Just a note: This post has nothing to do with technology or education or anything else that I normally write about here. Instead, it’s about a unique experience my family and I had at a New York Liberty WNBA basketball game we caught last night at Madison Square Garden. This was a Mother’s Day present for my wife, who in her day was a high school All-American forward in Riverdale, Ga. But more importantly, it was a chance for my daughter Tess to get a first hand look at women playing competitive sports in front of thousands of screaming fans, something that is not very often seen in this world. It was a good, enjoyable game to watch, with some really outstanding play by both teams, the opposing coach getting thrown out of the game, and some great dancing by a troupe of young kids who performed between quarters.
But the best part was really unexpected. Last night, the Liberty decided to fete Theresa Witherspoon who before retiring a few years ago had been one of the WNBA’s best players and also the emotional spark to the team and, some would say, the sport. Her defining “moment” came in a last-second, half-court, utterly amazing shot that extended the league finals in 1999 and put the WBNA on the map. The halftime ceremonies last night were pretty cool in general, but I realized how important it was for Tess to see. A woman being honored in ways that are usually only reserved for men. A woman being cheered for and remembered not only for her play on the court but also for her work with kids off the court. A woman who was obviously very loved by the fans and teammates and coaches in attendance, who continually kept embracing her and slapping their hands together and just really reveling in the moment.
I consciously took some time to study my daughter during those festivities, and I saw a glow that I don’t think was just about being in New York City at a “real” basketball game in a big arena and all that goes with it. I think some of it at least was that she was surrounded by a whole bunch of women who were just exuding success and confidence, both on the court and in the stands. I think, I hope, it was a moment that helps her remember what is possible.
Oh, and by the way, it’s not lost on me how important this was for my son Tucker to see too. It’s not just about the boys. There are real women to look up to as well (aside from his mother, of course.)
Maybe this was about education after all…
Beautiful post. Brought tears to my eyes to read your observations of your son and daughter. What a wonderful role model you are for them and for us educators.
Chris Lehmann says
Just another data point here on the nifty-ness that is Theresa Witherspoon… (and it lets me put my girls basketball coach hat on again.)
In her playing days, she would often work out down at Basketball City. One September, Beacon had tryouts down there, and as we walk to our court, the girls spot Ms. Witherspoon working out. They, of course, all flip out and run away to our court where they stare and giggle and such.
So, me being me, I wander over to her court, wait for a break in her workout and tell her that I’m a high school coach with a group of girls who are currently flipping out over her. So she walks over to our court and talks to the girls about working hard and achieving dreams and such. She signs a few jerseys (including my center, Jessie’s, who was wearing a #11 Witherspoon jersey) and goes back to her workout.
She was totally gracious, kind and warm with the kids (and me), and although I was already a big fan, I became a *huge* fan that day.
(Oh… and I found out that one of those players from that day who is now a Division II player at Dowling College got to play one on one with Witherspoon last week in NYC at the new place she works out. Apparently, Ms. Witherspoon is as cool as she ever was. Denice had a *BLAST* playing against her.)
And when Tess is ready to learn the killer crossover and the drop-step, bring her down to Philly. 🙂
Chris Lehmann says
… although, if your wife was an All-American, Tess is probably better off just learning those moves in the driveway.
This is an inspiring post! You truly show how blogging allows the writer to “take a break” from the usual, while keeping abreast of the importance of life. Bloggers are GREAT observers!
you need to catch some New Zealand Netball. Really big women’s sport here. Get’s on national TV!
This is a wonderful post. I was at that game myself, and it was nice to see the Liberty win during a dismal season (they’re great when they play well). but the T-Spoon tribute was a highlight. I had a chance to meet her and schmooze a bit last winter at a women’s basketball event at Hunter College, and I found her to be so gracious and encouraging and enthusiastic. A real mensch, as we say in New York. She’s a fine person.
I’m so happy your children enjoyed themselves and learned things that they may not be able to articulate for a while, but you know that day will stick with them.
(BTW, the name is Weatherspoon. There’s another WNBA player named Sophia Witherspoon, #13, who played for the Liberty in the early years but ended up in LA.)