To the players of the WNBA,
I understand when you take the court, you aren’t just competing with each other. You are competing against the outside world. That world consists of people who say you are not as good as NBA players or people who know you can play the game, but don’t bother to even learn your names.
I want you to know that not only do I know your names, but I know how you play and why you fight.
At age five, I began playing basketball but it wasn’t until middle school that I started to get serious about the sport. Around that time, my dad started taking me to watch the Dream play, the WNBA team near my home.
There was one game against the Dallas Wings where we had pretty good seats, but we got upgraded to the floor. Being so close – just feet away from you – I felt adrenaline and excitement. Not to mention T-Pain and a few other famous people were sitting near us, so I felt like a celebrity.
At that game, I got to see Skylar Diggins-Smith, who played for Dallas. She’s a burst of energy on the court and she never gives up. She hustles throughout the whole game. Even if she’s not making her shots, she’ll do something to make up for it and then her shots will fall.
She wears number four and because of her, so do I. Early on, she showed me the type of player I wanted to become.
After middle school, I began to dedicate myself more and more to basketball. From practice to one-on-one with trainers, I am trying to grow and improve every day. There are moments I try to picture myself on the court, doing what you do. I try and put the idea in my head that I can play at your level.
Before Sabrina Ionescu rolled her ankle, I saw a play on Instagram, where she went from being on offense to running down and getting the steal, which led to another possession for her team. Throughout entire games she makes plays similar to that one. Her consistency and her hustle reminds me that even when I am tired, I still need to push myself to make those plays.
Also, I have watched how players like Angel McCoughtry lead. She is always composed while also cheering on her teammates. Her demeanor and attitude are qualities I have tried to emulate in my young career.
I just graduated from high school, where I experienced some incredible moments. My sophomore year, I played in the state championship at Georgia Tech, which is the arena where the Dream play. Our championship game was in front of a large crowd filled with scouts and fans. While we didn’t win, being there as a sophomore was memorable. In my junior year, we made it to the regionals. As a team, we prepared similar to how you, as professionals, prepare. We watched film and created offensive and defensive plays to defeat our opponent and shut down their best players. Our plan worked and we played so well together, which is why that game is my favorite of all the games I played in high school.
While I am not on your level yet, I have received a ton of accolades, including First-Team All-Region and Second-Team All-State. This year, I will begin my freshman year at University of West Florida, where I received a scholarship to play ball.
Before heading to school, I have been watching you all battle each other on the floor, while also using your voices to bring attention to social justice. With the #sayhername movement, you are honoring Breonna Taylor and raising awareness for black female victims of police violence. Seeing you all advocate for what is right made it clear to me that in your careers you aren’t just fighting for respect for women’s professional basketball, you are and always have been fighting for respect for us all.
Truly, I want to thank you.
Through the years, you have not only shown me your basketball skills but you have shown me courage and character.
While I have always known your names, it’s because you have allowed me to see to me what’s possible, that one day you might know mine too.