 2009, Dorman served has class vice president and was the recipient of the university’s Outstanding Senior Award. After graduation, she worked as a marketing coordinator for American Eagle Outfitters while pursuing her M.S. in organizational leadership from RMU. After that she worked as a social media coordinator for Lululemon Athletica in Columbus, Ohio, before landing her current role as an account coordinator for GMR Marketing in Milwaukee.
Dorman says having been a student athlete has definitely helped her in her career, whether it’s been getting her in the door for an interview or networking with people. “One of the biggest things RMU taught me is how to be a leader and how to work with people,” she says. “Being an athlete, you quickly learn the importance of working together. I have noticed that is one thing employers will look for. At Robert Morris, that same lesson was carried over into the classroom.”
N9NE launched its first statement tee (“My Game Face Includes Mascara”) in September, and Dorman says they hope to unveil two more in the early part of next year. “We’re a new company, and staying on brand is very important to us. We want to make sure we do it the right way.”
Down the road she hopes N9NE Athletics will be a household name, with the retailer’s fashions in every Dick’s Sporting Goods store across the country. “There is a lot of work to be done and we need to catch a few breaks along the way, but we really feel the potential is there to make this something big.” ~
Written by Valentine J. Brkich