Candace Parker, star forward for the Los Angeles Sparks and former Tennessee Lady Volunteer, appears in the Tuesday, Aug. 4, episode of the “Just Women’s Sports” podcast hosted by United States Women’s National Team soccer player Kelley O’Hara.
Parker, like so many WNBA players, has been at the forefront of advocating for social change in recent months and stressed the importance of visibility in the workplace. She also discussed what it was what like growing up as one of the only Black kids in her hometown of Naperville, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.
Parker also spent a lot of time reminiscing about playing soccer before switching to basketball, her rise to basketball stardom, her relationship with the late Pat Summitt, who coached her at Tennessee, and her Hall of Fame career with the Sparks. The two-time WNBA MVP also explains her determination to dunk like her brothers, getting recruited by Tennessee, playing on a competitive Sparks team with Lisa Leslie when first entering the WNBA and the adversity she faced in 2016 before winning her first WNBA championship.
“When I think basketball, a couple names pop into my head and Candace Parker is one of them,” O’Hara said in a recent email interview with Swish Appeal.
“She is one of the icons of the WNBA and is only a couple years older than me, so I have looked up to her as a trailblazer and how she has just crushed it at every level on and off the court,” O’Hara added.
In the episode, Parker’s thoughts on Summitt get personal — she shares a behind-the-scenes look at things many people may not know about the legendary coach. With regards to that portion of the interview, O’Hara said, “I think it’s the hallmark of great coaches that they help you become both a better person and a player.”
“Coach Summitt wouldn’t be as revered as she is by former players if she only helped them win games,” O’Hara continued. “Hearing Candace speak about her impact honestly brought me back to why sports are so important. At their best, sports teach you how to get the most out of yourself and the opportunities life presents.”
Parker also talks about her relationship with her daughter, Lailaa Williams, and how that relationship has changed the way she approaches life and basketball — a look into the future Hall of Famer’s life that O’Hara found important.
“Candace’s interview was the epitome of what we’re after with this podcast,” she said. “She’s a big name who has won every trophy possible, but there’s still so many backstories people don’t know.”
“What really impressed me was just how much perspective she has,” O’Hara added. “She’s had to travel to both the highs and the lows, and it’s amazing to see how calm and focused she is. She has that championship mindset, and it was awesome to hear her talk with so much candor and composure about her life and her career.”