Around the House with Shyra Ely
EDDIE WHITE: It’s time for another edition of “Around the House.” We’ve been everywhere in this building, but we’ve never been in the locker room. But we are now. We are in the locker room of the Indiana Fever, and joining us is our first player on “Around the House,” ever – and she’s a local girl – Shyra Ely. Shyra how are you?
EDDIE: Thanks for being the first player. Is this a great honor for you?
SHYRA: Absolutely, it is. Thanks for having me.
EDDIE: This is an award-winning show, and for you to be the first player – I mean, this is pretty good.
SHYRA: I’m excited.
EDDIE: You have a phenomenal resume, and we’re going to get into it, but the first thing I want to talk about is what’s fresh in our memories: it was a pretty good season, it was exciting, fans were really into it at the end, but it ends, as all seasons do. Unless you win that last game and you walk out with a trophy, there’s some disappointment. Are you over it? Do you ever get over it?
SHYRA: No, I think it’s still pretty fresh. Any time your expectations are so high – a championship is definitely the ultimate goal – and you fall short, of course you’re disappointed, but I’m really proud of our team and I’m proud of our season.
One thing with the WNBA is once you lose, everything just stops, so just rolling out of bed and waking up and not having anywhere to go or anything to do, that’s different and difficult. But I think a lot of us will need this rest as we get ready for the overseas season, and I think with time, as with any loss, you’ll get over it, but it does kind of sting a little now.
EDDIE: As an athlete, and you said you guys had set your standard this year to win the championship, that’s a big goal and it’s a hard one to get, how do you handle it – I’m just a normal goofball; I mean, me, I’d be fine with .500 – do you get energy, do you come back next year and say, “We were so close, we go one more step . . . .” How do you channel that? What separates you from us, the normal people?
SHYRA: Well, I think we’re all just thinking about how we can take that next step next year and what we can do differently, how we can improve. After meeting with the coaching staff, I already have in my mind what I think will help the team next year and what will help myself next year. So, I think it’s all about getting better and really taking a minute to reflect and re-evaluate the season, and see what you can do better, what you can improve on for next year, so you can try to reach the goals which we want to meet, which is a championship.
EDDIE: I mentioned when we started that you’re a local girl – from Indianapolis, Ben Davis High School. Not a lot of WNBA players get to play in their hometown. What is that like? Greater ticket demands? Is it kind of cool being home? Are there pros and cons to playing here?
SHYRA: Yes, there’s pros and cons to everything, but I wouldn’t change it at all. I think the biggest con is not really ever having a day off, because when you do have a day off, that’s when your family wants to take advantage – which, at the same time, I’m blessed to be able to spend that time with my family, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to.
And ticket requests are amazing, but I have some really great people around me, and a lot of people that just came out of the woodworks and came to the games this year that I’m really thankful for. So, it was a dream come true – a great organization, a great experience – and hopefully we can just bring this full circle and bring a championship here.
EDDIE: I don’t want to make you feel old here, but this is Indiana, and basketball is really important to our state. Ten years ago, you got one of the greatest titles anyone can ever get, especially if you are born and raised in this state, and that was Miss Basketball for Indiana. It was 10 years ago; does it seem like 10 years ago? What did it mean back then, and what does it mean today?
SHYRA: Well, it doesn’t seem like 10 years ago, but I’m very proud to be 2001 Miss Basketball, proud to be a part of the tradition – especially with Indiana basketball. I played for a great program, and Stan Benge, and had great young women around me, and I’m positive that without them and without Coach, I wouldn’t have gotten that honor. So, it’s not just an individual honor, but I’m really proud of it, especially, as you said, being from Indianapolis.
Today, it definitely isn’t as – of course, 10 years later – it isn’t as fresh. But it really just warms my heart when people remember, and they say, “Oh, Miss Basketball, 2001 . . .” It’s always nice to hear, especially with Bria Goss, coming out of Ben Davis, this year getting Miss Basketball; it’s great to know that you left a mark, and people remember, and you influenced other players that can be successful too.
EDDIE: You talked about the great coach, the great tradition, the great history at Ben Davis. Your college career, same thing – great coach, great tradition. When you think women’s basketball for the last 25 years, a program that defines greatness, it’s the University of Tennessee, and it’s Pat Summitt. You went there, you played for the coach – why Tennessee?
SHYRA: Why Tennessee . . . I chose Tennessee because I wanted to work for everything that came to me. At that time, I was probably one of the more highly recruited high school players and had my choice to go to whatever school I wanted to. I knew that I would have to work for everything at Tennessee and I knew I wanted to make it to the next level, and I felt like Pat Summitt and her program could prepare me for that better than any other.
EDDIE: What does she mean to you?
SHYRA: She means a great deal to me, and I guess you don’t really know it until certain things are put into perspective. I had the opportunity to see her a few weeks ago, and I got really emotional just seeing her, because you spend so much time with someone for so long at a pivotal point in your life, and a very influential part of my life, and, you know, I grew with her – she’s not only a coach, she’s a mother figure.
