Where can you find some of the most multi-talented, history-making, record-setting athletes in the world — who also happen to be women, women of color, women of different backgrounds, highly-educated women, women of different sexual orientations and gender identities, women from other other countries who speak English as a second (third or fourth) language?
The WNBA, of course.
Although Swish Appeal celebrates women 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, we seized on the opportunity to share with our dear readers these words of wisdom, strength and inspiration from some of the biggest names in the WNBA.
Reigning three-time WNBA champion, Seattle Storm (active)
“I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but you have to know you’re going to make mistakes. It’s how you respond to those mistakes that counts.”
Reigning WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinalist, Atlanta Dream (active)
“While battling cancer was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to face, I can honestly say that I do not regret the experience because it made me a stronger person. ... As much as we try to plan our lives, sometimes life just throws us a curve ball. Just remember nothing happens to us without reason. ... I realize now that I battled through cancer because other people were depending on me to survive. I tell my story to give them hope. Someone else is depending on your survival story as well.”
Outspoken international basketball star, Dallas Wings (active)
“I’ve said this many times. [The WNBA] doesn’t pay my bills ... playing here doesn’t pay my bills ... We make more money overseas. I’m ready to have next summer off and focus on getting a European contract where [it’s] 10 seasons here worth of pay.”
Basketball icon and game-changer, Dallas Wings (active)
“You don’t have to be the best .... But, you have to be YOUR best.”
Two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Phoenix Mercury (active)
“Don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something. But, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”
Mental health advocate, 11-year WNBA career (retired)
“I wanted to live my truth. I wanted to help myself and also be a voice to those that felt like they had to hide their truth ... I wanted to be a voice for minorities who have more of a culture of suffering in silence when it comes to mental health issues and sexuality. ... I really wanted to find peace for myself and found that sharing my story and helping others has brought me even greater peace.”
Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, 13-year WNBA career (retired)
“I’m strong, I’m tough, I still wear my eyeliner.”
Four-time WNBA champion, Minnesota Lynx (active)
“I want to be aware of how I treat others, not thinking too highly of myself, to be a servant in a culture which tries to place me on a throne that only God should sit.”
2016 WNBA champion and league MVP, LA Sparks (active)
“I am an elite athlete. I am an MVP. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a No. 1 draft pick. I am a WNBA player and I am the president of the WNBPA.”
Four-time WNBA champion, head coach Minnesota Lynx (active)
“[T]he thing I want women to feel is more bold and more brave. They should be able to walk in and say, “I’m qualified for this job, and I should be the person who should get this job.” And that’s not to say you should just get the job because you said it. But women should not to be afraid to ask for what they want. Women are scared into not communicating in fear of losing their job. And that’s just not right. To get real change, you need bold actions. Without it, we’re going to be looking at the same thing 50 years from now.”
Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, 10-year WNBA career (retired)
“A lot of people notice when you succeed, but they don’t see what it takes to get there.”
Reigning WNBA champion and MVP, Seattle Storm (active)
“I’ll never forgive [my abuser]. But I’m not ashamed [of surviving sexual abuse]. Every time I tell someone, I feel a little more unburdened.”
Three-time WNBA champion, Phoenix Mercury (active)
“I’m not afraid of anyone. I’m not shy about anything. Not even my big nose.”
Bonus: The late, great Pat Summitt
Legendary Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame college coach
“We keep score in life because it matters. It counts. Too many people opt out and never discover their own abilities, because they fear failure. They don’t understand commitment. When you learn to keep fighting in the face of potential failure, it gives you a larger skill set to do what you want to do.”
May the force, strength, courage, bravery, beauty and grace be with you — today, and always.