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How Allie Quigley found her place in the WNBA after nearly giving up

(Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Allie Quigley lifted the championship trophy in front of a packed arena in July after winning the 3-Point Contest during the WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas. The longtime Chicago Sky guard hit shot after shot from beyond the arc, making it look easy and effortless on her way to claiming the title for the third time.

Quigley’s success in the contest has become so automatic that players joked in Las Vegas that the league should name it after her.

“I’m just not surprised at all by her,” says Sky center Stefanie Dolson. “If she’s not making shots in a game, we’ll have a last-minute shot or a last-chance play to win a game, and we’ll still go to Allie. She is one of the greatest shooters. We always have the most confidence. So even during that 3-point contest, I was like, she’s still got it.”

In her 13th WNBA season, Quigley certainly still has it. Connecting on a career-high 45.4 percent of her 3-point shots during the regular season, she posed a constant scoring threat whether she started or came off the bench. She helped the Sky turn around their season after a 2-7 start to earn the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, where they’ll face the Dallas Wings in the first round Thursday.

It’s hard to imagine that a sharpshooter as calm and effective as Quigley struggled to get a foothold in the WNBA. But there was a time when the 35-year-old wondered if she’d ever find her place in the league, when she lacked confidence in her abilities.

In 2008, when the Seattle Storm drafted her in the second round out of DePaul, Quigley was so excited to hear her name called that she didn’t consider the next steps.

“I didn’t know too much about the team. Didn’t really know much about the coach or the process involved, either,” Quigley says. “You’re a little bit naïve to think, I’m drafted so I’m on the team. Then, the more you look at the roster and you get to camp, you realize, OK, I really have to make this team. And it’s looking like it’s going to be pretty hard to do that actually.”

Landing in the right situation means everything for a draft pick in a 12-team league where roster spots are limited. For Quigley, being in Seattle meant sitting behind veteran players who already had defined roles with the team.

During 2008 training camp, then Storm head coach Brian Agler had Quigley playing backup point guard. It was a position she wasn’t used to after a standout four-year career at DePaul, where she graduated as one of only four players to score 2,000 career points. But Quigley did her best to soak up professional basketball knowledge and be flexible while learning a whole new system in order to stick with the team.

It didn’t work. Just before the start of the season, the Storm waived Quigley. From there, she landed with the Phoenix Mercury as a free agent but was cut the next season. In 2010, she had brief stints with the San Antonio Stars and the Indiana Fever. She returned to Seattle in 2011, appearing in only seven games.

When Quigley showed up for Storm training camp in 2012, her mind was in Europe, where she’d found success playing in Hungary and in the EuroLeague.

“I was contemplating getting my Hungarian passport to play overseas for the year or to try and make the Storm roster,” Quigley says. “I was feeling good about my chances, but the passport was going to help me out with getting better basketball opportunities over in Europe.

“I talked to Brian about it, and he knew the European process and the league, and he said, ‘I think you need to get the passport and we’ll keep you in mind.’ Went and got the passport, was in Hungary for a month or two, and Seattle never called back.”

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Quigley shoots during the 3-Point Contest of the 2021 WNBA All-Star Game. (Jesse Louie/Just Women's Sports)

In 2012, as the WNBA season continued on without her, Quigley played basketball overseas. At the time, she was dealing with confidence issues and questioned whether she was good enough to play in the WNBA.

Quigley comes from a basketball family. She spent her childhood playing with her brothers and sister in the backyard or at the YMCA in their hometown of Joliet, Ill. They grew up loving the game. So it was hard for them to watch Quigley struggle when they knew how hard she was working.

“We Skyped a lot, just talked about like, what are some other things [she] could be doing?” says Quigley’s younger sister, Sam. “Coaches would sit her down and say, ‘You’re doing everything right, you had a great training camp, but we’re gonna cut you.’ And she was like, ‘Wait, I don’t understand.’

“I remember her saying that she sat down with Agler and just said, ‘Why? Can you just tell me why?’ And he gave her some truths and probably some pretty blunt answers of things she needed to improve on.”

