National Girls and Women in Sports Day Q&A with Liberty Basketball Operations Staff

In honor of National Girls & Women in Sports Day, NYLiberty.com spoke with some of the team’s basketball operations staff - Head Athletic Trainer/Manager Lisa White, Assistant General Manager Jill Culbertson, Assistant Coach and West Coast Scout Monique Ambers, and Assistant Coach and East Coast Scout Lady Grooms - about being a woman in sports.

NYLiberty.com: What inspired you to play basketball?

Lady Grooms: My uncle inspired me to play. My Uncle Ronald was a baller and always allowed me to hang with him as he went from court to court to play ball. Eventually, I got to play with them and it was a love I never wanted to let go. Basketball was my first love.

Monique Ambers: I was always competitive when I was young. We played every sport, girls against boys. When it came to basketball, the boys beat us really bad, so I decided I really needed to learn how to play. So a group of us got a team together and my friend's dad was the coach.

NYLiberty.com: Who was your idol (athlete) growing up? Why?

Jill Culbertson: When it comes to the most influential athlete in my life, it would have to be Ruthie Bolton. The opportunity to have one of the inaugural WNBA teams in my backyard (Sacramento Monarchs) was an amazing experience, and I was fortunate enough to meet Ruthie at a basketball clinic I attended. From that day forward, my love for basketball and the WNBA only escalated, and Ruthie and I remain good friends to this day. It was inspirational to be able to watch the league develop and grow. Seeing these women get the opportunity to play in a professional league in the United States gave them an opportunity to have great influence on young girls' lives.

NYLiberty.com: What has sports given you? How did it affect your life?

Ambers: Growing up I was always really shy because of my height. When I started playing sports, I began to feel comfortable in my own skin. Athletics gave me the confidence I needed to be able to stand proud and wear my height well.

Grooms: Sports gave me self esteem at a young age. Girls would pick on me because I loved sports and because I was so good. Their mean spirit never bothered me because my mother would tell me that they were jealous. So I would continue to play and have fun... then when I got involved in team sports, I was in heaven! Team ball established my commitment to hard work and to do my part always to be a part of a team gave me my character... I learned to be a leader through sports and that no one is bigger than a team, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” - C.S.Lewis

Lisa White: Being involved with sports has taught me discipline, hard work, how to work and get along with people, and time management. All these qualities are used in everyday life so it gave me a great foundation.

NYLiberty.com: Is there anything I like to say to young women in sports?

Culbertson: I think the biggest thing for young women to know is anything is possible. Sports are so healthy to get involved with, not only for the actual health aspect but also learning to be a team player and interact with others. Not everyone will make it to compete in college and even fewer will play in the WNBA, but all young women have the opportunity to participate and embrace the experience. There are so many different sports and business opportunities that young girls now have the chance to participate in, so pick your passion and enjoy!

Ambers: I think sports are a great platform for young women to grow into confident women. You learn so much about yourself while having fun doing it.

Grooms: Yes! Play sports! Play it hard! Dream big! There is no limit for young ladies now! You can do and be anything you want and sports build character, perseverance, determination, and commitment to fulfill a goal or dream… sports has made me who I am and I encourage all the young women to be a part of the team!

White: Listen and learn as much as you can from your parents, coaches and teachers. They all have great experiences that they are willing to share and you should try to absorb all of it. You never know what the future holds so it is important to gather as much information and experience as you can.