Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Happy Holidays everyone!!
I'm home for the holidays, but I wanted to drop a quick note to let you all know how excited and proud I am to be able to see the inaugural Sue Gunter Classic at LSU! You all know what Coach Gunter meant to me, and it's good to be back home and seeing this all come to life! I am so proud to be a part of her legacy, as she is a big part of mine!
Check out some of the articles below!
Daily Reveille Article
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Even the champs have little time to enjoy their success.
by Ben York
The 2009 WNBA year was irrefutably one of the greatest seasons in the WNBA’s short history. With the amount of talent, athleticism, and supreme competition that was featured on a daily basis the league gained a form of admiration and reverence that was long overdue. But perhaps more importantly, it led to an increase in overall awareness regarding the extraordinary lives these athletes lead and a perfect example of what true hard work and devotion is; something these remarkable ladies don’t get an adequate amount of praise for.
The year was capped off with what is being called the best WNBA Finals series ever between the Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever. Storming out of the gates with one of the finest individual games you’ll ever see, Game 1 of the Finals created a buzz and excitement about women’s basketball that was unprecedented. Fortunately, this continued throughout the rest of the series with the Phoenix Mercury coming out on top in Game 5. With record-setting TV ratings and in-game attendance, the 2009 WNBA Finals provided a platform to showcase an amazing product that is still not being fully appreciated.
“This season was so amazing that I couldn’t even began to put it in words because I’m afraid I would leave out an important part,” Mercury center Tangela Smith said. “Every time I think back to that last second with the buzzer going off, all the confetti, and the song ‘We Are the Champions’ blasting in U.S. Airways Center it bring chills down my spine.” It truly was a magical scene; the players finally feeling fulfilled after a long, arduous season, the release of emotions, and the realization of attaining the pinnacle of sports achievements.
“This year my theme has been ‘expect the unexpected’ and so far it has been that,” Mercury guard Temeka Johnson said. “I couldn’t have painted this picture any better, and to win it all with the group of women I was among topped everything. This championship season was something very special.”
The emotions that Tangela and Temeka speak of are very real, and very humbling. It truly does become difficult to articulate that euphoric moment. For a brief second in time, the Mercury could celebrate and bask in the glory of coming out on top of what has been called the greatest WNBA Finals series of all-time.
Unfortunately, the window of time to reflect and enjoy that success for the Phoenix Mercury was far too small.
For players in the WNBA, the salaries they receive during the season aren’t quite enough to sustain themselves and their families throughout the year. Surprised? Some players make less than an elementary school teacher. With a collective salary cap hovering around $800,000 total per team, the 11 women are forced to look for financial opportunities elsewhere. During the past few decades, the most popular alternative has been heading overseas to play professionally during the WNBA off-season. And while this has been a blessing for these ladies and provided a viable means of supplementing their income in order to adequately provide for their families, there is an enormous toll it takes on the body both physically and mentally.
“I really don’t think many people understand what these ladies go through,” said Mercury head coach Corey Gaines. “They play all year long. In Europe, they practice twice a day all year. They’ll wake up and head to their first practice in the morning, do some sprints and conditioning, then head home for a short break, and come back for a full practice in the afternoon. This is all year long! A lot of them head overseas just hours or a couple days after the WNBA season ends. I remember my first year coaching the Mercury in 2007 we got Diana [Taurasi] and Cappie [Pondexter] back the day before our first game – and it’s not like they are just coming back from New York or something, they’re coming all the way from Russia. On top of that, we played our first game on national television and it was the debut of Candace Parker. But you know what? To Cappie and Diana’s credit they came out and played their butts off, they came out balling. Plus, Diana was sick and not feeling well. Truthfully, I don’t know many men that could handle it.”
Gaines has been around all facets of the game since high school. He played at UCLA and Loyola Marymount in college, had a stint in the NBA for several years, and played professionally in Europe for a long while. Gaines says the amount of time that these women put in is unbelievable, and makes for a challenge in terms of coaching. “It’s a fine line,” Gaines said when asked how much basketball is too much. “If you add the European season onto the WNBA season it’s an incredible amount of basketball. Sometimes the Olympics or World Championships are even in there. It’s tough. You want your players to play during the off-season but you also want them to have a break. It might not necessarily be a break from basketball all together but you want some of their stresses to subside after a long season, whether it’s in the WNBA or in Europe. But at the same time I understand the financial part of it and the financial need. Plus, most of our [Mercury] players are playing in the Championships overseas so it adds that much more basketball. Like I said, it’s a fine line and the amazing part to me is that they do this for years at a time. I really don’t know a lot of men that would be able to handle it.”
Even more remarkable, is that their courageous sacrifices aren’t being talked about. WNBA players simply accept this as part of their lives and don’t make a big deal out of it. The vast majority of players have a humbleness inside them and feel extremely fortunate even to have the opportunity to play overseas. Not only does it speak to the incomparable work ethic of these ladies, but also to their immense love of the sport.
“To be honest, when you still have that burning desire for the game and the love for it is still strong in you, there is no such thing as too much basketball,” Temeka Johnson said. “You are thrilled to be able to what you love to do, continue to entertain those that love to watch you play, and the passion and desire of getting better drives you even more.”
For some players, the amount of basketball played year round is not even something they think about. It’s almost second nature. Their love trumps any and all of the negatives that playing so much can have on your mind and body. “For me, I’m in love with basketball,” Mercury All-Star Cappie Pondexter said. “It can never be too much for me. This is a sport I was born to do and so I cherish every moment I have with it.”
There is a true sense of appreciation and thankfulness that these women have received from playing basketball. “If you really love something I think there is never too much of it,” Mercury guard Ketia Swanier said. “So, until basketball breaks my heart, there is never too much of it.”
