If there is one thing that's critical for the success of any team, organization or business, it's leadership. Without it, an organization will struggle mightily, all the while never reaching its full potential. And the same translates to sports.
Leadership is a very vital, downright compulsory, component to every successful team, especially when that team has younger players. Without a great leader, there is no realistic chance for any type of success. So with so many unknowns, what better person to lead the Los Angeles Sparks than a proven champion, head coach Brian Agler?
The Sparks' players don't think there is anyone better suited.
Agler's direction from the sidelines, coupled with the leadership on the court from key veterans, will be the main ingredients, for a recipe that they hope yields a successful season. The main focus for Agler is to "figure out what the team's identity is going to be, and getting everyone to believe and buy into that [identity]."
At the helm of said leadership are "three core players" said Agler; Alana Beard, Nneka Ogwumike, and Jantel Lavender. All of which are seasoned players, who not only have experience in the WNBA, but familiarity playing for the Sparks as well. Ogwumike knows that it is vital for the proficient players to be the catalysts.
"We have to step up, assume leadership and mentorship on a team that has as many young players as experienced players," said Ogwumike.
One of those players that's going to be counted on is the 11-year veteran, Beard. She realizes how important the insight from the veterans will be "especially because they have an understanding of what it takes at this level to get things done."
One thing that the Sparks guard is looking forward to, is playing for coach Agler. Being led by a coach with his acumen and credentials, is something that Beard is more than excited about, as he brings a championship pedigree to the City of Angels.
"It's a breath of fresh air," said a smiling Beard.
Additionally, fifth-year veteran, Jantel Lavender, is also expected to step out of the shadows and into the forefront -- and embrace more of a leadership role this season. In the absence of Candace Parker, the 6'4" Lavender realizes that she will be looked upon to help lead the team in the right direction.
She highlighted that there will be more "emphasis on her scoring the basketball, but she is ready and focused" for whatever lies ahead. Leadership and excitement seem to be key in the new identity of the Sparks.
When asked, how excited she was to play for an established leader with championship experience, Ogwumike said with a smile, "I am just glad we were able to snatch him."