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Rockin' in the Motor City

Posted by Alex W.C. on 9:18 PM
Whew, I feel like I’ve been on the road for a while, and it is only my first stop. Man, I wasn’t even in Detroit long enough to unpack. *laugh* Seriously though, Detroit was great time, and I have a lot to say about it. So, let’s get started!



I arrived at the backstage entrance of the Palace to get my media credentials. It was very “rock star”, of course, minus hordes of screaming fans. (darn it!) I was warmly greeted by Shock PR coordinator Megan Heinemann, who showed me around. We went out on the floor of the Palace where Sacramento Monarch Kara Lawson was warming up. I met up with Lauren Harper who works on the Detroit Shock home page & she said that she wanted to interview me at halftime. (Click here for interview) She also made sure I was featured on the Detroit Shock homepage; how cool is that? Just look for 13 Teams, 1 Journey!(Click here) The staff there was very friendly and was excited that Detroit was the first stop. Upon passing the coaches office, I got a chance to say hi to Rick Mahorn. He was very laid back and asked, “Do you need me for anything?” I politely said no, and that I was just hanging back and observing. He was cool with that, and went about his pre-game coaching duties. I am still kicking myself for not getting the chance to get some 1 on 1 time with him.

Hold up...Let me back up a little and just try to paint a picture of the state of mind I was in at this time. There I am, backstage at the Palace, home of the Pistons and the Shock. This is an area where not many get to go, let alone many fans. I felt very privileged to say the least. Players are walking by getting ready, staff members are on radios making sure everything is finalized. This is when it really HIT me. This is really happening, …no really, this IS REALLY HAPPENING. For the first time in my life, I was at a loss for words.(to any friends & family of mine reading this – don’t even go there! lol!) For the next 30 min or so, whenever Megan would ask me a question, the only 4 words I knew were “Yeah, uh-huh, ok, sure.” After a while, I started talking like a normal human being.

I did get a photo op with coach Mahorn post game, (it helped that the Shock won; probably put him in a better mood) He shook my hand, and wished me well on my trip. Even after a big game he was totally cool and laid back. I will say this…that even with me standing 6’3”, I felt very short standing next to him. Just take a look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean.


(Photos courtesy of www.detroitshock.com)

Back to me feeling like a kid seeing Santa for the first time…I bumped into Katie Smith who said she had a few minutes, but I told her I would talk to her post game. (She was on her way out to warm up – I think that was more important.) After that, I was shown into the locker room. Now, from personal experience (growing up with 2 sisters and NO brothers) I have learned to respect women and their privacy. When I walked in, Cheryl Ford was in there, and she had this look of “Umm, why is there a man in the locker room?” *laugh* In all fairness, she had no idea who I was or why I would be in the locker room. Plus, in my eyes, that is her space. So, I opted to just hang outside. (FYI – post game we had a chat and she was very friendly. We talked about the aforementioned locker room run in, and she was completely cool with it. I’ll mention that later...) I was able to get some video footage of the inside of the locker room, like name placards on lockers and such. Trying to be respectful, I just shot above the lockers and not the contents of them. There were some “personal” items in view, and well…(remember, grew up with sisters) I didn’t think any of the players would enjoy having those on camera. (Yeah, it was slightly awkward.) I decided not to post that video footage for obvious reasons.

Before the game, I had a chance to talk to Barb Farris and Plenette Pierson. Barb was cool. I mentioned that we had met when she was had played for Phoenix. We had a casual moment, and talked about her being back in Detroit; she was just as friendly as I remembered. Plenette had her arm in a sling, so I figured I would ask about it. I had no idea that she was out for the season. But she was straight forward, professional, and gracious at the same time. It was loud during the interview, but you can hear her better. (and that’s the important thing, right kids?)

Here's the video of my Interview w/ Barb Farris.



Then it was game time! I was shown to my courtside seat, (which was completely unexpected) This was the first time I had sat this close to the game, and let me tell you, any closer, and I would be in the game. (side note, I doubt either team would take me. *laugh*) When the players took the court, Katie Smith was very cordial with high-fives to all of the Monarchs. Always a good way to start the game.

