Chat With WNBA President Donna Orender

It has been a busy offseason so far in the WNBA. So busy, in fact, that league President Donna Orender only refers to the seven-month break as the ONseason!

With the new expansion franchise in Atlanta, WNBA players starring overseas and perhaps the deepest draft class yet set to infuse the league with loads of new talent, Orender has had a difficult time masking her enthusiasm for the league's future.

Send in your questions now as WNBA President Donna Orender chats live this afternoon, Tuesday, December 18, at 4 p.m. ET.

 Moderator: And we're off... WNBA President Donna Orender is here and ready to chat!

Elizabeth (Minneapolis, MN): Do you enoy watching women's college basketball? Any favorite teams or players?

 Donna Orender: Absolutely, love watching. Went to see Rutgers play Maryland recently and look forward to seeing a game in Tennessee after the first of the year.

I enjoy the intensity of the competition, the rivalries, seeing how much the game has grown - the athletes are fantastic and of course seeing who is going to make the WNBA even more successful in the future.

Luci in Houston, TX: What are your thoughts on the Houston Comets moving to Reliant Arena?

 Donna Orender: Hi Luci, we are all very excited about the new home for the Houston Comets. There are terrific plans to engage season ticket holders and turn the arena into a HOME COURT ADVANTAGE.

Natalie - Washington, DC: Donna - You're doing a great job heading up the WNBA - thanks! My question: can you give us an update on the CBA? Do you think there'll be an agreement soon?

 Donna Orender: You have great judgement Natalie --- :-)
CBA discussions are ongoing. We are all motivated to make a deal as reasonably and as soon as we can.

BA Baracus (Phoenix , AZ): The league is doing great. The improvements to the website, great rookies and an expansions team means the WNBA is unstoppable. How long do you want to continue being Commish, have you ever thought of an acting career?

 Donna Orender: On behalf of our webmasters, I say thank you. They are doing a great job digitally for the WNBA... and more great stuff is planned...

I love my job and with regards to acting... I think I do it everyday when i enter my kitchen... I pretend I can cook.

kevin (macon ga): I see that the Atlanta franchise has narrowed its name choices to four: Dream, Flight, Sizzle, and Surge. Which one do you like best?

 Donna Orender: Kevin,
Which one do you like? As for me... I'm happy with what the fans and Mr. Terwilliger chooses. A lot of thought went into choosing the options, so candidly any one of them will be great.

Mitch (West Bloomfield, MI): Hi President Orender, It's the offseason for the WNBA and a lot of the players are playing overseas. But I've noticed that some, like Ruth Riley, are very involved in community service and charitable works. I think it's amazing that the league and its players are so dedicated to their communities, but I'm wondering why that's such a focus in the WNBA?

 Donna Orender: First, there's no offseason for the WNBA... it's the ON-season now.
The women of the WNBA truly realize and embrace the pioneering role they play as well as being role models. They make it a priority being accessible to the young players of today as they know they can make a difference.

Chad (Manassas, VA): Any news on the timing and particulars of the expansion draft for Atlanta?

 Donna Orender: Hey Chad,

I've been to Manassas....nice spot.

The timing of the draft is tied to the CBA. So at this point I don't have a date for you, but like many of our fans, we're eager to see who will play in the league's newest city. I know Coach Meadors is excited as well.

Ryan F. (Tiburon, CA): Hi Donna, about how many hours per day do you spend just being a fan, watching WNBA games and reading the online papers and articles?

 Donna Orender: Hours, Ryan? Being the best fan I can be of the WNBA is doing the work that it takes to help sell this league... that doesn't leave many minutes to just be a fan.

California: Hi Donna - i just want to tell you that you are doing a great great job for the WNBA!! Keep up the good work.. Who is your favorite player in the WNBA right now??? I know you can't answer that but at one point it looked like you were a Becky Hammon Fan!!

 Donna Orender: They are all my favorite players... they are the best in the world. That said, I will always be a Becky Hammon fan... and Tamika and Diana and Sue and Ruth and Sheryl and Tina... Lisa, Tameka, Michelle, Taj....

Kirven (Rancho Cordova, CA): It looks like the W has a strong foundation of fans. People like me who love and support the game. What can we, the fans, do to bring in more fans? I plan on going to my local professional women groups. What more can I do?

 Donna Orender: Kirven, it's simple, really. Bring more fans!!!

Mary (St. Paul, MN): I know you have a crazy travel schedule. But it would be great if you were at the home opener of the Lynx 10th season. You always bring good luck when you attend a game at the Target Center.

 Donna Orender: Hi Mary!

I love coming to Minnesota... I remember the record-setting game well... Minnesota vs. Los Angeles. That was fun. I know for sure I will be in Phoenix for opening day... That's all I have so far... so whenever I get there to Minnesota, I will be hoping to say hello.

jammerbirdi - los angeles, ca: any interesting rules changes that we can look forward to this year?

