Fan Stories with SLAM's Ben York
|Kara Braxton and Shavonte Zellous pose for a picture with mega-fan Chloe|
In my years as a writer, I can safely say that no other sport Iíve covered has provided me with more impactful fan appreciation stories than the WNBA. Truthfully, itís not even close. Not only have I received dozens of emails at random on this topic, but Iíve personally witnessed these events on a nightly basis.
Perhaps even more stunning, the vast majority of these special encounters are truly remarkable and have affected the lives of thousands of individuals on a deep and personal basis. For WNBA fans and followers, having this connection with players is something that isnít, and never will be, taken for granted.
In a world where we often hear about the more negative sports stories, I believe it becomes imperative and necessary to remind ourselves that professional athleteís still have that indelible sense of appreciation and altruism. Thatís why I put out the call for WNBA fans to let me know what their unique story is Ė and the response was phenomenal.
Without further adieu, I present volume 1 of an exclusive series of fan stories Ė directly from you, the fan.
Hey Ben Ė
I have numerous stories from over the years but this one probably touched me the most. This past summer a bunch of us Detroit Shock fans traveled to Indy to see Kara Braxton (Phoenix) and Shavonte Zellous (Indy) play in Indianapolis. One of the little kids in our group, Chloe (8 years old) is a huge Kara Braxton fan. Kara knows this from her Detroit days and got to know a lot of the Detroit fans in our traveling party, including Chloe, fairly well over the years. Prior to the game, we went over to the Phoenix hotel to greet the Phoenix team before they got on the bus for the game. When the players came down and Kara saw us, we gave her a huge shout out and she (of course) came running over. She gave hugs to everyone and pictures to everyone that wanted them. Chloe was beaming. Kara was beaming and said she was excited to see us and said that when she met up with us in Chicago (she also gave us hugs when we road tripped to Chicago), she hoped weíd travel to see her in Indy. She then asked where weíd be after the game. We told her the name of the restaurant and she told us sheíd be there. Sure enough, after the game, Kara showed up with Shavonte. They hung out and ate dinner with all 17 or so of us until about midnight. They even brought a few other Phoenix players with them that sat off to the side. Kara chatted with all of us, colored with Chloe, and was just all around wonderful. Very cool night.
- Diane, Michigan
Thatís a fantastic story. Itís great to hear that not only did Kara show up, but she brought along a few friends! Sounds like you all had a fun night Ė especially Chloe.
Love your work!
I became an immediate fan of Monique Currie the first time I saw her move on the court. I admired her from the stands and was (informally) inaugurated (by her) as President of her Fan Club when she signed my poster "to the President of my fan club" before her junior year at Duke. Just as Duke began their march to Boston for the Final Four, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had my surgery just after rounds 1 and 2. With my stuffed animal Zelda, I hobbled to the send off as we cheered the Duke team leaving Cameron Indoor Stadium for the trip to Boston. I caught Monique's eye, told her I wished I could be in Boston and asked if Zelda could jump into her bag for the trip. Monique gave me an empathetic look, and then grabbed Zelda with a big smile, admiring her adornment with button photographs of Duke players in action. Monique's button was of course front and center! I was there to welcome the team home from Boston and managed to snag a spot where the players passed by on their way into the stadium. Monique had Zelda with her and returned her back to me. The look on her face showed that in that moment, her disappointment in losing in the finals paled to my medical reality. Obviously Monique will always hold a place in my heart because of the wonderful person she is.
Now, four years later, my health is good and Zelda is still telling me stories about her trip to Boston!
- Sue, North Carolina
I bet Zelda had an amazing trip! More importantly, Iím glad to hear you are in good health and still cheering Monique on.
Not sure if this is relevant to what youíre writing about, but Iíll share an experience I and 75 or so other Detroit Shock fans had just over a year ago. Youíre probably aware that after the announcement about the team being sold and moved Plenette Pierson put together an event to thank Detroit fans for making her feel at home during her years with the Shock. In addition to the fans, about a quarter of the team (everybody who stayed in town after the season ended), all of the sideline personnel (coaching staff, training staff, etc.), and what I would guess was the majority of the teamís other employees all showed up at the event. It was humbling how gracious they all were to the fans, thanking the people that attended, and showed their appreciation. The players and Rick Mahorn were willing to sign and pose for pictures with everyone. I have to admit, it felt very odd for a player to ask if I wanted to pose for a picture with them when I should have been offering my condolences and support. I also had the opportunity to thank Plenette for putting the event together, because honestly, in what other sport would a player do that? She couldnít have been more of a class act. I donít even think my description of the event does it justice.
- Amy, Michigan
What a great story! Sounds like Plenette truly appreciated all of your support as a fan.
Ben York is currently a writer for SLAM Magazine and has covered both the NBA and WNBA for over four years.
You can follow him on Twitter @bjyork
If you have a fan story that you would like to share, e-mail Ben.