At the same time, balancing their love of basketball with their personal lives and families who are hundreds of miles away for half the year can become increasingly difficult, especially for veterans. Tangela Smith has played in the WNBA for 12 years and understands the impact it can have on one’s life more than most.
“This year I was able to take a one and a half month break, but most of my other teammates were not as fortunate,” Tangela said. “They had to go overseas right after we won the championship and that’s what I have done for 11 years out of my 12-year career. It’s very hard and it really takes a toll on your body but I love the game so much that it’s all very much worth it to me. You have to really take care of your body and stay as healthy as you can because that will definitely keep you in the league for a very long time. The traveling is difficult as well because not only are you traveling within the country you are playing but if your on a team that plays in some kind of Euro-league or Cup you would have to travel to other countries as well. Sometimes you are all alone and you are playing with a team full of women who don’t speak English and sometimes even the coach doesn’t. Nowadays it’s better because you can have more than one or two Americans on the same team and more English is spoken. But, like I said before it’s so worth it if you are very passionate about playing and the good definitely outweighs the bad.”
Being gone for several months makes the time you do have with family that much more meaningful. “It’s hard to head overseas when you only have ten days to divide over what loved ones you will visit and getting everything prepared to leave America,” Ketia Swanier said. “I always feel like there is never enough time to spend with my family but basketball is what I’m committed to do and love doing it.” It’s certainly not surprising that staying in touch with friends and family is next to impossible when spending multiple months of every year in a foreign country. Relationships can quickly fade and if there is a family emergency, a car ride or flight isn’t a viable option for the majority of the time. On the other hand, WNBA players and their families have accepted that it comes with the territory. “The hardest part about leaving is the amount of down time you have and you don’t get to enjoy family, friends, and being at home,” Cappie Pondexter said. “It’s the hardest thing to do but at the same time we have to because it’s our livelihood.”
From a coaching perspective, it also becomes tricky to maintain cohesion with your team while they are overseas. Unlike in the NBA where contact can come easily with a quick flight or phone call, many of a coach’s players are hundreds of miles away in various foreign countries. “I stay busy, that’s for sure,” Corey Gaines said. “It’s another fine line. The players need their privacy but at the same time you can’t go months without talking to your team or knowing what’s going on. That’s one of the reasons I make sure I visit as many players as I can when they are overseas. We stay in touch with texting and phones but seeing them face to face is better than a phone call. It also provides an opportunity to see other players up close in practices and games where you wouldn’t get that chance otherwise. So although it’s challenging it helps with the relationship when we can connect overseas as well.”
When the players do return to American to play in the WNBA season, a lot of people aren’t aware that they just finished a grueling European season maybe just a few hours before. They come back to America and are expected to head into another training camp and be mentally prepared for the increasingly competitive WNBA schedule. For WNBA coaches, the key philosophy is balance. “Doug Collins said that the game is now 80 percent percent managing and 20 percent Xs and Os and I believe that,” Gaines said. “Look at the greatest coaches in the game – Phil, Popovich – they manage their team the best. They know their players the best. With the way we (Mercury) play it’s tough because we want the team to be in running shape but you also realize you don’t want to burn them out. Paul Westhead and I never believed in running as a punishment so we like to get the players in shape while playing and going hard. Again, it’s a fine line.”
While the trials and tribulations that WNBA face can be exceedingly difficult, many are pointing to 2009 as a turning point for the league. The appreciation of what the players do all year and the sacrifices they make are beginning to be known. Is the WNBA finally hitting the mainstream? “I hope so,” Corey Gaines said. “It looks that way if you go by the numbers. More people watched on TV and more attended the games; it was sold out in the Finals. When we won in Detroit in 2007 that game actually wasn’t sold out. Hopefully the attention will carry over next year. I’m hoping it does.”
Regardless if it carries over or not, it’s about time these ladies get the recognition they deserve for the sacrifices they make and for their dedication to basketball. Quite simply, it’s unprecedented in professional sports – and should be honored.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
YOUTHFUL EXUBERANCE WITH A PURPOSE
WNBA star offers HOPE to underprivileged youth in New Orleans and Kenner through her non-profit foundation
Thursday, November 26, 2009
By Ryan Chatelain
Bob Starkey points out that there are many similarities between the Temeka Johnson who guided the Phoenix Mercury to a WNBA title last month and the Temeka Johnson who helps children and schools through her foundation.
"When you watch Temeka play, her entire game is about setting people up," said Starkey, associate coach for the LSU women's basketball team. "The records she owns around here, most are about assists. And now in her personal life, she's doing the same thing. She's passing out assists through her foundation. I think she's somebody who enjoys helping people do what they need to do."
Johnson, a 5-foot-3 point guard who played at Bonnabel High School and LSU, finished fourth in the WNBA in assists last season. As a member of the Washington Mystics in 2005, she was chosen the Rookie of the Year. She also led the Lady Tigers to two Final Four appearances.
But Johnson takes pride in her work off the court, too. Her youth-focused HOPE Foundation awards college scholarships and rewards hard-working, underprivileged students with free haircuts, shoes or Christmas shopping sprees. She often visits schools to talk to students about education and self-esteem.
"I think it's important for the kids to know that being a star athlete is not all about the glamour," said Johnson, who won an award from the WNBA in June for her community work and currently is playing in Israel. "I want to be visible enough for them to see that you still have to be a human. You still have to have great character. You still have to be a role model. It's not about the nice cars and the nice rims and all that kind of stuff.
"Plus, I'm from the exact same environment they're from, and I want them to see that you can make it."
Each year, the foundation "adopts" a school. Johnson meets with educators to learn about the school's needs, then raises money to address those shortcomings. Last month, the foundation adopted Washington Montessori School in Kenner.
Johnson's grandmother, Jewel Johnson, who died of cancer in 2008, inspired Temeka Johnson's work with schools. Jewel Johnson was a longtime teacher at Washington, and HOPE named its four scholarships in her honor.
