Minnesota Lynx Inspiring Woman for August

Dane Mizutani
Web Editorial Assistant

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Shirley Westlie slowly walked toward halfcourt Tuesday night in the second quarter of the game between the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks at Target Center. She looked out at the crowd of more than 9,000 fans and flashed a tiny smile before accepting the honor as the Minnesota Lynx Inspiring Woman for August.

Westlie then moseyed back to her seat in the crowd and gave one last bashful wave as she stepped out of sight. This was the final installment of the Minnesota Lynx Inspiring Woman accolade for the 2014 season and Westlie admittedly was a little taken aback that the Minnesota Lynx chose her as the final honoree.

Im just amazed that Im the person getting this honor, Westlie said. There are so many other people that are just as deserving of this honor.

On Military Appreciation Night at Target Center, however, there might not have been a better person in the arena to receive the honor.

Westlie is a WWII veteran and served as Flight Orderly for the US Navy during her years of service. In her time with the US Navy, she transported returning GIs to hospitals throughout the United States and for her effort also received the American Theater Campaign Medal and the WWII Victory Medal.

We were trained to handle any type of emergency that came up over land or sea, she said. We had a pretty good handle on things.

Westlie has been through it all and still carries herself with a sense of humbleness that cant be feigned. Though she was hesitant to accept to honor at first, she said the Lynx organization as well as the honor itself exemplify the strides women have made in recent decades.

I know when I was in the Navy it was unusual for women to pursue these kinds of activities, Westlie said, so its interesting and very inspiring to see the way women have come along over the last 60 years.

Westlie said Tuesday was her first Lynx game, but mentioned she used to have season tickets for the Minneapolis Lakers when George Mikan was on the roster back in the 1950s.

Ive kind of see it grow since it was only an NBA team and now it has a WNBA team, Westlie said. Im delighted to see the way women have come along to be so successful in the Twin Cities. Theres so much dignity to it now and its become very acceptable and I think thats great.

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