A couple people on twitter asked me to compare opening video’s to those of the Phoenix Mercury. The opening video used the black eye’s peas “Boom, Boom, Pow.” (I have a feeling that song is going to echo at quite a few sports arenas for a while...) It was simple, yet cool, featuring each player in a kind of dance theme, mixed in with game footage. It got the crowd hyped. I will admit, I am still partial to the video intro for my Mercury. *smile*

During the game, I was featured on the Jumbotron. I was taken aback at first, because this camera man just kneeled in front of me and put me on camera. I kind of knew what was coming, but I wasn’t sure when I would get on camera. I got a good cheer from the crowd, which was neat. It is a good thing they didn’t introduce me as a Phoenix Mercury fan. *laugh* They did mention me as the “Superfan” – and it kind of stuck. Hmm, that sounds like a title that should come with a theme song, and a cape (as KinitaA on twitter suggested)


(I need to work on my "excited" look don't I? *laugh* Man, those legs need a tan, a.s.a.p.!!)

It was a good game, with the Shock holding a lead, but the Monarchs fought hard and often would reduce that lead to a single digit lead. The Shock came out on top though with a great showing from Cheryl Ford & Kara Braxton in the paint, Deanna Nolan (aka Tweety) and Shavonte Zellous knockin’ down shots, and Kristin Haynie (who has some speed!) with some quick steals.

Post game was almost as exciting as the game itself. I got to sit in the locker room and interview Katie Smith, who was cool with the “shoulder buddy” style to my interview. Yeah, I am my own crew!


I had so many questions, but my mind went blank at the last minute. I did get to ask her to talk about the camaraderie among the players in the league, and she had a great reply.

Here's the video of my interviews with Plenette Pierson and Katie Smith.



Afterward, she signed my Olympic gold medal shirt, and asked me a little about my trip. (What, she didn’t get the memo? *laugh*) Katie left for a meet-and-greet with fans, and I had a follow up chat with Barb Farris and Cheryl Ford. Both were very friendly, and tired, with good reason. I complimented Cheryl on a good game; she mentioned that she "got into a little trouble" in the last game, so she wanted to "step it up".

She did.

After a few goodbyes I headed back to my rental car for the long drive back to the hotel. The ride home was a perfect time to reflect on the evening. Overall, I was so impressed with the players and coaches on how welcoming they were, and that they were genuinely interested in my journey. The prevailing atmosphere at the Palace was one of love for basketball, and support for those who feel the same way. I can safely say after my experience in Detroit, I now love the game even more.

Next stop, HOTlanta!

Links:
Feature article in Detroit Free Press (Click here)

Feature on
Detroit Shock homepage (Click here)



Feature on local Detroit station WXYZ, channel 7.


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It's 1 am in Arizona, do you know where my brain is?

Posted by Alex W.C. on 1:47 AM
OK, made this vid from my office, just hours before I fly out. As you can see, I am not quite coherent. Let's hope I get better before I get to Detroit. :-)


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ABC 15 shows support!

Posted by Alex W.C. on 2:30 PM
Local Phoenix Channel 15 is featuring my journey! Cool! Story to air on the news tonight or tomorrow @ 6 and/or 10p (MST) Was supposed to showcase my Mercury shrine, (see photos below) but Suns called a press conference and had to change plans. Either way, they made it happen. I'm already featured on their sports page...click here!.

Thanks to ABC 15 Sports Producer/Reporter Cory Williams!!













In other news, I submitted an 1design for the WNBA shooting shirt contest.


Submit one too by clicking here!


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Gettin' some love from my hometown team!

Posted by Alex W.C. on 6:09 PM
I was recently interviewed by a representative from the Phoenix Mercury! Thanks to Arash Azarmi @ PhoenixMercury.com

Check it out, click here!

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It all comes down to this...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 11:12 AM
Hey All! New video posted, recapping all of the events that are leading up to my departure date...which is less than 10 days away!!! I can't believe it! I haven't even started packing yet...sheesh, I better do some laundry, a.s.a.p!


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Sick and Tired

Posted by Alex W.C. on 8:18 PM
Wouldn’t you know it? The day my summer break starts and I get sick. Not just a little cold sick…no…full blown body aching, fever (not Indiana *chortle*) cough and stuck in bed sick. UG! If it is the one thing I hate most is being sick. You really have no control over the virus that has got you, and you just have to let it run it’s course. Oh well. Got plenty of zinc and vitamin C, plus, lots of tea and cranberry juice. Monday was hell, but today has been better. Funny thing is, I am kind of glad this happened now. I know it sounds weird, but originally, I had planned my trip to start on June 8th – that is – until they announced the all star game. That caused me to revamp my entire trip, and the start date was moved to June 28th . I can just imagine trying to leave on June 8th, to begin the experience of a lifetime feeling the way I do. That would be a downer.

