February 2008

Thursday, Feb. 28 - Greg Bibb checks in.

Welcome to my final entry for February, 2008. Hello March, welcome Spring, and come on season! Here’s what’s on my mind today…

Beard Is Back

On Monday, we announced the re-signing of Alana Beard. With the new contact, Alana will be wearing a Mystics uniform for at least the next four years. She is our unquestioned leader on and off the court and her game is only surpassed by her character. We are thrilled to have her back and look forward to watching her play for the home team.

Sanford Too!

Late last week, we matched the offer the Minnesota Lynx made to then restricted free agent Nakia Sanford. Thus, Nakia, our dominant inside force, signed a three-year contract. I’m excited to have Nakia back as I think she is an emerging star in the WNBA. Have Beard and Sanford under contract and together for a minimum of the next three years bodes well for our future.

Thank You, Khadijah

Last Friday, the Mystics held a season ticket influence event, hosted by Khadijah Tribble. A great time was had by all in attendance, including yours truly. I enjoy having the opportunity to meet so many of our loyal fans. The food from the DC eatery Matchbox was also very good. Remember, if you are interested in hosting an influencer event, contact us at 1-877-DCHOOP1.

Checking Out George’s Crib

On Saturday, Tara and I toured the White House. Amazingly, despite growing up just two hours from Washington and having visited the city on numerous field trips and family treks, I had never been inside the presidential digs. As a history buff, I had a great time touring our country’s most famous residence. If you haven’t been there, take a few hours and make the visit. You can book a tour through your congressman or senator.

Checking In On the College Ranks

I watched the UConn-LSU game on Monday night and two things stood out. First, Sylvia Fowles is good, really good. In fact, she is probably going to be the best #2 pick (behind Candice Parker) since Alana Beard hit Washington in 2004. Second, Maya Moore is the best frosh I have seen play the game in a long, long time. On the road, in a hostile environment, against a very, very good team, she took over and led the Huskies to victory. We’ll see her in our League in a few years, guaranteed.

Construction Update

We are now in week three of our office build-out project and I’m happy to report progress is regular and swift. The majority of the HVAC work is complete, the walls have all been framed, and the drywall process has started. We are still on schedule for an April 15 move-in date, which puts us a little less than seven weeks away from moving into our new home!

Congrats to the Turtle

A round of applause to the University of Maryland’s women’s basketball program on a couple fronts this week. First, to head coach Brenda Frese on the birth of her twins. Second, to Crystal Langhorne for becoming the first lady Terp to have her number retired prior to graduation. Finally, to the team as a whole, for finishing the regular season undefeated at home.

Website of the Week

Ok, I’ll admit it … I’m a bit of a neat freak. If you join me in this insanity, I highly recommend you check out Unclutterer.com. Here you will find tips, strategies, product reviews, and more to help you get organized, stay organized, and, if you are like me, feed your obsessive compulsive disorder! Likewise, if you are in need of organizational help, or if you find yourself to be a bit of a pack rat, check it out. After all, this is the site that treats the saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place” as gospel. Enjoy!

Quote of the Week

“Always remember…your reputation walks in the room before you do.”

Final (and sometimes random) Thoughts

• Saturday’s Tennessee-Memphis was one of the best college games I have seen in a long, long time. Then Vanderbilt turns around and beats Tennessee. What’s up with college b-ball in the volunteer state this year? Amazing.

• How impressive is the NFL…just think about the coverage the league’s scouting combine is receiving. Again, we’re talking about the scouting combine. Crazy.

• Why isn’t anyone talking about the Utah Jazz? Here’s a team that as of Wednesday was 36-21 overall, fourth best in the NBA’s Western Conference. The Jazz have won seven of the team’s last 10 and have gone 21-14 against same-conference opponents. Write it down…Utah will make noise in the playoffs.

• Daylight savings time begins a week from Sunday!

• Training camp tips-off in 52 days…do you BELIEVE?

Until next time,

Go Mystics!

Wednesday, Feb. 27 - Ketsia Colimon talks about babies, fitness and Oscar.

