Inspirational Women Honored
Posted: Sept. 6, 2008
With their title defense on the line, the Mercury was willing to welcome any additional inspiration when they hosted the Monarchs on Friday night.
Four Valley women were honored for their outstanding community outreach efforts and Ali Vincent, winner of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” was named the Mercury’s 2008 Inspiring Woman of the Year during a halftime ceremony.
“Tonight is such an honor,” Vincent said. “I’m a homegrown girl and I have been a fan of the Mercury since day one. It’s an honor to be recognized by such an amazing organization. I’ve always looked to them as women who are going after it with strength and confidence against all odds.”
The Valley native will also serve as the Team Mercury captain for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K run/walk on Oct. 12, benefitting the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. She has been documenting her preparations for the big race in a blog on PhoenixMercury.com.
The four award winners, Brenda Combs from Grand Canyon University, Marge Ebeling of the WellCare Foundation, Gabbi Martin of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Adriana Delgado, Boys & Girls Club, were selected out of numerous nominations collected throughout the season. Breast cancer survivors and Habitat for Humanity volunteers were also recognized.
“When I think of what inspiration is, I think of what it felt like to go for something that felt impossible,” said Vincent. “I looked to women like the players on the Mercury for inspiration for that because that’s what it’s about. It’s about pushing yourself physically to the ultimate limits, which opens the door to be able to push yourself mentally and emotionally. We’re creators of our own destinies and the Mercury is a pure example of that. I took their energy and created mine.”
Inspiring Women is a WNBA platform which recognizes women for inspiring others through commitment and dedication to work, family and community.
“Last year (Good Morning America’s) Robin Roberts was honored and this year we have Ali from The Biggest Loser and she is remarkable,” said Mercury General Manager Ann Myers Drysdale. “We received entries from across the state of Arizona and picked four finalists. Every story we heard left us in awe of these women, and I don’t use that word loosely, because of how they have turned their lives around and how they impacted so many other people.”
Their impact was felt on the court, as well, as the Mercury foght off postseason elimination with an inspiring 81-69 win over Sacramento to move to within two games of the final Western Conference playoff spot with four games remaining in the regular season schedule.
Governor Remains Undefeated
An inspiring woman in her own right, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano was also on hand, acting as honorary Mercury coach for the fourth time. The state’s top executive was introduced with the team’s starting line up before taking her seat behind the bench.
“It’s a very special night and we commemorate it in a whole lot of different ways,” said Napolitano, who moves to 4-0 as honorary coach. “Everyone knows someone who is a cancer survivor. It’s a special night with a special team.”
Sporting her official Mercury polo shirt and cheering with every play, the Governor continued to be impressed at how the players represent themselves and their community, on and off the court.
“I think the Mercury players are wonderful role models for the girls in Phoenix and the Phoenix area,” she said. “They play at such a high level with such intensity and energy all the time. They’re real professionals and they’re a joy to watch.”
Meyers Drysdale Joins Impressive Broadcasting Company
Already in basketball’s most exclusive club, Meyers Drysdale, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, will be adding a broadcasting honor to her impressive resume.
Following her informative and entertaining stint as analyst for NBC’s telecasts of women’s basketball at the Olympic Games in Beijing, she was voted Sportscast of the Month by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters organization. She joins broadcast legends such as Dick Enberg, Al Michaels, Vin Scully and her late husband, former baseball star and popular television announcer, Don Drysdale, on the list of previous winners.
“I’m really honored, honestly, because they honored Don before as a broadcaster,” said Meyers Drysdale, who will accept the award during a ceremony on Sept. 17. “It is a thrill. You’ve got all of the big names, a lot of great announcers and I’m very excited to be listed among them.”
While honored by the recognition for her work, the ultimate reward was the experience itself. Watching two of her Mercury players succeed on the Olympics’ global stage and being able to take in the sights throughout her stay in China highlighted a trip she will not soon forget.
“It’s a matter of just representing my country,” she said with pride. “I’m grateful to NBC for asking me to be the announcer. Being an Olympian, in representing our country in 1976, and now having been able to broadcast the games, was incredible.
“I was so proud of (Mercury guards and Olympians) Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi, my heart was just bursting for them. But all of the players, to know that they represented our country with such grace, pride and style, so competitive and classy, it’s always such a great honor. Then to see the flag and the National Anthem played because they played to the best of their ability and they went 8-0 in the Olympic Games. They have got to be one of the best teams that have come around in a long time in Olympic competition. “