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Seimone Augustus, Kate Fagan bring women’s hoops lore to life in new book

Diana Taurasi and Seimone Augustus, depicted here in 2007, have an iconic interaction featured in the book. (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

When readers get their hands on the new book basketball legend Seimone Augustus and longtime sports journalist Kate Fagan are creating, they will open it to find a colorful encyclopedia of sorts about the world of women’s basketball and pop culture.

“Hoop Muses,” the title credited to Augustus and anticipated to release in Spring 2023, will be a compilation of mini chapters with subjects ranging from landmark historic events, like the first intercollegiate women’s game ever played, to infamous moments of lore, like when Diana Taurasi kissed Augustus on the cheek during a heated play in a WNBA game.

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(Illustration by Sophia Chang)

As our society slowly wakes from the coma of defining sports as male, there are massive gaps to be filled in telling the stories of women’s sports. Augustus and Fagan (and their publishers at Twelve) are motivated to fill that gap with “Hoop Muses” in a way that is fun and exciting, and that is a true representation of the joy and drama athletes and fans feel in their love for the game.

In a recent interview with Just Women’s Sports about the book, Fagan put it simply, “We don’t want it to feel like a dissertation on Title IX.”

With Fagan doing the writing and Augustus curating the content, they needed a stellar illustrator to complete the team and were beyond pleased to bring artist Sophia Chang on board. A talented and young multimedia designer, Chang has made a name for herself in the streetwear and sneaker industries.

“She gave you that feel, she gave you that funk that you were expecting,” Augustus says of the artist. “To tell the stories on the inside, you actually have to have that visual effect to really have that profound feeling of intensity of the story and of the movements you’re reading about.”

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(Illustration by Sophia Chang)

An illustrated medium also allows Augustus and Fagan the freedom to get creative in not only telling the real-life stories of the game, but also re-imagining history and what it could have been. Like the forthcoming chapter where they recreate an iconic SLAM Magazine cover to feature Chamique Holdsclaw alongside the words “She Got Game.” Or the planned (W)NBA Jam chapter, where they bring to life the “top 10 dynamic duos that would have ruled the ’90s.”

“We want to build out cool, not anachronistic, but almost multiverse-level stuff. Like in a different world, here’s what NBA Jam would’ve looked like and here’s who you would have played,” Fagan explains. “Things that should have existed but didn’t. We want to build out that world, too.”

With the increased attention the WNBA garnered during its 2020 Wubble season, primarily due to the social activism and magnetism of the players, Augustus and Fagan feel the timing of their vision for this book is right on track with the demand from fans.

“It was becoming so clear over the last few years how many ways we’ve celebrated, mythologized, told the history of, created cultural value around men’s sports,” Fagan says. “We know the current logo of so many men’s teams and we know the previous seven logos. And we can trace the iteration of how the 1890s New York Yankees became the current New York Yankees. Women’s sports has never had that. Mythologizing women in sports is a crucial piece of building the cultural value around the game. We want this book to fill that gap.”

For Augustus, who lives by the “learn something new every day” adage, the opportunity to help educate current generations about those who paved the way has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the project.

“When you start reaching back in time and finding those moments where women had to go through certain things or certain eras for us to get here, it’s a beautiful thing to see,” Augustus says. “We want to give those players their flowers for what they’ve done to help us get where we’re going.”

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Cheryl Miller (Illustration by Sophia Chang)

While Fagan is a seasoned author of several books, including the national bestseller “What Made Maddy Run,” this is Augustus’ first foray into the world of publishing. When she decided to retire from professional basketball and transition into an assistant coaching role for the Los Angeles Sparks just before the start of the 2021 season last May, the move was more sudden than she (and many of her fans) expected. Now, getting this experience in the world of publishing may be a stepping stone to writing her own book eventually.

“It kind of helps me put together a bigger idea of, if I were to put out a book of my own personal life at some point of basketball, what would that be like? But it’s all about having a great team,” Augustus says.

Fagan herself has recently chosen a new team. After many years at ESPN, she left the sports media conglomerate to care for her father in the final months of his life. Reflecting upon her career during that time, Fagan realized that although ESPN was a great experience for her in so many ways, she wanted more. She wanted her presence and content to be a more complete picture of who she is and what women’s sports are like.

“At ESPN, you’re so boxed in,” she recalls. “It’s hard to be funny. It’s hard to avoid being the person who just comes in when there’s a domestic violence claim in football. People start to see you in only one way.”