"Education is important, and the kids of today are really our future," Johnson said. "It seems like the education system is falling and dropping lower and lower each year, and kids are not caring about education as much. So I just want to do anything that I can to express the importance of education."
Johnson set her sights on starting a foundation as early as her junior year at LSU. One evening, she walked into Starkey's office and told him about her plan to help people. The two met every few months afterward to discuss the possibility as Johnson researched other charitable groups and crafted her vision for her own foundation. She planned to carry on with the plan whether she played professional ball or not, said Starkey, who serves on HOPE's board and contributes financially.
The name HOPE stands for "heaven opens people's eyes" and is more than a clever acronym, Johnson said.
"Ever since I've been playing this game, everyone has always come at me -- young people, old people, small, tall, short, it didn't matter -- everybody's always told me that I've given them hope," Johnson said. "And when I look at it, it doesn't take anything to give anybody hope. Some kinds words can give them hope, a hug, a pat on the back, just a congratulations."
Johnson has a classic underdog story. The diminutive guard was often told she was too short to play college and professional basketball. LSU fan Tracy Ford was inspired by Johnson's play and has closely followed Johnson's career and donates a monthly check to the foundation.
"I just love the way that she's handled herself," said Ford, 48. "She's a wonderful person. She's got a good heart. Kids her age these days, some of them don't care too much. They don't give back. It's great to see that she's giving something back."
Because WNBA salaries pale in comparison to the pay of major-league men's sports, Johnson's foundation relies more heavily on grassroots fundraising. That suits Johnson just fine.
"It's a lot more fundraising, but you know what though, it's a lot more fun, too," Johnson said. "Because it keeps me involved. I don't just want my name to be used for something. I want to be involved in everything."
Starkey said it's tough to say no to Johnson.
"Temeka's passion gets you excited," he said. "Temeka hasn't come in touch with anybody and talked about her foundation where they haven't come on board in some form or fashion. It just seeps through her pores how much this means to her."
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I just wanted to stop in to say I hope all of you are having a great Thanksgiving!
I hope that you are feeling the same way as I do right now. Knowing that we have so much to be thankful for! I have gone through a lot over the past year and a half, and through it all, the Good Lord has held me in His arms, guided me, protected me, helped me, and ordered my steps through the entire thing. I am SOOOOOOO thankful.
If I look back on 2008, I know for a fact that God was with me in 2009. I went from not playing, to losing my best friend in my Grandmother Jewel Johnson, to playing this year and winning the WNBA Championship! Yes God is good. But I must tell you that through all of that - the hurt, the pain, the emotional roller coaster, the happiness, the joy, etc. - I used the strength that he gave me to get through it all and that makes me smile the most.
The effect that all of that had on so many that was and is a part of my life, was difficult. Seeing my family happy and make it through another year without my grandmother, seeing how happy they are and were to share in my success, seeing how many lives I am able to touch through what I am doing, seeing the smiles that are being placed on everyone's face through THE H.O.P.E. FOUNDATION, knowing that there are many that will be able to go to college through the Jewel Johnson Scholarship. Knowing that my grandmother and Coach Gunter's Legacy will continue to go on through me and all the lives that they have touched. I am telling you all right now that I know for a fact that I have so much to be thankful for.
I could go on and on but I will cut it short. I would like for you all to be able to get to your turkey before it gets too cold, from reading all this! LOL! Take a moment to express your thanks. I know that there is something that you are thankful for, even if its just being blessed to see another day. Thanksgiving is a special day, enjoy it and your family and friends. I know that we give thanks on this day, but I hope that we give thanks everyday, because we all know that tomorrow is not always promised.
Happy Turkey Day everyone! I hope you all eat enough of that good food for me. I will be playing a game and indulging in a turkey sandwich with no mayo, because it is kosher over here (I may not even have any cheese either). LOL it's OK, though, because all in all I am still thankful and truly blessed!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!
Monday, November 23, 2009
OK everyone, I know that I haven't been blogging as much lately, but I figured you all didn't want to hear anything else about me being in Israel. Well sorry if that is true because this past weekend I had a blast in Eilat!
I went to visit the Red Sea. You all know the Sea that Jesus parted for Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. It was so nice yall. The water was beautiful, the scenery was amazing, but most of all just being able to be on the historical grounds was good enough for me.
I don't know if yall know this but I didn't. Surrounding the Red Sea there are four countries. Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Israel; and you are traveling by boat in the sea, so you can see the different flags posted to represent each country. I thought that was really cool. While there, we went to visit the underwater observatory marine park where you can witness the feeding of the fish and sharks by a scuba diver. They feed the big gigantic turtles and the stingrays, too. You get a beautiful view of the ocean on a glass boat that allows you to see the ocean clearly through the bottom off the boat. You could swim with the dolphins, etc., if you'd like. I passed on that!
There were a lot of things to do, I am not saying that I did all of them, but I did get in most of them. LOL. Also while there my teammate Natasha Lacy experienced her first camel ride, as many of you already know I did that last year, so I didn't need to do it again. But Tasha had a blast. Courtney Paris wasn't having it - LOL - I will try and get her on it before I leave from here. That is a goal of mine.
From there we went on a boat ride and here is where Ashley Walker and Tasha went Parasailing, now that was something that I was not doing! Neither was Courtney, LOL, so we went along for the ride and just chilled on the inside of the boat. Ash and Tasha had a blast and I enjoyed laughing at them. We didn't have a lot of time to do everything that we wanted to do, but we did manage to get most of the stuff in.
