Sparks Earn Tips for Charity

By Mirin Fader

This past Saturday wasn’t typical for Jillian’s at Universal City Walk. As guests began to fill the restaurant and arcade around noon, they were greeted by waitresses much taller than they were accustomed to: the Los Angeles Sparks squad.

Serving as honorary waitresses for the Tip-A-Spark charity event, the players were eager to meet and mingle with fans to raise money for the LA Sparks Foundation and Kids in Sports, Los Angeles (KIS). <

Each player was given a pen and tablet to record guests’ orders, and was assigned to serve three different tables. A separate tip box was allotted for each player at the bar.

Jillian’s had a special menu for the event, including Kristi Toliver’s buzzer-beater brownie bites, and Candace Parker’s GOLDen Cheesecake in spirit for the forward who was in Turkey scoring 14 points for Team USA in their 109-55 win over Croatia while Tip-A-Spark was taking place.

What started out as a level playing field turned into a friendly competition when DeLisha “Sunshine” Milton-Jones stole the show with her smile and bubbly personality, and as a result, her tip box was getting heavier than the rest of the players’ boxes. Her “Sunshine Salad” was gaining popularity on the menu.

Fans enjoyed the ensuing rivalries between the players as Milton-Jones began serving tables outside of those assigned to her, prompting her teammates to step their game up.

Amid the laughter and fun had by all, it was clear the Sparks’ competitive fire extends beyond the allure of a win on the court, this time for a cause outside of themselves. After the first few times of running around and going back and forth between the tables and the kitchen with orders, the players learned firsthand that waitressing isn’t as easy as they had thought.

“That’s a hard job!” Milton-Jones said. “The next time I go out to eat, I’m going to leave a big tip.”

Ebony Hoffman echoes her appreciation.

“It was different being on the server’s side of things,” she said. “I have a new found respect for them.”

The Sparks also challenged fans in arcade games, pool, and bowling. Hoffman couldn’t be stopped in air hockey, all the while declaring “OLAY” after every victory. Alana Beard and Nicky Anosike both proved to be skilled in pool, while Ogwumike enjoyed Dance Dance Revolution. Toliver racked up points in Super Shot while Marissa Coleman bowled a few strikes. Sharnee’ Zoll received a warm welcome as she interviewed several players and mingled with fans.

The Sparks will next hold a free basketball clinic for fans 18 and under courtesy of Simi Valley Ford on July 28 from 3-5 p.m.