While playing in Europe, Quigley focused on ball-handling, reading pick and rolls, learning how to score off the pick and knowing when to shoot or pass. The more experience she gained overseas, the more confident she felt. When she went up against players in the WNBA, she realized she could not only hold her own but flourish.

Others noticed her improvement, too. Pokey Chatman was the head coach of Russian basketball club Spartak during Quigley’s early years in the WNBA. Although her team never played against Quigley, Chatman kept a close eye on the guard. She liked what she saw in her and, as the head coach of the Chicago Sky by that time, she wanted Quigley on her team.

“I was watching her game evolve, not just watching the stats and highlights, and watching her compete and not just be a catch-and-shoot player,” Chatman says. “Her handles were getting better, everything. It was a no-brainer.”

For Chatman, seeing Quigley’s basketball evolution in real time was the difference. It also helped that there was a fit in the Sky’s system.

“I think some people hear that a player bounced around and think, oh, that’s never gonna work,” Chatman says. “I just saw this silent assassin-type mentality, like her emotions very seldom changed. She just knocked down shots. I always said, ‘If you can space the floor, you have a shot to have some success.’ And that was the initiating factor in it — adding someone who had some pro experience, a little bit of grit and a chip on her shoulder, like, ‘Sh—, this is my last go-round, I’m gonna make this happen.’

“And that was the beginning of Allie having a beautiful impact on the Sky program.”

Quigley spent her first season with the Sky on the bench. She averaged only 9.4 minutes per game in 2013 but tried to make an impact whenever she got on the floor. Chatman was still feeling her out as a player at the time, but told her she’d have a bigger role the following season.

In 2014, Quigley’s minutes jumped up to 24.8 per game. She took full advantage, averaging 11.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game on 47.2 percent shooting from the field and earning the Sixth Woman of Year award. In 2015, she repeated the same production off the bench and won the award again.

Her career hasn’t waned since.

Quigley became a full-time starter in 2017 and was voted to her first All-Star Game. Now in her ninth year with the Sky, she’s one of the best 3-point shooters in the history of the league, ranking fifth all-time with a 39.9 3-point percentage.

Quigley’s career renaissance started and very well may end in Chicago. Looking back on her time in Europe, Chatman giving her an opportunity, winning back-to-back Sixth Woman of the Year awards — even her marriage to Sky teammate Courtney Vandersloot — Quigley can’t help but think it was destined.

“Just having been with different teams before that and thinking about giving it up, just to have that chance to be in Chicago and have my family be at every single game, it was perfect,” she says. “It was meant to be, to know that the previous five, six years of struggles were kind of worth it.”

Those who know Quigley best always believed her WNBA career would pan out.

“We weren’t surprised because of all the success she had growing up. I mean, she was phenomenal in many sports,” Sam says. “For us, it was like, we’re not surprised that Allie did this. What we’re most surprised about is her transformation as a person and as a woman. She’s become a professional.”

“Allie probably knew at some point, ‘I’m a great shooter. It doesn’t matter what else I can or can’t do on the court. I’m really good at shooting and people are gonna need that,’” Dolson adds. “And I’m just glad that Chicago took that chance on her and really committed to her being on the team and has stuck with her for so long.”

Chatman will always revel in the memory of helping bring Quigley back to the WNBA, and she couldn’t be more proud of the player Quigley has become.

“She deserves it because she’s put in the work. And it’s not just the shooting anymore. That’s what I want people to highlight — she’s not just catch and shoot,” Chatman says. “Of course, she’s a laser. We called her ‘laser.’ But it’s just the evolution of her game to positively impact it in different areas of offensive play. I think it was timing, environment. She just rocked it, and I’m glad she did.”

As the Sky head into the playoffs, Quigley is calm and confident. The days of questioning her skill and place in the WNBA are a distant memory. These days, she has the same belief in herself and her basketball abilities as she does in her teammates.

“We’ve beaten almost every team ahead of us so far. Especially the top three teams,” Quigley says. “So I think we just need to use that confidence, to know that we can do anything.”