The hotel was nice and the food was good. The shopping was on point as well. The one thing that was a surprise to me, and I promise I will stop saying that I will NEVER do things, because there is a 1st for everything. Because the roads were closed due to a bike race there was no ride to the airport, so we had to walk to the airport with our luggage in hand. LOL yea this is true we were all shocked, hot and a lil' mad but it was not much we could have done. I must say that we were not the only ones that had to do this and the others were just as upset as we were. There was no warning or anything but it was what it was. Overall the trip went well. I wont even touch on the security problems that we faced. That will entail me writing a book; it was so much, but we made it there and back safely so I am OK.
OK, so now about basketball. We have won every game that I have played in while here. We have a nice one coming up today and another on Thursday which will be a Cup game. They are both very important games so I will keep you posted on how it goes. Or you can check out www.safsal.co.il for daily updates.
Ok yall until next time,
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
By Tomer Ratman
In the game of the week of the women's Premier League, Maccabi Ashdod ran all over host Ramat Hen yesterday en route to an 89-56 thrashing. Ashdod's foreign players had huge games compared to their Ramat Hen counterparts. Tiffany Jackson was neutralized by Ashley Walker, who held her to six points, while Duke graduate Carrem Gay scored 14 points against Courtney Paris but had a dismal shooting percentage.
In the third head-to-head matchup, Ashdod's Temeka Johnson showed Shannon Bobbit the difference between being the starting point guard for WNBA champs Phoenix Mercury and a reserve for the Los Angeles Sparks. Paris led Ashdod with 20 points, and Walker added 17 points.
"It's an embarrassing loss," said Ramat Hen coach Edney Dagan. "This team has a tough mental problem, but I'm not panicking and we won't make any changes."
Elsewhere, Elitzur Netanya rallied at home from a 52-40 halftime deficit to edge ASA Jerusalem 80-77, and moved into second place.
On the men's side, Gilboa/Galil defeated Maccabi Rishon Letzion 76-64 to rejoin Maccabi at the top of the standings, as the only two unbeaten teams left in the Premier League. Jeremy Fargo led Galil with a double-double - 19 points and 10 rebounds, to go with four assists.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
For the WNBA, community is key.
by Ben York
Unarguably, the WNBA and its players set the quintessential standard in terms of professional athletes genuinely having a noble penchant to improve the lives of the less fortunate.
It’s not even debatable.
Now, before I get hate mail from devout fans of other professional leagues, let me state that I respect and admire those athletes who do make a profound effort and emphasis on giving back. But if we’re honest with ourselves, collectively it’s certainly not close to what could be done with the amount of money that floats around the “big 4” – NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL.
That’s why the WNBA gets the crown; they do more with less.
It’s no secret that WNBA players’ salaries are considerably less than other professional athletes; much less. The salary cap for WNBA teams in 2009 was $803,000. For comparisons sake, Kevin Garnett made about $300,000 a game for the Celtics in ’08-09 (about $25 million for the entire year). Thus, Garnett made more money in three games than the combined salaries of any WNBA team (11 players) for the entire 2009 season. This isn’t a knock on Garnett, not by any means (he does a lot in the community with his Foundation); it’s merely an illustration of the disparity in pay between the WNBA and NBA.
In spite of this, the vast majority of WNBA players continually make an unwavering priority to give back to the community; not because their absurd salaries forced them to or for tax benefits, but because they each have an indelible zeal for improving the world around them and because it’s the right thing to do.
If you’re thinking that I’m questioning the authenticity of some professional athletes in terms of their Foundations and personal focus on improving the community, well, you’d be correct. In fact, I very much question the genuineness of many athletes when they make an appearance at a Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters ,etc. and this comes from a first-hand perspective. I’ve worked for many years in both the non-profit world and the sports world and have been around a multitude of professional athletes and celebrities who unquestionably were forced to make an appearance somewhere or write a check with the sole purpose of enhancing their public image. And while, ultimately, the organizations still get funding and exposure, there simply is a different feeling and impact that is created when it comes from a sincere place. The fact remains, however, that we undoubtedly hear more about those events than any of the countless accomplishments in the community by WNBA athletes.
I, for one, think it’s about time we recognize, acknowledge, and honor what is being done in the community by WNBA players and the WNBA Cares program. WNBA Cares focuses on programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on promoting a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, breast health awareness, youth and family development, and education as well as team-sponsored community events. There are a countless number of players and team representatives that have volunteered their time and money for these special community events.
However, here are descriptions of several of the more notable non-profit organizations that have been developed by individual WNBA players. I encourage you to browse their Foundation’s website and get involved!
Kudos to the tireless efforts of these women.
Temeka Johnson, H.O.P.E. (Heaven Opens People’s Eyes)
Meek’s HOPE is active in the community in a number of ways and has made a key decision to help underprivileged children find hope and better their lives. She offers the Jewel Johnson Teacher Scholarship, in honor of her grandmother, to deserving students from Louisiana or attending Louisiana institutions. In addition, Meek’s HOPE has adopted schools to help with projects, mentoring, and fundraising. HOPE also sponsors area youth to receive personal hygiene makeovers for girls and boys, works with local schools and agencies to identify organizational needs, and hosts “A Very Meek Christmas” for local youth where HOPE and Temeka take them on a Christmas shopping spree.
Ketia Swanier – Ketia4Kidz
Ketia4Kidz provides support to the children of deployed and severely injured active duty military service members of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It also provides enrichment activities and tutoring to children while their parent(s) are away in service.
Tamika Catchings – Catch the Stars
Tamika’s mission is to motivate at-risk youth in the Indianapolis area to achieve their dreams and goals by providing positive academic and sports related programs. Largely centered on academics, the foundation also focuses on sportsmanship, healthier lifestyles, mentoring, and basketball/fitness clinics.
Swin Cash – Cash for Kids
Swin developed the Cash for Kids program to assist youth agencies and schools both inside and outside of the classroom in the areas of Arts & Culture, Youth Development, and Athletics.
