After the Chicago Sky beat the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 to clinch the 2021 WNBA championship, our Editor-in-Chief asked me to write about my connection with the Sky. I gladly accepted the opportunity to share my story.
With no hyperbole, I can say that I wouldn’t have this career if it weren’t for the Chicago Sky. In 2018 I was getting back into basketball after a couple of years of not watching due to my college studies. After college, I got my life back and was able to do the things I enjoyed. I immediately started watching NBA games again, and it rekindled my love for the game. After the season was over, I was hungry for more basketball, but what could I do? The NBA season was over, and the offseason is long. Then I remembered a women’s league that runs opposite of the NBA called the WNBA. Maybe I should give it a try?
I had watched a few WNBA games before here and there. I remembered the early WNBA games with Lisa Leslie, and I watched some Team USA games during the 98 Olympics. Still, I only watched sporadically and casually. I never gave it a real try. So, in my need for more basketball, I decided to watch a Chicago Sky game from front to back and give it a chance.
I was hooked. I don’t remember anything about the game, but I remember how they made me feel. I loved the speed and style of the game. The Sky were my local team and not very good, but fun to watch. I watched every game that season and I couldn’t get enough. So much so that I was looking for more coverage on the team. Podcats, articles, youtube videos, anything I could consume about my new favorite team.
Unfortunately, coverage was abysmal. There were few local articles, no podcasts, and nothing on YouTube. I thought to myself, “I can’t be the only one wanting this. How is there so little coverage?” After giving it some thought, I decided it was my duty to provide the content myself. I wasn’t going to let this team go uncovered anymore. Why can’t I build up a site? Why can’t the Sky have dedicated coverage just like the Bulls do? Why not?
I watched basketball all my life, minus the college hiatus, and I was already a good writer in school, so the transition to sports coverage wasn’t too difficult. I was comfortable doing it. I was good at it. The more I worked on my articles and my site, the more I loved doing it. My love for the Sky continued to grow with my follower count on Twitter, my website's traffic, and attention from leading sites covering the Women’s game. Soon things evolved from a passion project to my main project. All I wanted to do was cover this wonderful team and this beautiful game, so I decided to pursue this job full-time.
Now I’m a year into doing this as my primary profession, and it’s been incredible. My work all-around has increased, my pay has increased, and the quality of my work has increased. And oh yeah, the Sky are good! The team has gotten better and grown every year, and I feel like I grew alongside them. Now there are a few podcasts, some YouTube Channels, and plenty of articles on the Chicago Sky. I no longer feel like the coverage is non-existent. It’s still not where we all want it to be, but it’s so much better than it was in 2018. I’m proud of whatever role I played in growing the game.
The Sky season had its ups and downs in 2021, but being here and covering this run for my own site and Swish Appeal has been special. When the Sky rallied back to win Game 4 against the Mercury, I cried. As men, we struggle with these kinds of emotions. It’s not what I’m supposed to say as a man and not what I’m supposed to say as a journalist, but whatever. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and you can rest assured I, as a journalist, will always tell you the truth and what I think about it. I cried after Dolson gave the Sky a four-point lead with 45.9 seconds left. I knew the Sky were going to win. From there on out, it was just me crying, trying to still take notes on the closings seconds of the game, and getting myself together enough to join the press conference. Ultimately, I did all those things, and I was able to celebrate the team’s title while doing all the work I dreamed of doing; the story had come full circle. I was in my new career covering the team I love, the sport I love, and seeing all of Chicago become Skytown.
I’m not sure if this will be one of several titles during the James Wade era or the highlight of a journey, but I’m grateful for the voyage, and I’m looking forward to what’s next. I’m so excited to continue covering the women’s game here at Swish Appeal, and I can’t wait to see the Sky raise their first banner at Wintrust Arena next season. A lot has changed since that 2018 day when I watched the Sky for the first time, but one thing hasn’t. I love this team.