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering the WNBA. She also contributes to The Athletic and is the co-author of Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League. Follow Lyndsey on Twitter @darcangel21.

Barcelona to Face Lyon in Champions League Rematch This Weekend

UEFA Women's Champions League Final"Barcelona FC - Olympique Lyonnais"
Saturday's game will be the third UWCL final meeting for Barcelona and Lyon, having previously gone up against each other in 2019 and 2022. (ANP via Getty Images)

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off in Bilbao on Saturday, with a couple of familiar foes set to face off for the trophy.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, making its 11th final appearance since 2010, will go head to head with a Barcelona side making its fourth final appearance in a row.

This will be the third time these two teams meet in the UWCL title game, having previously appeared in the 2019 and 2022 finals. Lyon won both of those prior games against Barcelona, alongside a total of eight Champions League trophies. That’s double that of any other club, with Eintracht Frankfurt coming in a distant second with four. 

Should Barcelona win, this would be the team's third title — breaking a tie for the third in the UWCL total titles race. 

But as these teams return to the UWCL final, it also marks the end of an era for both clubs. The game will be the last for both club managers, as Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor depart for new jobs after the season's end.

Giráldez is set to leave for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, while Bompastor will take over for incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Both coaches have earned one UWCL trophy during their tenures, while Bompastor also brought two Champions League trophies to Lyon as a player. She was the first coach to win a UWCL trophy as both a coach and player.

This season, Barcelona is looking for its first quadruple, having won a fifth Liga F title alongside the Copa de La Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

"We hope he can go out with the four trophies because we know how competitive and ambitious he is," Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told ESPN. "It has been a winning era with him in charge and for him to go out with all four trophies would be historic and incredible."

But Lyon's Damaris Egurrola is excited about her team's chances of overcoming Barcelona once again — and to do it in front of family and friends.

"Lyon have something special," she told Forbes ahead of the weekend's final. "We have a great team and we have the players with enough talent to win any match."

The game will be a homecoming for Egurrola, who began her professional career with Athletic Bilbao.

"I’ve been thinking of this day and night," she said. "I’ve been dreaming of playing this match. Having the opportunity to play in San Mames is amazing. This is where it all started for me."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off Saturday, May 25th at 12 PM ET and is free to stream on DAZN.

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek Headlines a Stacked 2024 French Open

Iga Swiatek serves against Coco Gauff during the group stage of the 2023 WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico
Iga Swiatek serves against Coco Gauff during the group stage of the 2023 WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico. (Robert Prange/Getty Images)

The 2024 French Open starts on Sunday, with a match schedule that promises to wrap the short clay court season up in style.

Looking for her fourth title at the major is three-time Roland Garros champion and World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, considered the favorite to win the whole Slam. Three of her four major titles have come at the French tournament. 

Swiatek's career record at the French Open is a dominating 28-2, and she's currently on a 16-game winning streak fueled by victories at tune-up tournaments in Madrid and Rome.

But that doesn't mean she won't face some serious challengers along the way. Get to know some of the Polish tennis champ's strongest competitors.

Aryna Sabalenka

Sabalenka is ranked No. 2 in the world and faced Swiatek in the finals at both Madrid and Rome. She lost in three sets in Madrid, which included a close third-set tiebreak, before losing in straight sets at the Italian Open. 

She enters the French Open having won the Australian Open in January, successfully defending her title in the first Slam of the season. At last year’s French Open, Sabalenka reached the semifinals — a career best — before being ousted by Karolina Muchová in three sets.

Season record: 25-7

Coco Gauff

Currently sitting at No. 3 in the world, the highest-ranked American on the schedule is none other than Coco Gauff. Gauff won her first major at the US Open last year, and reached the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open. She faced Swiatek in the semifinals of the Italian Open last week, losing in straight sets. 

But her first major final came at the French Open in 2022, before being ousted by Swiatek in the quarterfinals at last year’s French Open. The two are on a crash course for a meeting before the finals, as Gauff anchors the other quadrant on Swiatek’s side of the draw, should they both advance deep into the competition.