Candice Wiggins – The Candice Wiggins Foundation Fund
The Candice Wiggins Foundation Fund honors the legacy of Alan Wiggins in its dedication to growing awareness, dialogue and funds to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Ruth Riley – NothingButNets
Ruth is a major player in this movement. Nothing But Nets is a grassroots campaign to save lives by preventing malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. Ruth has also been awarded the WNBA Community Assist Award for her dedication to community outreach initiatives related to youth health and wellness - particularly in her work for Nothing But Nets.
Betty Lennox – The Lennox Foundation 22
Betty Lennox’s Foundation centers around supporting kids in all communities that battle with the horrors of neglect and abuse. The money raised by The Lennox Foundation 22 will assist different shelters and homes to enrich their programs and educational needs for their communities.
Tamika Raymond – Thames River Family Programs, NothingButNets
Tamika worked with the Thames River Family Programs (TRFP), a transitional home for women and their children. In addition to her work with TRFP, Tamika was a regular participant and avid supporter of WNBA Cares events and causes, including Nothing But Nets and several visits to local schools, youth organizations, and fan events during the year.
Dawn Staley – Dawn Staley Foundation
The foundation’s mission is to create a future of hope for at-risk youth by providing opportunities that help them realize their dreams and become productive and responsible citizens. The creation and support of educational and sports programs which challenge minds, build character, and help youth to develop to their fullest potential academically, socially and physically are the essence of the foundation.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Now here we are again, Day 2 of the Temeka Johnson Weekend.
This day started with the school that I adopted last year: Magnolia Woods Elementary. We called this day the 2nd Annual Meek Day. As I arrived at the school I'm thinking to myself, after such a bad turnout with the other school, I was like "I know Magnolia is going to come through strong"... and guess what? Strong is not even the correct word. My visit there was so amazing, I didn't know what to say. The teachers were awesome, the kids that were there before as well as the new kids that were attending were great also.
My marketing team was surprised and excited about the school, as they should have been. It was their first time to the school, and they were very happy that I was involved with a school of such high class. They truly care about their students, their education and also their future. It was so awesome for me to be reminded, but for my team to see it for themselves firsthand. While there I got to read to the kindergartners. I read the book "The Little Red Hen Makes Pizza". It was so fun as the kids interacted and participated with me in reading the book. After reading to them, they sang me a song that they will be performing this upcoming Friday. I am not sure of the title, but I know the chorus is "I maybe small, but I ACT tall" LOL it was so fitting and so cute. I laughed really hard, but they performed it really well. I am trying to get a copy of that CD and maybe their performance to share with all of you. I promise that you will appreciate it just as much as I did. We also got a chance to show my Marketing team the projectory boards/smart boards that are being placed in classrooms. They were able to see what they actually do and how they work. The kids love them and the teacher enjoy teaching with them. They keep the students attention, they allow them to feel like learning is fun and I know I would have enjoyed it if it was there when I was in elementary school. It was such a great visit and I am looking forward to doing more stuff with them this year. In my opinion, there are many schools that can go to Magnolia Woods and learn how a school environment should be.
After leaving the school, I had a little down time so we went and ate at Waffle House, it was so good to see Mrs. Barbara who has been there a long time. She has always taken care of us and she hasn't forgotten us either. As she was taking our order everyone was thinking about what they may have wanted, she proceeds to tell me don't you worry I already know what you want. I smiled and said yes ma'am and she said the usual right I said you got it. My usual is a waffle with hash browns smothered, and some bacon with an orange juice. I haven't been back there in a long time, but that didn't matter, Mrs. Barbara still remembered.
That's the love you get in Tiger Town. From there I went over to an autograph signing at one of the best stores in Baton Rouge. The Lady Tiger Depot sells majority women's gear, but all of LSU stuff. The turnout wasn't what I thought it would be, but I was happy to get to see the people that did show and some were my middle school teachers. I wasn't complaining top bad, though.
From there I made my way to the celebration party that was put together for me at my Alma Mater. So many came out to support me and we all had a blast. Coach Starkey and the LSU staff and managers did a wonderful job. Everyone ate, mingled, talked, congratulated, reminisced, shared moments, and had fun. The food was great, the cake was amazing, the WNBA logo with the championship trophy on it was priceless. I was truly happy.
Coach Chancellor and Allison Hightower's tribute was so heartfelt and I truly appreciated it. I kept telling myself that I wasn't going to cry, but with something as special as that, I could not help but to cry. Then the video that was put together by Coach Starkey was so awesome, that I had no choice but to cry. To have this great feeling of being a champion and to be able to share it with all of my loved ones who have always been there for me..... ALL I CAN SAY IS WOW. The auction for the foundation went well, and everyone supported it. We raised close to $3,000 over the weekend, but most of all we had a blast....
I am working on getting that video so that I can share it with all of you as well. This has been a great weekend and tonight will be even better. I will celebrate with just friends and family tonight, but not before I go and watch my lady tigers practice.
Ok everyone that's all I have for you right now, but as soon as something else comes up you will be informed. (SMILES) talk to you soon
Friday, October 16, 2009
I have to start out by saying how blessed I am.
I have been on a natural high ever since we won the championship last Friday. WORLD CHAMPS - man it feels so great. Many of you already know that it was more about the things that occurred before me even getting to Phoenix.
It started in high school, getting close to the championship trophy, then the 2 Final Fours in college. Then, losing my college coach, the late great Sue Gunter, losing my grandmother,Jewel Johnson, etc. All off the bumps that I faced in the road was all worth it. The excitement has continued after leaving Phoenix with all of the celebrations, I came home to Kenner and Baton Rouge to celebrate as well. I'll start with Thursday.
This was the day of adopting my Grandmother's elementary school, an assembly at my high school, and a visit to Chateau Living Center. The start of it was really rocky and a little disappointing so I won't speak too much on that, I'll just say that I thought the elementary school would have been better prepared and would have done a much better job handling things, but I was wrong. So after being fairly disappointed we moved on over to my high school; now that was awesome.
