Shalee Shares the Impact of Sports as the Dream Celebrates National Girls and Women in Sports Day

On February 2, 2011, the Dream and thousands of others across the country will celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day with this year’s theme “Play, Believe, Achieve.” Since its inception in 1987, NGWSD has become the premiere occasion to celebrate the participation, success and accomplishments of girls and women athletes. What started in 1987 as a single event in Washington, D.C. to honor Olympic volleyball star Flo Hyman has grown into a nationwide celebration across all 50 states. NGWSD is an important day to promote the continued expansion of opportunities for girls and women to play sports and be physically active. In celebration of the day, Dream guard Shalee Lehning shared how sports have positively impacted and shaped her life.

Having the opportunity to play sports since I was a kid helped me develop into the person I am today. From a young age, sports taught me important life lessons. I learned what it means to be a part of a team and how to work with other people to accomplish a goal. Sports taught me how to be dedicated and commit myself to being the best I could be in whatever I do. They also taught me how through hard work and dreaming big that anything is possible.

When I was a young girl, I dreamed about playing in the WNBA. A lot of people told me that was not possible and that I would never get there. I was told I wasn’t fast enough, I wasn’t tall enough, I wasn’t athletic enough… on and on! That stuff didn’t matter to me. I believed I could accomplish it so I used it as motivation. I set goals and worked daily to accomplish them. Now, years later, I play in the WNBA for the Atlanta Dream. To me, having the opportunity to play professionally is simply “a dream come true.” I get to compete against the best basketball players in the world each night and travel the United States playing the game I love. Most importantly, I accomplished the goal I set for myself.

Sports has been the center of my life and built the foundation that I live by every day. In the off-season, I am an assistant coach at Kansas State University. Another goal I set for my life was to impact lives of others. I know how much sports positively impacted my life, so now I want to use the opportunity to coach as a tool that will help change lives. I hope that through my professional playing career and collegiate coaching that I can be an encouragement to others. I am a prime example that anything is possible if you just believe, and play sports.