Hello Mystics fans!

Hope all is well in your world. Let me first start by updating our loyal readers of what has been going on in my life. Actually, not much  but, last time I checked in, I mentioned the impending birth of my nephew, Sam. Well, he is still not here! But according to the doctor, Sam is going to be a gigantic baby. We are talking ten pounds!! (Or 2 Freese-Thomas babies). I am frankly speechless at the thought!!! But I promise to keep you updated when he finally makes his arrival….

So for the past two months, I have been on a health kick. I must say this phase is lasting much longer than the last million ones I have been on. This is courtesy of my trainer, Solomon. Last year, I made the commitment to not work out and somehow the pounds just started piling on. This year, new commitment: healthy living. When Solomon and I met, I provided him with a list of exercises that I DON’T do (running, lunges, push ups) because I believe that if I don’t like them, well it just won’t work. He kindly smiled and nodded and went to work.

Honestly, I wish there had been a camera on me. The first few weeks, I thought he was going to fire me as his client. I took forever between sets and needed so many water breaks that he would say, in the nicest voice, “Come on lets go.” That whole yelling does not work with me and I am so glad he picked up on that immediately.

Well, I am proud to report that I have turned a corner. I now have muscles that would make Alana Beard jealous. I mean, I can make a muscle with my left arm but the right one, not so much…working on it though.

What else is going? We had the Oscars Sunday and in my best Joan Rivers (minus the plastic surgery) imitation….thumbs up to Jennifer Garner’s dress (Go see Juno), but that Tilda Swenson (VELVET????) was a major no-no in my book. So please, when given a choice, just say no to velvet…actually don’t wait for the choice, just don’t do velvet. Ever!

Cashmere Mafia is my new favorite show, yes the reviews are not the best, but Eboni and I, LOVE this show. The clothes are fabulous and we think Zoe kicks butt. If you are looking for mindless fun, check it out.

Ok, that is it for me today; hopefully next time we speak, I will be Aunt Ketsia, so fingers crossed.

Be good

K

Tuesday, Feb. 26 - Linda Hargrove checks in.

Hey All ...

I’ve been in DC the past couple of days and it has really been good. Watching Maryland’s valiant comeback Sunday against Florida State was really impressive and the emotional ceremony at the end of the game honoring Crystal Langhorne’s achievements was very special. I really like this Maryland team and feel they will be a force come March. The crowd at the Comcast Center was intense and loud. What a great atmosphere for a basketball game.

I honestly don’t think there is a trainer in the WNBA that is as good or works as hard as our Navin. I watched him work with Alana last night and he is just the best. We have two players coming off knee surgery in the off season and I just have so much confidence in Navin having them ready to go. And I was so relieved watching Alana working. She looks really good and I expect her to have her best year ever in 2008.

Yesterday was Monique’s birthday and she scored 45 points for her Russian team. Too bad she doesn’t have a birthday during the Mystics season.

I toured the new Mystics office space in the Verizon Center yesterday and I think for the first time we will have a real home; one that is all ours, is classy, spacious and just special. Sheila Johnson is the reason we will have this space and Greg Bibb has done an outstanding job putting it all together. Move in date is scheduled for April 15 and I can’t wait. I’m sure there is an open house on the horizon.

My granddaughters, Brynn, 6, and Halle, 5, finished their basketball season this past week. Brynn’s team went undefeated and Halle’s team lost one game to Brynn’s team by 1 point. They both wave just a little too often to their grandparents, but they improved so much and really had a lot of fun. My grandson, Jacob, also finished his basketball season this week. I love it when he goes to the free throw line and tries so hard not to smile when he knows everyone is watching him.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how I loved watching Michael Beasley play. He is so versatile, left handed and just reminds me of a male version of Alana Beard. Well, after I mentioned this in my blog, it was brought to my attention that when Michael was a freshman in high school he and his friend, Nolan Smith, who is playing for Duke, would come play against the Mystics. I was an assistant then to Michael Adams and I remember Mike saying how special these kids were going to be. Boy, was he right about that.