They really showed me a lot of love back a Bonnabel High. The assembly was really nice - the students had some awesome questions, but most of all, the teachers that taught me were full of joy. I hugged, laughed, joked, talked, reminisced and everything while there. It was great. I also spoke with the new principal Mr. John Kulakowski who is trying his best to do some amazing things with the school. He is trying to get Bonnabel back to the way it was, back to a place an educational environment should be, and I really like the energy and enthusiasm that he is showcasing.
From there we went on over to the Chateau Living Center. The people there were adorable. They were having their live entertainment amongst themselves when we arrived. As I am walking through the door, a lady comes in behind us in her wheelchair. As I proceed to move to the side (out of her way), she says with a big smile on her face and a little raspy voice, "I just love you", as she reaches her hands out to me. "I have followed you your entire career at LSU and congratulations on winning the championship." I just smiled as I was completely stunned and caught off-guard, and I gave her a hug and said thank you. Ms. Estelle was definitely a fan not only of me, but for the Lady Tigers.
As we proceed to get further in, the entertainment is rocking. It was so good to see them with so much energy and so much enthusiasm, as they sang for their peers. It was so cute. As I mingled through the crowd, I was talked into dancing. LOL, yes dancing. So I stopped by a lady and asked if she wanted to dance, and she smiled big and said yes. My heart was just filled right then. As we danced on the floor, she begins to tell me that her parents as well as her brother were all dancers so it was something that she loved to do. She said she had been wanted to get up and dance, but she didn't want to look crazy dancing alone.
I was so happy that I choose to dance with her, and she was just as happy. I know they enjoyed my visit, but they don't realize how much fun I had and how much joy that brought to me in just the little time I was there. It was truly something special. Oh yeah, one other thing. I ran into Mrs. Benson, (her husband, Tom Benson, is the owner of the New Orleans Saints) as she was coming in to visit her mother that was inside. I had taken a picture with her earlier. I don't know them personally but I would like to thank them for keeping the Saints in New Orleans, it has brought so much joy back to a much needed city of New Orleans, and all of the people have embraced them.
That has capped the first day, and it was one that I will truly remember. I will fill you in about Friday, which was another beautiful day.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thats all I can say right now. I promise you it feels so surreal. I am beyond happy right now. I am not sure if there is enough words to describe how I am feeling. I have to first Thank the Good Lord up above for removing from what was a bad situation to a great one. I have had a huge turn around from last year. It was the hardest time of my life both on and off the court. I didn't know while going through it He was preparing me for something Great. He was molding me to become a Champion. I couldn't have asked for a better organization, and group of women to accomplish this with.
Jay Parry, Annie Meyers, Corey Gaines, and the coaching staff, and my teammates welcomed me with open arms when I first stepped foot in the locker room and it was smooth sailing from there. I love every last one of my teammates and it has surely been a blast. I want to thank everyone for all your support for me and my teammates throughout this entire season. Stay tuned for some more great things that I have ahead - you will love it. Thanks again.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
I wanted to drop in and say a few words to you. I know that my last couple of blogs have been a little short and brief, but that is only because we have been extremely busy trying to become The Western Conference Champions! I want to share with you what has been going on during that time. I am going to talk to you about GREATNESS and the people that I will mention definitely defines it.
First off is Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Man, what an amazing runner. I can remember watching her as child; she had me believing that I could beat everyone in the neighborhood in running. After watching her races I would go outside and just run - believing that I would be just as fast as her if I just ran all day. It didn't work - lol - but that's the impact that she had on people. Not long ago she was at the US Airways Center being honored. That's what I love about the WNBA - it is about recognizing great athletes, as well as people.
After our game, Mrs. Joyner-Kersee came into the locker room and spoke with us. She was so down to earth and actually a fan of what we do. It's so amazing to come in contact with people that you watched growing up be just as much of a fan of what you do as you were at what they did/done/or still doing. She has done so many things for women in general - her hard work, dedication, love for her sport, and many other things that helped break barriers for young girls coming up behind her. I can't say enough to express my gratitude. That was a really great night.
The next Great Person that I was blessed to meet was Muhammad Ali.
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" is what I remember (as well as "I'm Pretty"). "I'm Pretty" is another one of his sayings as he danced around the ring. He was addressing the media, and as he stood in front of our locker room a few nights ago, not as mobile as he once was, he was still PRETTY, PRETTY!! I know that he can still float like that butterfly and sting like that bee! He is still the great Muhammad Ali. He has done some great things for woman as well. He broke some barriers for African Americans, and he opened the eyes to people of all races, nationalities, and religions. I cant say enough about how great of a feeling it was to see him in person and to see the look on mine as well as my teammates faces when he graced us with his presence. It is a priceless moment, one that i will never forget.
There was something else that was going on with all this also. OH YEAH besides us clinching first place overall during regular season, we also became the 2009 WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS!!
This is another GREAT moment. I am still trying my best to put into words how excited I am about it and it still hasn't hit me yet. It is almost surreal but I can tell you that I love this feeling! I couldn't have asked to be with a better group of women. Hard working, fun, dedicated, etc, it's a joy. I am not taking anything away from my other teammates whom we were facing, because I truly love them and I am happy that I was able to play with them and get to know them. Winning the Western Conference has gotten me over that hump of just getting to that series. I love that.
