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Playa Society’s WNBA Black History Month shirt carries special meaning

Esther Wallace, Founder and Designer of Playa Society, models the new Black History Month-inspired T-shirt. (Courtesy of Playa Society)

Playa Society, as part of its ongoing collaboration with the WNBA, has dropped a special edition T-Shirt celebrating Black History Month.

The shirt features a design that reads “WNBA Black History Every Game” and is available for purchase on Playa Society’s website.

“The thing about Black History Month is that it should never be reduced to just one month in general, and that’s never the approach that I would take to designing anything for Black History Month,” Esther Wallace, Founder and Designer of Playa Society, tells Just Women’s Sports.

For Wallace, a former Division I and professional basketball player, the February collaboration is a chance for her to honor and applaud the athletes of the WNBA.

“Eighty percent of the players are Black women,” she says. “That’s something we want to talk about and celebrate all the time because it’s so important for girls like me to see that representation and, even beyond that, for just the world in general to see that and to celebrate it.

“That’s really to me what the WNBA represents. Every single time that I watch a WNBA game, I feel like in so many different ways and so many little ways and sometimes in big ways, the players on the court are contributing to the progression of Black women, of the Black community, of women’s sports.”

WNBA players have been an integral part of Wallace’s success as a designer, supporting her before Playa Society officially launched. Wallace’s Female Athlete” collection quickly took off in 2018, thanks in large part to players like Elena Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles, Candace Parker and Sue Bird wearing the T-shirt from the beginning.

The graphic tee features the phrase with a line drawn through the world “Female.” Wallace’s own experience playing basketball at Fairleigh Dickinson and overseas inspired her to create a product dedicated to equality for women in sports.

“Every player who represented the brand early made a huge difference because honestly, as a solo entrepreneur starting out on a new venture in a space that is not well-supported, as a Black woman entrepreneur, we often don’t receive the support and resources that we need,” she says. “So any support that I got from WNBA players and professional athletes meant the world to me.”

The encouragement Wallace received from WNBA stars helped her push through the challenges of early entrepreneurship and gave her the confidence to build Playa Society around the success of the “Female Athlete” shirt.

“There were times when I had conversations with myself internally, like, ‘Candace Parker believes in this. You have to keep going,'” she says.

Wallace is now hoping to pay that support forward, using her latest collaboration to give back to other creators and entrepreneurs.

A percentage of proceeds from the “WNBA Black History Every Game” T-shirt will be donated to Black Girl Ventures, an organization that provides Black and Brown woman-identifying founders with access to the resources needed to build their businesses.

“As a Black woman entrepreneur, supporting Black women-owned businesses and ventures is really important to me,” Wallace says. “It’s full circle to be able to deliver this specific project that shines a light on Black players in the league, while also paying it forward to uplift other Black women in business.”

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(Courtesy of Playa Society)

While Wallace says the WNBA’s influence is still untapped in many ways, the athletes of the league have become prominent cultural figures and fashion icons.

Liz Cambage, Arike Ogunbowale, Diamond DeShields and Kahleah Copper are just a few players currently on Wallace’s mood board. Wallace is not alone in her reverence for the athletes’ style, with their pregame looks making a splash on social media and underscoring their uniqueness and effortless swagger, qualities innate to the WNBA.

“The thing about fashion and style is that it such a form of self-expression, and I feel like for a group of women that aren’t often heard, they’re using that as just their form of communicating and expressing themselves,” Wallace says. “I think that is so dope for them to be able to use fashion in that way.”

Wallace is building Playa Society into another avenue for fashion and women’s sports to intersect, with WNBA athletes leading the way.

“What I want to do with Playa Society is to be able to iconize them,” she says.

Clare Brennan is an associate editor at Just Women’s Sports.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Crypto.com Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a Change.org petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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