Speaking of downers…

Being sick reminded me of just how sick I am...for another reason. Mind you, I knew that even before I started my journey, I would get some negative reactions and posts from the WNBA haters out there. I’ve seen them on you tube and facebook. I tend to ignore them, as I think paying them attention is a waste of my time. But over the last few weeks they seemed to build, to a point where I just could not take it anymore. Why people take so much time to express negative and hateful words I will never know. But the sad thing is, it is nothing new. Every condescending, ignorant remark that I read follows the same tired, old pattern. See if you can follow me...

It starts with what I like to call the “automatic discount” - the devaluing of female athletes simply because of their gender. Never mind their skills, determination or love of the game. Ignore the fact that many of these athletes play year round, achieve multiple championship titles, and gold medals. No, all of this goes out the window simply because of one thing; they're female. It is so hard to believe that we live in the year 2009 and the opinion of female athletes still viewed as such.

This is followed by low-brow and low-class statements that can only be referred to as the “double-standard”. One comment I read said that, “ I am not going to watch a game where all there is are turnovers, shots clanking of the front of the rim and bad passes”. Oh, silly me, I forgot, the athletes in the NBA make every shot, and commit absolutely no turnovers and nothing but the perfect of passes. Sorry to let you down, but the athletes in the NBA and the WNBA are not perfect. Those kinds of things happen in both leagues. That does not mean one is better than the other, or worse than the other. And why does the double standard exist? See “automatic discount.”

The last and surely not least are the collection of narrow minded stereotypes that people tend to slap on the WNBA without a second thought. I saw one of them in a comment to one of the videos I posted on you tube, which read, “The only real "fans" that come are feminists.” Hmm, I’ve not seen Gloria Steinem at a game recently, but still, I disagree. The season ticket holder that sat next to me in the 2008 season was a father of a teenage son and daughter, which he brought to the games on a regular basis. Something tells me he was not one of the supporters of the feminist movement.

One of the things that hit me the most though, was not the comments on you tube or facebook; but an article in the L.A. Times, by a female writer, a former athlete, who wrote why she is not a fan of the WNBA. One statement she made I felt was a smack across the face, “Another reason the WNBA is underappreciated is the lack of male interest in the game.” Oh, because guys don’t like it, no one will? Does this woman believe that about everything in life? That only a man’s interest in something will give it value? Hello, 1952 called, they want their chauvinist ideals back! Not to let it slide, my girl D.T. #3 wrote a very intelligent response. This is why I love the WNBA: No one just sits back and takes the abuse, especially Diana Taurasi.

It boils down to this; The WNBA haters will not break us. There is one thing that the athletes and the fans of the WNBA share, and that is resilience. Since 1972 and the passage of title 9 (and even prior), female athletes and their fans have been fighting an uphill battle for acceptance. Still, in 2009, that battle continues. But, year after year, women’s sports continue to thrive in the face of adversity. This year marks the 13th year of the WNBA, the longest running and most successful professional league for female basketball players.

…and it’s only going to get better.

The WNBA – know it, live it, love it!

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Fans, Fez and the Fall of the E-league

Posted by Alex W.C. on 6:52 AM
Monday night, a few of the Mercury players were hanging out at FEZ, a local restaurant/bar here in Phoenix. I got the chance to chat it up with them as well. Here's my 1st impression:













DeWanna Bonner: Great kid! Very friendly and quite personable. She is going to be a fan fave for sure.












Nicole Ohlde: Talked about her toe (which was broken...key word is was) and also about how happy she is to be in Phoenix. I think she'll be a good fit.

Laurie Koehn: We laughed together, as we shared a mutual dislike for the traffic and streets of D.C. (I went to grad school and lived there for 3 years) Very nice to talk to.

Tangela Smith: Tan was fun as always; she was serving up water, making sure everyone was hydrated. I think she just wanted to eat. LOL!

A great night in Phoenix to start the season off right. Can't wait to see the game this Saturday. The season is here, and it is ON!

And speaking of which....



When will the men learn? In case you missed it...The Chicago Sky took on the guys of the E league celebrity team in an exhibition game dubbed "The battle of the sexes". The Sky dominated the floor and crushed the E league in a blow out in a 55 - 102 win. The game was very physical, as the guys from the e-league attempted (and I use the word "attempted" lightly) to bring their A game against Fowles, Dupree & co. With only a measly 1 point lead (the only lead the E league ever had) for about 10 seconds in the first Q, the E league never had a chance; but it was entertaining to watch them try.

Hey guys, the athletes in the WNBA got game. Learn it & know it, because there is no denying it.

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