Carolyn Swords: Pushing the Envelopes

Before the start of the 2012 WNBA season, Chicago Sky center Carolyn Swords spent her offseason playing in Spain last fall and Turkey after Christmas. There was nothing unusual about that – many WNBA players go overseas in winter and spring. But Swords’ experience was truly unique and special to her. She devoted much of her time writing to 30 elementary school students back home in the States – a hobby that began with her days at Boston College.

The Sky, who drafted Swords with the 15th overall pick of the 2011 WNBA Draft, helped Swords to locate an elementary school to serve as the 6-foot-6 post player’s pen pals. They found one in Andrea Anderson’s fifth grade class at R.C. Hill Elementary School in Romeoville. “It’s just a really fun way to connect with the kids so I thought it would be a fun experiment to try while I was overseas,” Swords said. “I was able to take pictures of my experiences and send them with the letters.”

Swords could have written one letter to the entire class, but she decided to get more personal and write to each student in the class individually. While sports were a main theme, she took time to talk about their interests off the court such as reading and career choices. “Some are athletes themselves,” Swords said. “They love to hang out with their families, are active readers, and have a wide range of interests and abilities. Each one is so unique and they ask great questions. I feel I really want to respond to each student individually and write back to each one as opposed to the whole class.”

Writing 30 personalized letters for each student in Ms. Anderson’s class certainly kept her busy, but Swords balanced it well with her workload on the court and found it definitely assisted in her ability to get through the long off-season away from family and friends.

Carolyn finished her rookie campaign as a significant contributor to the Sky. She wound up shooting 53 percent from the field goal and pulling down 1.8 rebounds per game. She set four career highs on Sept. 8 at Minnesota where she picked up nine points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out four assists and recorded three blocks.

This year, Swords has eased into her role as a solid bench player backing up All-Star Sylvia Fowles and veteran center Ruth Riley. On June 10, Swords came off the bench to score four points and grab four boards in 13 minutes of play in a win at New York. While Swords is still finding her niche in the league as a second-year player, she can already find support from the fan club she’s built not with her play, but with her heart.