Rookie Spotlight: Inga Orekhova

By Jordan Watters, Media Relations Intern

Many athletes are born into families who have solid athletic backgrounds. But not many can say that both of their parents were professional athletes of the same sport, or that they played on the same team as one of their parents. However, Atlanta Dream rookie Inga Orekhova is one person who can make this claim.

Orekhova has lived in many regions across the world. She was born in the Ukraine and at the age of 2 moved to Austria, where she lived for the next 15 years. After deciding to move to the U.S. to face better basketball competition, she lived in San Diego for high school before attending Northeastern Oklahoma A&M junior college and then the University of South Florida. And now she finds herself in Atlanta.

It’s no surprise that basketball has been such a big part of Orekhova’s life, as both of her parents played professional basketball overseas.

“When I was little, I always had to go to practice with either my mom or my dad because they didn’t have anybody to watch me,” Orekhova said. “My mom would sit me on the sidelines and say ‘Do not cross this line.’ So every time they would start running, I’d start running up and down the sidelines, too.”

Around age 15, Orekhova began running the court alongside her mother because they were teammates and later won a championship together.

“It was fun, but then again it wasn’t,” Orekhova said. “On the court, she wasn’t my mom anymore, she was my teammate, which was weird. Then if we got into an argument, we took it home.”

Since basketball occupied most of her time, Orekhova’s adolescent years were vastly different from her peers.

“I was wanting to go out and have fun with my friends,” Orekhova said. “I wanted to do things like go to the movies and chill at home, but I didn’t really have a choice. My parents always told me to go to the gym, go put some shots up, and go work out.”

Orekhova’s hard work and consistency with the sport paid off, as she was selected by the Dream with the 18th overall pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft. In becoming the first Austrian to play in the WNBA, she is happy that her dream is now a reality.