I would do it all over again. Even without winning a championship, I would do it all over again. I’m very thankful for my experience there and the opportunity to play for Coach Summitt. I just wish her the best, and I know that with everything going on in her life, she’s a beacon of light to people all over the world, and I’m just blessed to be a part of it.
EDDIE: You look at her exterior . . . I worked for the Miami Dolphins and Don Shula was our coach, and he had this jaw, and the spit flying, and he’d be killing you, and all that other stuff. People would go, “My God, the guy’s a monster.” And then when you work with him. Oh, yeah, there’d be the days he’d kill you, and then there’d be the days that he’d hug you and pick you up. I get a sense she had to be the same way. We’d would see her on the court – you’d come out of the game, she’d grab you, I mean, she’s gonna kill you, but also she’d be able to give you a hug. She’s really something special.
SHYRA: She really is. I mean, you have to learn to take the message and not the tone. That’s one thing that I had to learn, just coming from a quiet home. My parents never yelled at me – my father’s a preacher, my mother’s a second grade teacher – so for someone to just rip into you, that was really hard for me to adjust to. But I learned that you take the message and not the tone. It’s really driven by love and her wanting to get the best out of you. Once you can realize that and take it for what it is, it’s much easier.
EDDIE: That’s a great description. Great description.
I saw this in my research – I do research for this show, you know, that’s why we win awards – your degree was in retail and consumer science at Tennessee. So, that means you’re a smart girl, you’re into business, sales, marketing, all that other stuff. I’m going to throw something at you here – I’m coming from left field with this one: you’re the president of the WNBA, you’re Laurel Richie for a day, you can implement any rules, anything you want to do, what would you do to make the game better, to make the league better?
SHYRA: That’s a great question. I have a lot of ideas. One thing, for instance, although we’re athletes, I’m sure everyone knows we’re people too, so I think that we could sometimes bring out more of our personal [side]. You know, what we’re into off the court, if we’re not playing basketball, what we’d be doing, versus if it’s overseas, still playing, or if you’re making another living in the states in the offseason. Just being more personal with our fans – I think Twitter has helped a ton with that – and just being able to connect to your fan base. And I think the WNBA does a great job with social networking, and just including fans and teams and organizations, players.
I think that the change in our leadership with the WNBA – I’m looking forward to seeing what things happen and what changes are made and how we can improve this league and the longevity of it. I think Laurel Richie’s a great addition to the league, and I’m just really excited to see how we grow.
EDDIE: What’s your Twitter handle?
SHYRA: My Twitter handle is @shyshy43
EDDIE: Okay. I’m @eddiewhite3, so I’ll follow you, you follow me.
SHYRA: We’ll follow each other.
EDDIE: Give me a little love here. [Eddie and Shyra bump fists]
EDDIE: You’ve played in Texas, Chicago, Seattle, but you’ve also played in Turkey, China, Greece, Poland, South Korea, all this other stuff. There’s good to that, you see the world, but today’s world for a women’s professional basketball player, it’s tough; you really have to play it because you love the game.
SHYRA: Right. It is tough, but I just try to be thankful and grateful for everything. I know that had I not been playing basketball, I wouldn’t be afforded the opportunities to travel the world. As I get older, I’m more appreciative of the different places that I’ve traveled to, but when I was younger I think I kind of, not necessarily took it for granted, but just didn’t give it the value that it deserves. You know, it’s one thing to travel by yourself, but you meet so many new people in different cultures, you get to see people all over the world and how they live and how it’s so different from America, and you definitely learn to appreciate everything that has to do with America. But, like you said, I’ve been all over the world, and I know that I wouldn’t have that opportunity if it wasn’t for basketball, so I’m very thankful and I’ve tried to make the most out of all my trips.
EDDIE: Michael Jackson’s you’re favorite singer?
EDDIE: What’s your favorite song of his?
SHYRA: My favorite song is definitely “Man in the Mirror.”
EDDIE: Great song.
SHYRA: Great song, best song. And number two would have to be “Human Nature.”
EDDIE: The guy’s a genius.
EDDIE: Did you moonwalk back in the day, have you done that?
SHYRA: I’ve moonwalked a few times.
EDDIE: You can moonwalk?
SHYRA: Yeah, a little bit.
EDDIE: Are you going to do it, can you show us the moonwalk?
SHYRA: I haven’t stretched or anything, so . . . .
EDDIE: So, maybe the next time?
SHYRA: The next time, for sure.
EDDIE: The last thing. Ten years from now, I find you, what are you doing?
SHYRA: In ten years, I will have probably, I’ll be well into a family life, and I’ll be running my own personal styling business – celebrity stylist, something like that, something to do with fashion, glamour. But I’ll definitely be in the family way, I think.
EDDIE: So, if this show is still around, celebrating its 10th anniversary . . .
SHYRA: And I’m sure it will be . . . .
EDDIE: . . . oh, gotta be, a decade of “Around the House . . .” – you could maybe get me a wardrobe deal, and I could get out of polo shirts and khakis, and upgrade a little bit?
SHYRA: Absolutely, if that’s what you want to do.
[Eddie and Shyra bump fists]
EDDIE: Hey, thanks for being the first player ever on “Around the House.”
SHYRA: Thank you.
EDDIE: Check us again, down the road.