I have to say that winning against LA did not have any extra motivation for me. Yes it is true, I was just in that uniform last year but the uniform that I am in now has given me a new opportunity, a fresh start, and a better chance. Rest assured that I couldn't have asked for a better group. The game a few days ago was Lisa Leslie-Lockwood's last WNBA game. She has retired; hung up her basketball shoes. She is arguably the best Center in the world and, believe me, those will be some pretty big shoes to fill. Lisa has done some great things in the game of basketball. She has Championships, Gold Medals, MVPs, All-Stars, Defensive Player of the Year awards to show for it. That speaks to her hard work, her dedication, and her determination to get better every year. She expanded her game every year and proved that she was a well rounded player. But I have to tell you that none of that tells you how great of a person she is. I had the honor of being her teammate for 3 years and I can tell you she showcased some phenomenal things. She showed that God was first in her life, she showed how caring, helpful, loving and supporting that she can be and was. Day in and day out she was there for you and her door was always open to you. She not only helped you on the court but she was also willing to help you in life. The WNBA is losing a great athlete, but the world outside of sports is gaining a wonderful person. I will miss Lisa very much and I will always love her for who she is and what she has done for me, my teammates and so many more to come.
OK I think that is enough for now! I will be back in touch with you all, and please know that we are not satisfied at all!! There is still more work to be done. Thank you for all of your love and support, as it would be impossible without you! You are truly our Sixth Man (congrats again to my girl, D.Bonner for winning that award this year!) and you are the BEST there is.
Until Next Time...
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
thanks for your support!!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
hey everybody!! it's been awhile since i talked to all of you, but i've kinda been busy.. something called the WNBA :) --
anyway, we secured the best record in the Western Conference!! we are Western Conference regular season champs!! it feels good.. my first year w/ the Phoenix Mercury and we have the best record! on top of that, after the game i celebrated my birthday w/ the team and the Mercury fans! it was a blast..
some people are saying that i had my best game, but i know i can play even better.. but that was a big victory against a great team.. the Mercury fans are the best!
please keep following me on Twitter (@Quickdeuce) and let others know too!
Monday, August 24, 2009
we're going to have media, students and community leaders at the event.. they'll get to meet me and watch the shoot-around, as well as enjoy the game in a Meek Mercury Suite!! i think they'll have hotdogs and soda (nothing too fancy)..
starting today, we are releasing a new foundation tshirt where all of the proceeds go to Night of HOPE and the foundation.. the 1st 100 tshirts bought will have it autographed.. the shirts are only $25, but the cause is great..
thank you all for the support and check out MeeksHOPE.org and Meek2.com for more details!!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
hey everyone!! the Special Forces poster is now available at my Meek's HOPE site! check it out.. there are only 10 signed posters left! thanks to everyone that has supported HOPE!
the posters are $20 for the unsigned 11x17 poster and $40 for the signed 11x17 poster!!
check them out here!
Monday, August 17, 2009
a special poster will be available for a $10 donation.. for those that would like to buy one for charity, please email HOPE@FuzionAM.com for more details.. We are going to have them for $15 (to cover shipping) available to everyone that cannot make it to the game..
we will also be having tshirts and rubber wristbands available (proceeds to HOPE) very soon.. be on the lookout!!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
What's up y'all.. We finished our long road trip with another victory.. 5 games? 4 victories? I can't be too mad at that.. Check the highlights here! Time to keep it going at home!!
Here's another article about us!! I know we can keep this going.. Keep cheering for us!!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I would love to make the All-Star game this year, and I need your votes and support.. I'm currently in 4th, but only a few hundred votes away.. This would be great for me..
Go here for more information!
To vote, go here! You can vote daily!!
Friday, June 26, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I know I haven't really been doing a lot of talking lately, but I have great reason for that. Things have been moving fairly quickly around here. We have been playing and practicing and practicing and playing, you all know how it goes. All in all it has been great so far. I am loving being apart of the Phoenix Mercury. So far we are 5-1 but most of all we are undefeated on our home floor. We do have to play Seattle before we head out on the road but I am looking forward to it being 6-0 at the house.
We have had some tough challenges that have come to the US AirWays Center. San Antonio, New York, Sacramento, Minnesota, and Los Angeles. They have all been great tests for us, but so far we have passed every last one of them. I have to say that the Minni game was fun, but I hated to see my former teammate get hurt. Seimone had been playing so well, as you all know she was being the Great Seimone Augustus and then some. To see her in pain was not good thing for me. We have accomplished a lot of good things together, and I am praying for a successful procedure and recovery for her.
Now on to the LA game - it was really a great win for us. Many believe that I was trying to play well due to the fact that LA was my team last year, but I honestly just wanted to win. I have said this before - once my time in LA was up, MY TIME WAS UP. It is about me and my new team the Phoenix Mercury. I was happy that I played well though, but not because it was LA, but because I have been working hard and I am glad that it is finally paying off. I know that I am where I am suppose to be and where the Lord wants me to be. My teammates have been great, the coaching staff is awesome, and the organization is very supportive and behind each player 100%.
I must say that I am in a great place mentally and physically. I have gotten my confidence back, I am in a comfortable situation, and I am so much more happier.
As you all know last year around this time I was in a very dark and unhappy place both on and off the court, but thank God - He has brought me out of that and I am now able to love what I do as well as be happy while doing it. I think this is and will be a special season for us so please continue to follow and support us; and know that I thank all of you that support me and was still supporting me through all of my struggling times. This is a great season and be prepared for more great things to come!!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I have talked about my teammates and how great they have been and it seems to get better everyday. Gotta love that. I am learning the system a lot faster than I thought, but trust me there is more for me to learn, but I am happy with the progress so far; and the coaches have been great. I am learning so much from the staff here, and Bridget Pettis is definitely one of the most helpful energetic people that I have met thus far. She keeps us laughing at all times. It doesnt matter the time of the day she will have that same energy and you will be laughing. She can also be serious and get her point across, though. Then its right back to putting a smile on your face.
We have finished up training camp and had some really good practice games against some of the other teams in the league that we were fortunate enough to win. We all learned more and more about each other and that is just going to continue to grow.