Just a few games to go before the conference tournaments begin. This is such a busy time as we try to put finishing touches on the makeup of our team, get our unsigned players signed and prepare for the draft. All our coaches will be out to evaluate and will be working hard to bring the best product possible to Washington this summer.

See you in a gym,

Linda

Monday, Feb. 25 - Megan Burda talks about her weather woes.

Well, what can I say, let the sun start shining! I¡¦m pretty sure last week this time I was outside in my t-shirt enjoying the warm weather. But lately, I have been waking up to frost, an icy car, and slippery sidewalks. What is going on?! One thing for sure, Baltimore and DC do not correlate weather patterns at all. It could be icing, raining or whatever else has been going on in Baltimore, but by the time my cross country venture into DC arrives, I feel as though I have entered a different part of the US. So weird.

As I sit here in my long sleeved, sweater turtle neck facing my computer with the Hawaiian beach back drop, I can only hope to be warm and tanning on the beach. Along with not having to walk outside and worry about slipping on the ice or having my hands freeze as I reach for my car door handle. I think I bring bad luck upon myself in the winter. I have many facts on why I am starting to believe this to be true.

For one, last year, I was on my way to work and out of my apartment, it had sleeted the night before but nothing major. Sure enough, I walk outside; feet fly out from under me, and shatter my elbow. No lie. Bam. Done. There goes the elbow. Another reason why I believe bad luck strikes me in these furious months: I have wrecked 2 cars driving in the snow?! (And no, they have not been my faultļ) These two incidents have in return made me petrified to drive in anything but the blazing sun. Ask Maria, if it starts precipitating; rain, sleet, snow, at any amount, I start freaking out seeing how my plan of escape is going to pan out.

With this being said, I now know, as well as the rest of the staff here in office, why I love and adore the beach so much. I truly think that when I ¡¥grow up¡¦, my husband and I should move south, west, or just plain to a tropical island and live it well under the sun with our feet in the sand.

As we all know, finding that husband is well off the radar scale so I guess my beach style lifestyle may be put on the back burner for a while. Ha. Until he is found and the beach bungalow is in the process of being built in Hawaii, I will be here awaiting to hear from all you and hopefully see you all out this season! Thanks for stopping in and hearing about the wintry adventures/struggles/ and long awaited sunshine.

Until next time, Go Mystics!

Friday, Feb. 22 - Sheila Johnson checks in.

By now, you probably know of our unfulfilled plans for a trip to India on behalf of CARE. Accompanying me was to be, among others, the Mystics own Alana Beard. But unfortunately, above Germany, on our way to Dubai, our jet developed some mechanical problems and we had to make an emergency landing.

The situation caused us to have to file new paperwork for entry into India, which we subsequently learned, would then delay our arrival a number of days. Given that, we decided to come home instead of waiting in a hotel in Germany for the bureaucratic red tape to sort itself out.

But what was remarkable about the trip was our emergency landing. While there was no panic on the plane, I can assure you there were some uneasy moments for most of us; especially as the fire trucks and the other emergency vehicles started lining up on either side of the runway, their blue lights flashing in anticipation of having to spring into action.

I say it was remarkable because of all the people on board there was no one with any greater sense of calm than Alana. While the rest of us looked out our windows and the runway, the lights and the vehicles, Alana quietly sat there; her feet stretched out on the seat adjacent her and her head buried in a magazine she was reading.

As I watched her I realized Alana Beard is fearless. She has a grace under pressure that only the best of the best in any field ever exhibit. And while such grace is not specific to athletes, it is most visible on the court or the field because professional athletes do their jobs, not in a cubicle or a corner office, but in front of thousands, and sometimes millions, of fans.

When we finally landed and we started talking about the experience, I remember Alana started laughing. She found our concern amusing, and told us that she was never once worried.

I guess that’s the one of the biggest differences between a world-class athlete and most other people. The game – and I guess life itself – slows down for them at the very moment its speeding up for the rest of us.

