A WNBA Woman
The 15th year celebration of the WNBA comes at no better time.
by Candice Wiggins / @candicewiggins
When I was 6 years old, I was not even close to being good at basketball. I only scored 2 points the whole season (although my first rec team went undefeated and won the championship). Even though I was playing up against girls that were three and four years older than me (I was 5 turning 6, they were 8 and 9), I still wanted to be the best. But I wasn’t. That was when I first contracted what I now call my “competition sickness”. I had to be good, by any means necessary. Then, something ridiculous and partially unexplainable happened. I got GOOD the next season. Really good, to the point that I can still remember the moment I thought to myself as an 8 year old, “I’m good!” I believe that for me and for all great players “getting good” starts with having goals and then applying yourself. It took me countless hours of practice but I was dedicated. It was then a little hard for me to understand how good I truly wanted to be…I was at times even getting bored as a 9 and 10 year old, with high aspirations to be an Olympian like my ’96 Atlanta girls, but nothing really motivated me for the next four years, outside of college women’s basketball. Then suddenly my mom ran into my room and told me to turn on the TV.
“Look Candi, look who’s got next?!!!” It was 1997. The WNBA was launching.
I promise, there is no word in the dictionary that can describe what hearing that felt like as a 10 year old. A WNBA??? Like, a women’s NBA? It sounded absolutely as amazing as what dreaming about it felt like. I loved watching men’s basketball, there are no better teachers of the game, but this new thing exclusively showcased women, but had the look and feel of the NBA! And at the time, this was amazing for me because it was now exciting to my family, who were passionately watching me even when I was 6 years old. I don’t think people understand the amount of hope the WNBA instilled in me, yet simultaneously it was hard for me to truly fathom what playing in the WNBA would feel like. In fact, it almost felt like a lifetime away….when my moment came, would I be ready?
So, a lifetime later…
I was drafted to the Minnesota Lynx in 2008, a truly special year in more ways than one, after leading Stanford to a National Championship game my senior year.
The moment was so personal, so special to my mother and myself. It was like finally crossing into this world that only began 15 years ago. 15 years may seem like not that long ago, and in many ways it isn’t. But I’m proud to congratulate the WNBA for all that it’s done, is doing, and will continue to do. I also want to give a special shout-out to the never forgotten ABL, which had an immense part in keeping women’s professional basketball relevant and alive in this country. Mechelle Voepel says it best in her blog about the two leagues.
While we have many hurdles obstacles to overcome before naysayers fully support the WNBA, I think everyone can take time out to celebrate the WNBA’s 15 years of existence.
The WNBA has been nothing but supportive toward its players. As many of our fans may know the WNBA allows its players to play overseas during the off-season. This support has allowed me to bring to you the Candice Wiggins Overseas Experience. It is my goal to share my deep love and appreciation of the goal with each and every fan as we travel together to Spain.
Thank you WNBA, for changing the way I thought as a young baller. It gives me another thing to play for in this 2011 season.
(Watch for the Minnesota Lynx this summer, where Candice Wiggins will be playing.)