Now with Meadowlark Media, Fagan has teamed up with producer and co-host Jessica Smetana to create the extremely entertaining podcast “Off the Looking Glass.” She credits “Hoop Muses” with igniting many of the ideas and stories they cover on the pod. With both projects, Fagan has been able to incorporate much more of her natural humor and joy into what she wants to say about sports and society.

“You can try to get your point across for decades in a really earnest way, like, ‘You should care about this! Look at what those dudes are saying! Isn’t that ridiculous!’ And people don’t get it. Then you write a [comedy] sketch about it and you just let them come to their own conclusions,” she says. “It’s a different way to try to get the same point across. And I don’t think it has been one that has really been used very often in trying to explain the world of media and sports and women.”

Similarly, you can write a dissertation on Title IX and explain all the reasons women’s sports are important, fun, entertaining and valuable for an endless number of pages. Or you can put together a trio of one passionate basketball legend, one charismatic writer, and one cutting-edge artist, and show the world what it’s been missing.

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Pat Summitt (Illustration by Sophia Chang)

Tessa Nichols is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports.

2023 MVP Breanna Stewart Drops 31 Points in Liberty’s Huge Win Over Fever

breanna stewart and jonquel jones of the new york liberty celebrate win over indiana fever
Stewie and the Liberty dominated the court throughout Thursday's Fever home opener. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty dominated Indiana on Thursday night, winning by a whopping 36 points in the Fever's home opener. 

A sold-out crowd of 17,274 was in attendance to watch as star rookie Caitlin Clark finished the 102-66 defeat with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It’s the first time since January 2021 — her freshman season at Iowa — that Clark's been held to single-digit scoring. 

"The physicality is definitely up there... I'm easily pushed off screens," she told reporters after the loss. "The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop."

The Fever were outscored by a combined margin of 57 points in their first two games — the largest two-game point deficit in WNBA season-opening history, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

"We've got to get to a level of toughness," Fever coach Christie Sides in her own postgame remarks. "When things are going south on us, we're not stopping the bleeding."

"I have great perspective on everything that happens," Clark added. "It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball."

Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who herself experienced a rocky rookie season following a much-hyped college career, offered up some insight on the matter.

"In this league, there are tough defenses all centered around not letting you get the ball, trapping, not letting you score," Ionescu said. "There were many factors that played into what was a tough first season for me in the league, but it helps you be able to figure it out. You have to have those experiences."

But it was reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart that truly stole the show, racking up 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks on the night.

"In general, I just wanted to come out more aggressive coming off of last game," Stewart said after putting up the 24th 30-point game in her career.

Stewart she also commended the fans inside Indianapolis's packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, noting that she hopes that level of support to continue across the WNBA.

"This is how you want every game to be and when it's a sell-out crowd, it gives you a similar playoff atmosphere feel," she said. "People want to be a part of this and the thing now is to continue to sustain it, continue to take the momentum that we have and turn it into something more."

WNBA Commissioner Admits to ‘Faulty’ Charter Rollout

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert at 2024 wnba draft
Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft in New York. (Cora Veltman/Sportico via Getty Images)

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert admitted to a "faulty rollout" of the new charter travel initiative on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Ahead of Tuesday's season opener, it was announced that the only teams flying private this week would be Indiana and Minnesota. The announcement came mere days after the league made a new charter flight program for all WNBA teams public. At the time, they said it would be implemented "as soon as we have the planes."

But as two teams out of 12 chartered to their first games of the season, others like the Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky were forced to fly commercial.

A town hall meeting between Engelbert and the players was held in response to the confusion. Everything from the league's new media rights deal to private travel was covered in the meeting, with players submitting their questions ahead of time. Sky center Elizabeth Williams told Sun-Times reporter Annie Costabile afterwards that cross-country flights were prioritized.

"Flights that are across the country like [the Lynx] going to Seattle, crossing multiple time zones, or flights that usually require a connection, those were the priorities," Williams said. "That’s why New York didn’t go to DC with a charter, but Minny goes to Seattle."

What’s unclear under that metric is that the Atlanta Dream played the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, which could technically be classified as a cross-country flight. 

On Tuesday, rookie forward Angel Reese shared a photo on her Instagram story lamenting the league's use of commercial flights.

"Just praying that this is one of the last commercial flights the Sky has to fly," Reese posted. The team still has at least three commercial flights awaiting them in the near future.

