WNBA FIT: Stars Help Keep Future Generations in Shape

Iziane Castro Marques leads a passing drill during a WNBA FIT event
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
Whenever the best players in the world show up to play together, one of the biggest challenges is finding a way to get everyone on the same page. After all, different systems work with different teams and certain players may know the inner workings in a way that best suits them. But if you break it down piece by piece and stick to just the fundamentals, any team can gel and play together with the look of one that’s been doing it for years.

That same philosophy specifically applies to this weekend’s WNBA vs. USA Basketball: Stars at the Sun game, but it also applies in the setting where you have a gym full of eager, willing and downright energetic kids come together for a WNBA FIT program.

Friday morning at Mohegan Sun Arena, WNBA players were on hand to help lead a WNBA FIT program with over 40 kids. Among those representing the WNBA All-Stars were the Atlanta Dream’s Iziane Castro Marques and Washington
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Stars at the Sun: WNBA FIT
Mystics teammates Crystal Langhorne and Monique Currie. For the USA Basketball side (and also notable WNBA stars), New York’s Cappie Pondexter, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry and hometown favorite Tina Charles each took to the court to help educate the future generations of potential WNBA and NBA stars on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

“I think it’s important to kind of give back and show them how important [fitness] is,” said Pondexter, sporting a pair of bright-yellow, glow-in-the-dark sneakers at the ladder station. “I hope that I make an impact on them today. They’ll remember this moment. I remember the first time I met Sheryl Swoopes at a Final Four and I’ll remember that the rest of my life, so hopefully they’ll remember this as well.”

Giving back to the community is one of the many elements that the WNBA embraces on a daily basis, in-season or off-season. Many of the players look at it as an opportunity to provide the younger generations with a chance to build on a healthier, more athletic lifestyle.

“One of the best things about these clinics is that it shows you don’t always have to be in a gym to be playing basketball,” said Connecticut Sun center and first-year WNBA player Charles. “There’s other aspects of the game. You can use anything just to play some basketball.”

The evidence was clear as participants dribbled around cones and various obstacles in an attempt to work on their ball-handling skills.

The appreciation and value of an event like this works both ways. Kids have an opportunity to learn all new ways of staying in shape, and the athletes gain a whole new perspective on their own dreams of having the opportunity to play basketball for a living.

“I wish I had it [when I was younger] because it’s just great when you can learn from WNBA players and stars,” said Castro Marques. “It’s very important for us to see and to pass this around, to emphasize that a healthy life is going to make a big difference.”

McCoughtry, a scond-year forward and teammate of Castro Marques, shared a similar outlook. “I really take pride in doing it because I wish I would’ve had this when I was younger,” she said, taking a minute to step aside from her jump rope station. “I just try to do it for the kids because I know it means a lot to them.”

WNBA President Donna Orender, an active participant in the morning’s events, slowed down long enough to share a few quick words on the day.

“They have this unbelievable opportunity to spend time in a very special place with very special people,” said Orender. “When kids come and feel that then they’re going to be open, and when you’re open you just never know where it’s going to take you. That’s the magic of this and that’s why I personally enjoy it so much.”

With that, Orender jumped right back into the fray of rope jumping, ladder running, ball dribbling and sit-ups to help promote one of the biggest facets of a long, healthy life – an active, athletic and all around fun lifestyle.