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Tegan McGrady on How We Move Forward

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Tegan McGrady is a defender for the Washington Spirit of the NWSL. A Stanford University graduate, she helped lead the Cardinal to the 2017 NCAA Championship. Below, she spoke with Just Women’s Sports about the ongoing protests, what makes this moment unique, and why it has given her hope for the future. 

Why do you think it’s important to speak out now? 

I feel that it’s important to speak out now, first of all, because I am half black and I feel that this is something that has hit me a lot harder than anything else in my life. Being black in this world and America, I’ve always understood the hardships that it comes with. I haven’t experienced all of those hardships myself, but I’ve seen the racism. It’s been pointed towards me. It’s been pointed towards my family. And there’s a time where you just have to speak out. You have to say how you’re feeling. I’ve been reluctant in years past to really speak up, because I’m not one who speaks up unless I have a strong desire or passion. But now I feel like it’s finally my turn to speak on something that I’ve lived. And I see how it’s affecting people around me for the better. There’s so many lists of books by black authors that people are sharing right now. In previous years, people might have been offended if a black person told them to read this or that book, but now we’re able to help people understand what the black community is saying and what they are describing as their oppression in this world.

Broadly speaking, what do you think needs to change? How do we move forward?

I think it starts with education. Young kids going to school today are being sheltered from some of the things that have happened in our history. Racism is not something that we should be shying away from. My mom is a first grade teacher, and I’ve been able to listen to her kids. They’re smart. They understand way more than we think they do. The fact that racism is a difficult topic just means that it needs to be more focused on. People try and say, “Oh, we don’t see color.” But if you don’t see color, then you haven’t really seen the history of this world, the history of this country. We need to talk about the fact that we do see color. And we need to talk about history in a way that includes everyone. Then we can move forward.

Yeah, it seems like when we were young, we were taught to be “colorblind,” but that’s not really the right approach. 

Exactly. You can’t be color blind in this world because in order to understand the history of anyone in the world, you have to see color. But that doesn’t mean you have to see it in a way where one is better than the other. You can see color as representing different cultures, different people that we can learn from. Then you see that color isn’t a bad thing. Color is a great thing. It gives us a foundation to build a country on top of. And you can see that with what we’re doing now in the black community. We’re not asking to be seen as not black. We’re asking to be seen as black and equal.

You play a sport that is known to be pretty white. How has race intersected with your experience as an athlete? And how can soccer improve?

The crazy part is I never thought of it that way. I grew up in an area where I might have been on the more privileged side of the black community. And that’s why I myself have tried to take a step back and step outside my own privilege to understand the wider black community. I didn’t grow up with many black people playing soccer around me, but the ones that did, we were all very close. We all gravitated towards each other. It’s definitely hard when you get to the highest level and you look around a team and you don’t see anyone else who really looks like you. But I think as a society, we can change that. I wish I had all the answers, but I really think it starts with educating the younger generations, with giving younger girls the confidence that they can make it to the next level, no matter their race. It’s going to take a lot, but I believe that we have the resources and the people in this country to do it.

It’s always been super interesting because even during my time at Stanford, I was always trying to find where I fit in. If I truly fit in with the black community, if I truly fit in with the white community, if me being half black and half white sometimes staggered my understanding of where I come from or who I truly am. I felt stuck in the middle at some point. But ultimately, I feel like I’m blessed to be both. I feel like I can help bridge this gap. That’s where I think I can use my privilege and turn it into something where I can help bring people closer together.

Racism isn’t new. What do you think it is about this moment that has sparked such a widespread movement? 

It could be multiple things. I think social media has such a big presence now. Now everyone can see these murders, they can hear the desperation in George Floyd’s voice when he says, “I can’t breathe.” And then I think there’s a reaction within the black community that’s simply, enough is enough. We have seen too much of this. We have felt too much of this. We’re putting our foot down. When you watch the full video, nine minutes is a long time. It really hits you. And I think for a lot of people in this country, it hit them hard. Everything finally snapped, and you had this waterfall effect where everyone saw how much it was affecting those around them. And that’s something we can’t be blind to. We have to be able to see that. We have to be able to talk about that.

And this is one of the first times in a long time where I’ve seen millions of people being willing to open up and talk about the problems this country is facing with race and inequality. You just hope this isn’t something that’s going to fizzle out. But I feel with so many voices that have spoken out, that I don’t know how something like this could fizzle out, because I don’t think in our lifetime that I’ve ever seen something this big really go the way that it has. It really gives me hope for the future. I mean, I’ve never spoken up about anything. So if I can speak up and other people can speak up and this keeps going, it gives me butterflies in my stomach to see where this could all lead to, especially with all the elections coming up. So much could change in this country within the next year, or even just the next three, four months down the line.

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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