 Donna Orender: Do you have any in mind? Our coaches feel that the game is progressing well and look to keep building on the momentum we currently have... So, I don't see any major changes on the immediate horizon.

Jen, Sacramento, California: After the officiating last season, many fans and players seemed upset by it. There were many games where the officiating was lopsided for one half and then the next half it was lopsided the other way. Is the WNBA going to try and fix the problems that seemed to be an all season long thing with the officials?

 Donna Orender: Hi Jen,
I actually got to speak to a lot of fans in Sacramento about officiating. While I do hear complaints - often loudly - I do have to tell you that over the course of the season the offciating by a measure of our coaches and other evaluative processes has been positive. Can we improve? Of course. Our basketball ops team is state of the art when it comes to training, evaluating and monitoring.

That said, I have not seen many fans who are very impartial. You should know we employ the best, set the highest standards and expect the best.

Melissa (New Jersey) WNBAS FAN: Dear Mrs. Orender your a great WNBA President! Me and my friend met you once in a game in ny you were so nice!My question is will there ever be a WNBA Video Game? I know some of the players came out in NBA Street Homecourt But I Would really love to have a WNBA Video game. All the sports games out there is always all about the men and never about the fantastic Women Sport players we have especially in the WNBA!

 Donna Orender: Melissa, have you played NBA Street? It is really fun for me to be Diana and Lisa playing the boys... It reminds me of my youth. At this point, there aren't plans for a women-only game but if you want it, I'd suggest you write to the gaming companies and let them know. Thanks!

Yona (Brooklyn, NY): We can do so much with engaging the Fans and users on the WNBA websites doing the off season. A definite avenue to publicize and create more interest in the WNBA. Are there any plans to add more interactive games and products to the team and WNBA website?

 Donna Orender: Yona, have you been engaged with Fan Voice at all? I agree with you and we'd like to build our online community. I'm sitting with our braintrust now - and know that plans are underway for continuing development of the site. I'm not sure about a new game as of today but know that we would like to pursue something.

Nicole (Portland, OR): Hey Donna, I get so mad because with our Olympic team there are sooo players who get overlooked like Becky Hammon, Nykesha Sales, Katie Douglas. If it was up to me, i would take all 5 starters for Connecticut, and im not a Connecticut fan. But there very good talent. What can people/coaches do so these great players who are helping their team win, get a chance at USA team?

 Donna Orender: Hey Nicole, I can assure you that no players are overlooked. Perhaps the players you favor are not selected, but I can tell you first-hand that all players are considered. I do agree with you regarding Connecticut, they have great talent. Jamie Carey actually had a run with the USA team this fall.

Emily B.: I am a 15 year old sports fanatic...I play bball but am not necessarily the star of the team and I know I don't have a career in playing pro, but I'd love to have a career involving sports...something like your job...any advice?

 Donna Orender: Yes. Come to my office, dress nicely and you can have my job. :-)

Actually, you should think about what part of the sports world you would like to work in. There is TV, media, advertising, operations, coaching. The list is long.... once you have a direction, you should start volunteering, seeking internships and even begging to get exposure.

Good luck and keep working on your shooting.

kevin (macon ga): I heard that Dennis Rodman was interested in coaching a WNBA team. Have you spoken to him about it? Is he a candidate for the Seattle job?

 Donna Orender: i have not personally spoken to dennis but he certainly has a way of letting us know his interestes. Can't say i've heard that he is a candidate for Seattle.

Leonard Washington, Birmingham, Alabama: Will the WNBA ever schedule pre season games in areas without a WNBA team, like Birmingham, Knoxville or some other Southern mid size town?

 Donna Orender: Leonard, we actually have played in several non-WNBA cities including Albuquerque, Baton Rouge, Bridgeport, Ct., Wichita... You want us to come to Birmingham? Not sure about this year... but we do hope you will get to Atlanta.

Clay Bennett San Francisco CA: Is Sheryl Swoopes gonna play again this year?

 Donna Orender: Clay, it's great to have so many fans of Sheryl Swoopes. She has done so much for this league and I don't think she's done yet. I do know she's working out and do hope to see her on the court this summer.

Mez (Flatiron, NY): Now that you have been on the job for three seasons, what would you say have been your greatest accomplishments and what do you see as your biggest challenges moving forward?

 Donna Orender: Mez - where is Flatiron?

I think it's great that we are moving in the right direction. Attendance is up, ratings were up, we set finals attendance records, web traffic was up, our new TV deal is for 8 years with rights fees and a new team... I'd say we had a pretty good year and we are leading it all with truly inspired basketball. The biggest opportunity is getting the word out on the quality of basketball... it exceeds the uninitiated's expectations... that awareness is a key to growth.

 Donna Orender: Thanks for all of your questions. I'd love to answer them all but unfortunately the conference room is full and ready for the next meeting.

Thanks for your kind words and support of the league. Let's continue to buy tickets, bring in new fans and spread the word. Let's do this again soon...

Happy Holidays to all!