"Obviously, I think all teams should be able to get chartered," Reese told the Sun-Times. "But I know moving forward... going in the right direction, being able to have some teams [chartering] is cool. Within the next weeks, everybody will be flying charter, which will be really good."

On Thursday, Lindsay Schnell of USAToday Sports confirmed that the league intends to have all teams on charter flights by May 21st.

Brazil Wins Bid for 2027 Women’s World Cup Host

fifa womens world cup trophy on display
The FIFA Women's World Cup trophy on display in Bangkok after Brazil was announced as the 2027 host country. (Thananuwat Srirasant - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Brazil has been named the host for the 2027 Women’s World Cup, with FIFA announced early Friday. 

The decision came after a vote at the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, with Brazil earning 119 votes to the joint European bid’s 78. 

This will be Brazil’s first time hosting the Women’s World Cup, with the country having hosted the men’s World Cup twice before in 1950 and 2014. It will also be the first Women’s World Cup held in South America. The tournament will follow the same 32-team format as the 2023 WWC in Australia and New Zealand.

Brazil winning the bid was not entirely surprising after FIFA issued a report just last week, stating that the Brazilian bid had pulled ahead as host following technical inspection. After evaluation, Brazil was given a score of 4.0 out of 5, compared to the 3.7 awarded to the Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Brazil ranked higher in a number of key areas, including stadiums, accommodations, fan zones, and transport infrastructure. Though considered to be a frontrunner, the US and Mexico withdrew their joint bid prior to the technical inspection period, saying they would instead focus their efforts on 2031.

On Friday, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues called it a "victory." 

"We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women's soccer and for women," he told reporters. "You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women."

"We are working on a transformation, not only for the country but for the continent," added bid team operational manager Valesca Araujo.

Brazil intends to use 10 of the venues utilized at the 2014 men’s World Cup, including holding the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 25th. The CBF's proposal outlines that the 2027 tournament run from June 24th through the end of July. Last summer’s World Cup began at the end of July and concluded on August 19th.

Another notable element of Brazil's newly unveiled plan to grow of the women’s game is that "all [men’s] clubs wishing to take part in high-level national and continental competitions must now provide a structure for a women’s team." While the definition of "structure" was not specifically identified, the country has set targets with CONMEBOL to help increase the number of women’s club teams in the country.

In last week's inspection findings, FIFA noted that selecting Brazil as the next WWC host could "have a tremendous impact on women's football in the region."

Chelsea Eyes Weekend Finale With WSL Title in Sight

chelsea players celebrate win against tottenham in the wsl
Chelsea beat Tottenham on Wednesday, moving to the top of the table in an effort to win departing coach Emma Hayes some silverware. (John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Chelsea did what they needed to do on Wednesday in order to make Saturday's slate of season-ending WSL fixtures interesting: Beat Tottenham.

The Blues are now number one in the league, with an edge over Manchester City on goal differential thanks to an eight-goal outing against Bristol City last week. 

Yesterday's result tees up a league finale for the books as Chelsea looks to send coach Emma Hayes off with another trophy to add to her cabinet. The Blues will play FA Cup winner Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday, while City is away at Aston Villa.

"We will be leaving nothing on the pitch, we will be giving everything and no matter what the result is," Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert said after Wednesday's win. "At least we can look each other in the eye and say we gave everything."

It makes for a thrilling end to Chelsea's Emma Hayes era, as the decorated WSL coach will take over the USWNT in June. And it comes after Hayes all but conceded the title race early this month after Chelsea fell to Liverpool 4-3.

"I think the title is done," Hayes said at the time. "Of course, mathematically, it's not, but I think the title is done. Our job between now and the end of the season is to keep pushing until the end, but I think it will be very difficult.

"We will never give up. But the title is far from us; it's not in our hands. I think City are deserving, their consistency has put them in that position. Of course, we will go to the end, but I don't think the title will be going to us this year."

Be it mind games or Hayes truly thinking her team was that far off, her words lit something in Chelsea. Their following two performances showed the team’s determination to have a shot at some silverware.

As for Saturday's schedule, Hayes believes her team is facing the "tougher of the two games."

"It's a fitting finale for me, being my final game," she told BBC Sport. "As I said to the players if someone gives you a second chance in life, make sure you don't need a third one. We're in the position we want to be in, and we'll give it everything on Saturday no matter what."

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