Play to Win

“I know two things in life. I know business, and I know sports.”

That’s Norma Provencio ’79 talking. If you hang around a university campus long enough — actually, just for a short time — you quickly learn that lots of athletes on the intercollegiate teams major in business. Provencio majored in accounting. She has the business base covered, you might say. She runs (well, she founded it) Provencio Advisory Services, a financial consulting firm in Covina, California, that focuses on health care organizations. In the ’90s, she was a crucial player at Arthur Andersen when the firm helped establish the Local Initiative Health Authority for Los Angeles County (L.A. Care), which brought medical care to 500,000 Angelenos, an achievement she’s proud of.

As for the sports pedigree, Provencio, a devoted contributor to LMU Athletics, never wore the jersey. That’s right: Dig out your old yearbook. You won’t find No. 34, Norma Provencio, down at the end of the 1978–79 LMU women’s basketball team bench — the sharp, observant, inspiring, highly competitive role player who excels later in life because she learned how to compete and knows how to motivate people around her.

Provencio pretty much is that person, make no mistake, but she wasn’t on that team. Instead, she played just about every intramural sport there was for women when she wasn’t sitting in a St. Robert’s classroom: water polo, volleyball, softball and basketball. But today, you’ll find Provencio at the head of the women’s basketball team bench as an honorary coach with Coach Charity Elliott’s staff, because she is one of that team’s true fans.

“I’m a huge fan of team sports because team sports teach you how to work with others for a common goal,” she says. “Athletics builds character and leadership skills.”

And in the past few months, you’d have found her on the committee that’s been deeply involved in selecting LMU’s new athletics director. “I believe great universities have great sports teams. If you want to raise the profile of the university, one of the best ways to do it is through sports.”

That ethic is part of her approach to work, too: “Business is always interesting because you’re always trying to figure out what it takes to get to the next level.” That’s definitely coach talk.

As for her giving back to LMU, Provencio pursues that with intention, too. Her financial commitment to the College of Business Administration, her academic turf, is significant. She established the Provencio/Arias Family Accounting Scholarship for CBA students. Call it an act of generosity, but to her it’s an obligation.

“When I went to LMU, I received a California state scholarship. Between that and the money I got from LMU, I came to LMU without having to pay anything. That was an enormous gift, and with that gift comes an enormous responsibility.”