Season record: 25-8

Chicago Sky Upset New York to End Liberty’s Unbeaten Streak

chicago sky's angel reese on the court against new york liberty
Angel Reese registered a near double-double against a strong Liberty side. (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Liberty’s unbeaten streak came to an end on Thursday as Angel Reese and the Chicago Sky got the upset win over New York with a final score of 90-81. 

Angel Reese stood out with a near double-double, registering 13 points and nine rebounds. She’s currently the only rookie this season to exceed 10 points in her first three games, and the first player in Sky history to begin their career with three consecutive double-digit scoring games, per ESPN Stats & Info.

The outcome may not have come as a surprise to Liberty stars Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, who sung Reese’s praises ahead of the game.

"She’s a workhorse," Stewart told The Post. "She doesn’t stop. She’s tough, she’s strong, she’s tough to box out and good at cleaning up for her team offensively and defensively."

"I feel like she’s an energizer bunny," Jones added. "She doesn’t stop moving, she doesn’t stop crashing the boards. Just someone that is gonna be relentless in her approach to getting to the glass and playing tough."

It was the first time Chicago has met New York this season. The game was especially meaningful for new Chicago head coach Teresa Weatherspoon, who led the Liberty for seven years as a player and joined the team's Ring of Honor in 2011.

"This place means a lot to me... I played in that jersey, I adored that jersey, I adored every player that I had an opportunity to play with. The love that I received even today was overwhelming," Weatherspoon reflected after the game.

Following the win, Sky guard Dana Evans had some kind words for her coach.

"I mean, it's just special. She's special," Evans said. "She just breeds confidence in each and every one of us. We love her. We just wanted to go so hard and play hard for her, and I feel like this one was really for her. We really wanted this for her more than anything."

Thursday's victory brings Chicago's record to 2-1, a somewhat unlikely feat given that their offseason featured starter Kahleah Copper getting traded to Phoenix. The Connecticut Sun are now the only undefeated team left in the league this season, and will formidable foes for the Sky as they take their winning streak on the road to Chicago this weekend.

New USWNT Coach Emma Hayes Embracing the Challenge

United States Women's Head Coach Emma Hayes
The ex-Chelsea skipper has officially arrived in the US — now it's time to get down to business. (USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Emma Hayes has officially begun her tenure as USWNT manager ahead of the team’s June friendlies.

Hayes made the rounds on Thursday, appearing on the Today Show and speaking with select media about her goals and underlying principles with the team. It’s a quick turnaround for the decorated coach, who just won the WSL with Chelsea last weekend.

One thing that she won’t do, however, is shy away from the high expectations that come with managing the US. The squad is looking to reinstate its winning reputation at the Paris Olympics this summer following a disappointing World Cup in 2023. 

"I know the challenge ahead of me. There is no denying there is a gap between the US and the rest of the world," she told ESPN. "We have to acknowledge that winning at the highest level isn't what it was 10 years ago. It's a completely different landscape. And my focus is going to be on getting the performances required to play at a high level against the very best nations in the world."

While Hayes was formally hired six months ago to lead the USWNT, her deal stipulated that she remain with Chelsea through the conclusion of their season. In her stead, Twila Kilgore has led the team, with the coach "drip feeding subliminal messages" to the roster on Hayes’s behalf.

"It's a bit ass-upwards," Hayes joked to reporters. "I know about the staff, and the team, and the structure behind it. We got all of that. Now it's time, I need to be with the team."

With Olympics now just two months away, Hayes dropped hints this week regarding her thought process behind building the roster, saying there’s still time for players to make their case.

"You can't go to an Olympics with a completely inexperienced squad. We need our experienced players, but getting that composition right, that's my job between now and June 16th," she said on the Today Show.

"What I can say from my time [in the US] is, I've always loved the attitude towards performance and the expectation to give everything you've got," she later affirmed to reporters.

And as for winning gold?

"I'm never gonna tell anyone to not dream about winning," she added. "But… we have to go step by step, and focus on all the little processes that need to happen so we can perform at our best level.

"I will give it absolutely everything I've got to make sure I uphold the traditions of this team."

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