2001-2002 Miami Sol
2003-2006 Detroit Shock
2007-2011 San Antonio Silver Stars
2012 Chicago Sky
2013 Atlanta Dream
As the fifth pick in the draft, this country girl finds herself going from South Bend, IN to South Beach, FL. Since I was raised in a very accepting, open-minded home, I embraced the opportunity to experience a different culture and I was ready for a change. After finishing my college career on the top, I once again find myself struggling with the transition to the professional ranks. Miami proved to be the perfect place for me. My coach, Ron Rothstein, was a old-school NBA coach who taught me a lot about the game on a professional level.
In the world of professional athletics, you have to be ready for the unexpected. After spending my entire off-season in Miami training with our coaches, and truly ready to have a break out year, I broke my pinkie finger in 5 places the day before our first game and found myself out for 4 weeks. Prior to that, I had never missed a game due to an injury, and it was definitely a life lesson for me. That whole season proved to be a trying experience, as I lost my starting spot and never regained my confidence back.
Since the WNBA is only 5 months long, it makes for a long off-season. I followed the footsteps of many women before me, and headed overseas to play in Valencia, Spain. It was just the solution for me. Not only was I able to work through some of my issues on the court, I had the opportunity to experience a different country and culture. It was during that time that I found out our team in Miami folded and a few months later I received a called from Coach Laimbeer telling me that he was going to pick me 1st in the dispersal draft.
From the beginning of the season, we knew that we had something special in Detroit. We were a young, unselfish team that was very hungry and determined to win. Being a part of one of the greatest turn-around in sports history was an amazing experience. Seeing 23,000 fans in the Palace during the championship game was a memory I will never forget. Winning the MVP of the Finals was an unexpected honor, due to the talent on our team, but it just shows another area in which I have been blessed in my life.
The following two seasons taught me that talent alone does not win games–we had the same team, the same talent, but we struggled putting the pieces together. The 2004-2005 seasons proved to be disappointing, there were moments of brilliance tangled with stupidity and a lack of a team effort. These two years made me realize that you never take success for granted and must always seize the moment of opportunity because you never know if or when you will be on top again.
Championship number two, 2006, was a unique combination of success and personal adversity. I learned a lot about myself this season. As my shooting percentage began to decrease, the first battle was to stay confident. The second challenge was finding other ways to contribute (setting screens, rebounding, defending, ect.) The third battle was maintaining mental toughness amidst adversity: I received more criticism about my game this season that ever before. This was truly the season of humility and perseverance!
After 2 championships in 4 years, I find myself being traded to the San Antonio Silver Stars. This transaction was bittersweet for me. Although I cherished my memories of Detroit, I looked forward with anticipation of what I thought we could do in San Antonio. The 2007 season was another unique experience, at the beginning of the season I found out that I had a partial tear in my left achilles. I have always been a player who gained confidence by constantly being in the gym working on my game. Although I was able to compete in almost all of the games, I was unable to spend much time on the court in or out of practice. This season taught me to rely on my experience: my mental preparation replaced the role that physical preparation played for me in the past. Our season ended with a heartbreaking loss in the Western Conference Finals to Phoenix.
With the addition of Ann Wauters and the emergence of Sophia Young as a prime time player, the 2008 season proved to be a historic year for our franchise. Finishing 24-10, with the best overall record in the league, was good enough to secure home court advantage for us throughout the play-offs. The Western Conference Finals was an epic battle vs. the L.A. Sparks. Sophia Young hit the buzzer beater in game 2 to force a third and decisive game that gave our team its first ever trip to the WNBA Finals. The irony was not lost on me, as our opponent was none other than my former team, the Detroit Shock. The combination of their experience and our injury-filled roster proved to be too much for us, as we went on to lose in three games. I found myself with mixed emotions for our team and personally. Grateful for the opportunity to help our franchise reach a level of success that it had never previously experienced was most definitely rewarding, but then coming so close to our ultimate goal and falling short, one could not help but feel like something was missing.
In professional sports there is always a battle between team and self. There is an innate desire to perform to the best of your individual ability and then there is also a desire perform in a way that your team will be the most successful. Sometimes these two go hand in hand, but often times a sacrifice will be made in one direction or another. As a player that has adapted to different roles throughout my career, the 2008-2009 seasons were learning experiences for me. I lost my starting position, yet embraced the talented addition to our team. I played through injury, doing what I could to help the team, yet could not escape the frustration stemming from not playing up to my potential. At the end of the day, I will always sacrifice my personal goals for the good of the team, but finding a balance as close to accomplishing both has been an interesting journey.
Our 2009 season could be described in three words: inconsistent yet persevering. I have come to learn that most teams who experience a high level of success will more often than not experience a let down the following year. There is something unique that drives a team to a level of greatness they have never experienced before and once this is attained they can still be driven, competitive, and utilize their experience . . . but they will never again be motivated by this initial force of amateur passion. Although as a team we did not play up to our potential all the time, we managed to find a way to persevere and qualify for the play-offs. Phoenix proved to be an unstoppable opponent, as they beat us in the first round of the Western Conference Play-offs to eventually win the WNBA title.