Now on to whats about to come up for us. NONE OTHER THAN THE FIRST HOME GAME. It is this saturday on the 6th of June against the San Antonio Silver Stars. I am so excited. Can you believe it, the season is here. It seems like just the other day we all were overseas. This will be an exciting season everyone, not for just one particular team ( although you know that I am all for the Mercury. LOL), but I mean across the entire league. I am sure that you all will not want to miss this season and what is about to happen. I know I cant wait and I cant even see it the way that you all get to see it. I love what I do and I am so happy that I am still blessed enough to compete like we do. I love the excitement that we bring to others, but most of all the Hope that we bring to sooooooooo many young women and some young men as well. I am getting chills just thinking about it.
Ok I am off now, I have to save some of this exciting energy for our Home opener again it will be on the this Saturday June the 6th come out and cheer us on. We would love to have you.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
We are finally finishing up training camp and I must tell you that it has been a joy. I know that you all must think that I am insane right now, LOL. But I am telling the truth. The hard work, the competition, the togetherness, the bonding etc. Couldn't ask for anything better.
Diana and Cappie are working extremely hard as usual, Tangela is doing her thing as well as showing DeWanner the ropes, Le'Coe is underestimated at times, especially in her running ability, Laurie just doesn't miss at all, LOL, Kelly M is working hard as well and knocking down shots, Nicole O, is making great strides, Shay Brooks is taking in all that she can everyday, Yuko, our Japanese pg, is running things as usual and having fun with all if us. Alley Q is a silent assassin that many sometimes sleep on but she is really playing well. Brooke Smith brings it every day.
I am adjusting and picking up things very fast. I am really liking the direction that things are going right now and I really think that this will be a very special year here in Phx. I am looking forward to it all. The coaching staff has been great, and the trainer Tamara Poole is awesome. She is really dedicated to her players and knows how important our bodies and health are.
Anyway like I mentioned before we are finishing up training camp and are now getting ready to head to Sacramento for a preseason game and then to Las Vegas and back here to play against Seattle. I cant wait. Each day and game allows us the opportunity to get even better connected with one another on the floor. I am smiling so big right now. Let's Go Merc. YAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
Talk to you all soon. Come on out and check us out this summer, you can start on June 6 for our home opener at 7 o'clock hope to see you all there.
Monday, May 18, 2009
I just want to let you know that my first week here has been awesome and we are just getting started. The people here were so welcoming, from the front office, to the coaching staff, my teammates, etc. I am honored to be here and looking forward to great things here with the Phoenix Mercury. I have been participating in some workout with some of the players, and just soaking up all that is thrown at me. The system seems like a perfect fit for me and I couldn't have asked for two better wing players in Diana and Cappi.
That is a point guard's dream to have someone to throw the ball to and you know that they are going to do something productive with it. And Tangela Smith puts the icing on the cake with what she brings. I could go on and on about the players but I think I will wait and save some of that for later. This is going to be an exciting year, I suggest those that are not already on board - jump on NOW. What are you waiting for? This is the Year for great things. See you all really soon.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
On Monday I went to Magnolia Woods again to address the students and the teachers. I just wanted to thank them for helping me help them. They couldn't have been any better. I have enjoyed every minute of it and I am looking forward to the Adopt-A-School Program to grow.
I thanked the teachers for all of their hard work that they put forth on a daily basis. With the lesson plans they prepare, with their patience with the students, with the teaching of the students with life lessons. It sometimes goes unnoticed and unappreciated. I tip my hat off to them for everything that they put forth. I encouraged the students to be the best that they can be and to work as hard as they can in the class rooms. I asked the honor roll students to continue on that road, and for the others that were not on the honor roll to strive to become an honor roll student or the best student that they can be.
I loved this adoption and I am looking forward to the future. I want to congratulate Mrs. Blakes the P.E. teacher for achieving the teacher of the year award. We (the H.O.P.E foundation) surprised her with a gift certificate to outback steak house for two, and a gift card for the movies for two. We all hope that she enjoy her time out she earned -- and believe me yall she deserves it!
I want to send out my deepest sympathy to the Principal of the school Principal Wallette (shown in picture w/ me) who lost her mother this past weekend unexpectedly. I know that it was and is a very difficult time to her so lets all keep her and her family in our prayers.
Thanks everyone that is all for now I am headed to Phoenix and I cant wait. Will be talking to you all soon.
Until next time...
Monday, May 4, 2009
On Thursday i went back to magnolia woods, and it was a bitter sweet day for me. As you all know Nike and I donated some shoes to the Honor Roll students at Magnolia Woods Elementary. This is the elementary school that I adopted through my foundation, MeeksHOPE.org.
Well I thought it would be good to have a follow up by having a meet and greet with the parents of the students that received the shoes. It didn't really turn out the way that I had hoped, but the few that were there were very happy and sincerely grateful. I had one lady who was there for her granddaughter whom she is raising (and you all know I am a product of being raised by my grandmother as well) so she and i connected from the start. She became very emotional and overwhelmed with tears of joy. This made my heart just smile. She went on to thank me again and from there we embraced one another. This is what it is all about taking time out of your schedule to put a smile on someone's face, giving so many hope. I love it. As people continued to walk around and the kids were making thank you cards, they were enjoying some delicious donuts from Mikey's Donut who donated 10 dozen. Thanks Mikey's.
Soon after i, began to speak to the parents. I just thanked them for coming and for caring for their kids future. I stressed the importance of the support starting at home and how the kids are our future. I told them that I just wanted them to know that there a lot of people that cared about their kids' education and future -- and I was one of them. I encouraged them to stay involved and continue to support and encourage their kids to be the best that they can be. It was an awesome feeling -- the response I got from the parents that were there and for the ones that weren't there i sent home some thank you cards. The principal and the teachers were ecstatic and so were the kids. I received a lot of nice cards. Everybody, this is what it is really all about.
Can't wait until the next event tomorrow!! I will keep you posted on that.
Until next time...