For Mother's Day, Stricklen's Mom Will Watch her Debut

Kevin Pelton, | May 9, 2012

When the Seattle Storm drafted Shekinna Stricklen with the second overall pick in last month's WNBA Draft, her mother Karen couldn't possibly have been more proud of her daughter's accomplishment. There was only one downside. The WNBA schedule wouldn't allow Stricklen to return home for Mother's Day, not with a preseason game against the Los Angeles Sparks scheduled for Sunday afternoon (2 p.m., ). Instead, the Storm arranged for the next best thing. The team is bringing Karen Stricklen to Seattle for the game. She'll be honored as part of the Storm's recognition of moms, sponsored by BECU.

"It's just an honor that the team and Karen (Bryant, the Storm's president & CEO) are doing this and flying her out here," said Shekinna. "I'm very excited. She's very excited. When I told her, she was so happy. To be here, especially in the first game I play in because I'm not getting to play in the Tulsa game, it will be amazing."

Shekinna Stricklen was the No. 2 pick of the 2012 WNBA Draft.
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images

Draft Day was an exciting experience for Stricklen and her mother.

Mother's Day is the capper to a busy weekend for Stricklen. Tomorrow, when the rest of the team travels to Tulsa for a preseason game on Friday, she's headed back to Tennessee for graduation. She'll walk on Friday morning before returning to Seattle in time for Sunday's game. Stricklen is thankful Storm Head Coach Brian Agler allowed her the time off for what she considers an important milestone.

"I worked so hard for four years," she said. "Not getting to walk, I'd feel bad because I'd feel like all the hard work I did in school and playing college ball, it just went down the drain because I didn't get to walk. But he's letting me go back and I'm truly blessed."

By graduating, Stricklen will be able to fulfill a time-honored Lady Vols tradition under Pat Summitt - signing the Graduation Pole in the Tennessee locker room. From Tamika Catchings to Chamique Holdsclaw to Candace Parker, every player to graduate has signed their name on the pole for posterity. Stricklen will add her name to the list this weekend.

Then it's time to focus on a WNBA career that has taken Stricklen several thousand miles away from her native Arkansas. While her family may be more distant than it was at Tennessee, Stricklen is including them in her journey. Her parents, two uncles and her grandfather came with her to the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn. for the draft, which her mom considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cherish.

"I tell everybody that to see your daughter get drafted to the WNBA is something to go see," Karen Stricklen said. "We didn't know what to expect. We didn't know what it was going to be like. We were just amazed to get to go into the ESPN sports station and sit there. That's probably something we'll never get to see again, but thank God we got to see it for the first time."

Since coming to Seattle for training camp, Stricklen has been calling home daily. Both mother and daughter appreciate the chance to catch up and discuss her progress. This weekend, she'll see both her parents, as her dad is going to Knoxville for graduation.

One of Stricklen's most memorable Mother's Days came during college, when she said she would come home for her mom's birthday in late May and not Mother's Day. Instead, Stricklen surprised her mom at church on Mother's Day and remembers her crying out of happiness.

There's no element of surprise this time around, but Karen Stricklen is looking forward to the opportunity to see her daughter on the holiday.

"Before this came up," said the elder Stricklen, "I told her a couple weeks ago, 'This is going to be the first Mother's Day that you're not going to come home. Usually you get to come home for Mother's Day or my birthday. This year it's not going to be right because I'm not going to get to see you for either one of them. I know I'll get to talk to you, but it's not the same as you being here with me for Mother's Day or my birthday.' So when she called and told me that she would see me on Mother's Day, I was really excited."

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