I wasn't at this event for the whole thing since I was there for the Wizards game primarily and focused more of my energy toward that so I wasn't there for the whole event. Here are the notable things I saw.
1. There is a new business staff just focused on the WNBA team.
Monumental Sports has decided to refocus Mystics business efforts by having some staff members who focus solely on Mystics sales and guest services. Previously, the staff has been integrated with the Wizards. The team hired Danita Johnson as the director for Mystics ticket sales, and Ketsia Colimon as the team's new business operations director. Johnson comes to Monumental Sports from the Tulsa Shock where she served in the same position when the team relocated there from Detroit. Colimon has been the team's communications chief and has moved into her new role. I have a snapshot of the email that I got from the team here.
There are now some Mystics sales/service representatives who now handle and service accounts solely for the WNBA team, and this has been something that a number of fans wanted. At least from a traditional customer service standpoint, I think this is a good move for most Mystics fans who don't have tickets for the Wizards. Customer service reps in sports can't control the wins and losses (which I also believe is a major part of customer service), but at the same time, these representatives need to cater to the fans all year round by making them feel wanted and sharing passion for women's basketball. This is a way to do that.
The reality of the WNBA, in particular if the team shares staff with an NBA or an NHL team is this. The WNBA is a summer league that's only four months long at most assuming a team plays in the Finals. The NBA and NHL are leagues that basically play from October through June if the team gets to the NBA or Stanley Cup Finals. And with the WNBA having a long offseason and not being a big four league may not make it a high priority for folks who have to work for multiple teams. I'm not saying that the old system wasn't working at all, but I'm saying that the new system alleviates that concern for the Mystics fans who aren't Wizards STH's as well, and I'm not in that group.
Coach Thibault has earned a lot of approval from me for every basketball move he's made so far. I also have to give my approval to Monumental Sports for this as well because a separate Mystics staff will help ensure that current fans of the team are happy from the traditional standpoint of customer service. Hopefully this and Coach Thibault's basketball moves and strategy can create something good to root for over the coming seasons.
2. Coach Thibault was there.
Met him and congratulated/thanked him for the great work he's done so far. And he has! Not much more to say besides repeating myself.
3. Natalie Novosel was also at the event.
Here's a pic, via the Mystics' twitter account:
Awesome that I got to meet her too! I hope she gets an opportunity to really show what she can do, and yes, that is despite the notion that She now figures to be part of the 2013 team now along with recently acquired players such as Kia Vaughn, Ivory Latta, Avery Warley, and yes, Crystal Langhorne now expects to be on this team as well.
UND Basketball blog In the Paint had an additional piece on the Mystics guard and Irish alumna earlier this week which sheds some light on how Natalie has spent the 2012-2013 offseason. She played for Romanian team Targoviste but left in December when the team slashed its budget according to lovewomensbasketball.com which prompted a number of player departures including Novosel's. Now she's working hard to get ready for the 2013 season and show what she can do in a meaningful role, one which she was never given by the previous regime. Natalie also attended some Notre Dame basketball games as well earlier this month. Even her high school in Lexington, KY, Lexington Catholic High, retired her number a couple weeks ago.
So I'm happy that Natalie is working hard this offseason, and if she was the only player at the event with Coach Thibault, and as far as I know that was the case, then that means she figures to be here in DC for 2013, and I'm confident that she will have a true opportunity to unleash the nasty on opponents this season.
4. There was a Q&A with Coach Thibault, Novosel and the Mystics business staff I presume. However, I got into the arena to watch pregame warmups, etc. by then. Unfortunately, the Wizards lost to the Detroit Pistons, 96-95, on a Trevor Ariza air ball that looked like it went in from some camera angles....
Again I wasn't there for it, so I don't know what was in that Q&A. Most likely, it would be about the recent trades and possible moves this team may make going forward. If anyone was there for the latter part of this and wants to share any insight, feel free to email me at wizfan06 AT gmail DOT com. I'll give you props!
That's all from my end here.
UPDATE at 3:55 PM ET: Here's a correction and clarification. The UND blog post indicated that Targoviste folded after the team slashed its budget in December 2012. However, though a number of players, including Novosel left after that time, the team still continued playing after January 2013. A copy of the team's schedule is here which corroborates that. H/T truthtella for the info.