The athletes attending All-Star weekend are female basketball players at the top of their game. They have passion, they have talent, they have discipline and now they have the weekend to enjoy the fruits of their labor. League President Donna Orender reminds us that women's basketball is more than a competition.
"The WNBA is about celebrating motivation and inspiration," Orender explains.
As WNBA All-Stars have mastered their craft, their accomplishments ignite change for today while they establish a precedent for tomorrow.
As the WNBA defies the limitations previously set for women, Chicago Sky's Candice Dupree recognizes that sports can plant the seeds that enable young women to grow and achieve.
"Many young girls these days don't have a lot of outlets," says Dupree. "Or they may not have a lot of role models in their home. Playing sports and being able to look up to professionals is great for young girls."
Connecticut's Katie Douglas remembers how playing sports impacted her childhood.
"Basketball instilled in me competitiveness as well as a work ethic.... It made me always want to get better, not just in basketball, but as a person and in life."
As the WNBA All-Stars moved up the ranks in their sport, they all had role models who helped them to cultivate their talents and believe in their dreams. The Houston Comets' Michelle Snow was inspired by a high school coach and an assistant coach in college at Tennessee, Micki DeMoss (now at Texas).
"Those two always told me no matter how tough things were, to keep my confidence high, keep my head up and if I keep working, anything is possible."
In the experience of the Mystics' DeLisha Milton-Jones, inspirational women sometimes appeared in unexpected places.
"It may sound very trivial, but I admired the fact that someone like Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad of The Cosby Show) was successful," Milton-Jones recalls. "(The Cosby Show) showed African-Americans in a different light and it showed me life isn't exactly how it is being portrayed to me. That was something that I could look at and dream about."
Now the torch has been passed, and the All-Stars are in a position to feed young minds with their recipes for success.
Says Snow: "I know that I can reach the community and be a role model for young ladies. When I was young, I was looking for role models and inspirations and now I can be that inspiration for other young ladies."
All-Stars inspire and motivate as they embody the characteristics that allow women to succeed in all avenues of life.
"Whether on the basketball court, the soccer field or the golfing greens, women athletes move our country forward with each play. They play an important role, as models for athletic success, but also as citizen ambassadors and mentors for so many young girls around the world who dare to dream of more,"says the recipient of the WNBA's 2007 Inspiration Award, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Indiana's Anna DeForge describes the personal traits that have helped her to achieve her goals.
"The qualities that I possess that have been the most beneficial for me today are my mental approach and my perseverance. I have never given up on my passions and never let someone else define me as a person or player," DeForge proudly states.
Tamika Catchings' advice to young women? "Having a dream is easy, but reaching it is harder. But if you have your mind made up with what it is you want to do and achieve, put it into action because you can achieve anything you put your mind to."
All the WNBA All-Stars have traveled a unique path, using determination, discipline
and good character to guide them. These athletes now come together, making the
WNBA a place where athletes play and inspiration begins.
“Basketball instilled in me competitiveness as well as a work ethic... It made me always want to get better, not just in basketball but as a person and in life,” Katie Douglas explains.
By Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images