I am proud to call Alana a Mystic. I don’t care what the battlefield is. If my back is against the wall, give me a handful of Alana Beards and I’ll take on the world.

One other item I’d like to touch on briefly here, and one about which I’ll write more in my next entry. This past year I came to appreciate the power of film and the impact that a well-told story can have on people. For that reason I started to produce documentary films that throw light on issues that have long been close to my heart.

One of those films, “Kicking It,” which was executive produced by my partner Ted Leonsis, made its debut last month at the storied Sundance Film Festival. “Kicking It” tells the story of the 2007 Homeless World Cup soccer championship, and became one of the best received films at this year’s festival. In fact, ESPN bought its distribution rights and should air it at some point in 2008.

Meanwhile, a second film I produced, “A Powerful Noise,” is currently in competition for a slot in the prestigious TriBeCa Film Festival in New York. We should know soon about its fate, and I promise you – especially given the fact the movie is about three very special women, each of whom has an indomitable spirit – I will write more about this film in a future blog.

Until then.

Thursday, Feb. 21 - Greg Bibb welcomes Spring and all that comes with it.

Looking for something to celebrate? How about the fact Spring starts in exactly four weeks from today!

Here’s what’s on my mind this 21st day of February, 2008…

Free Agent Frenzy

Monday marked the official start to the free agent signing period in the WNBA. As a result, you’ll continue to see a flurry of activity as teams compete to sign coveted unrestricted free agents. In addition, teams will make offers to a second group of players who are restricted free agents. The teams which own these players rights will then have five days to match the new team’s offer. I expect the Mystics to be in the fray on a couple of recognizable names from both lists. Stay tuned.

Trade Winds

Along with the pending free agent movement, there have been several notable player trades in the WNBA this week. Katie Douglas’ arrival in Indiana and Swin Cash’s move to Seattle highlight these deals. My hunch is there’s more to come on the trade front. Time will tell.

Big Week for the Mystics MVP Club

Our amazing volunteer sales group is hosting an influencer event this Friday, compliments of Khadijah Tribble. If you would like to attend, drop me a note. To date, the MVPs have enlisted 24 members and produced 47 season tickets. Congrats and thank you!

A New Title for a Familiar Face

Speaking of the Mystics MVP Club, this dynamic group’s in-house leader and long-time Mystics staffer, Nicole Boden, has a new title. Boden, a five-year veteran of the organization, is now the team’s Director of Community Relations. This title better reflects the focus of Nicole’s work, which includes the Mystics MVPs, the launch of the team’s Kids’ Club, the activation of Mystics community relations initiatives, and the oversight of the Mystics Foundation. Congrats Nicole!

Back To Motown

This past weekend I returned to Detroit to catch an Ignition soccer game, check on our home (which is still on the market) and visit with some old friends. As you may know, I worked for the Ignition and lived in Michigan for two years prior to coming to the Mystics. It was great seeing so many friends, colleagues, and former co-workers. A special thank you to Dave Deal and Bryan “Moose” Koch who traveled from Philadelphia and Milwaukee respectively to spend some time with me in the Motor City. The Ignition, by the way, earned a big victory and now boasts a 13-7 record in the team’s second season of play.

Celebrating George

Monday was Presidents Day, so Adelyn, Tara, and I headed to Alexandria for the city’s annual parade honoring George Washington. We had a great time walking the streets of Old Town while taking in a nice parade. The fact that the weather was an amazing 70 degrees for most of the afternoon was an added bonus. We saw fire trucks, clowns, police cars, marching bands, enlisted personnel, veterans, and classic cars. President Washington’s friend, Abraham Lincoln, event took part in the celebration.

Website of the Week

If you are relatively new to the area (like my family), or perhaps even if you’re not, the website, GoDCGo.com is a great resource. Here readers can gather information on D.C. public transit, parking and practically anything involving getting from point A to point B within our nation’s capital. The site also includes maps as well as info on tours and special events. This site is a great resource for Washington rookies and veterans alike.

Quote of the Week

“Managers fight fires…leaders ignite fires.”

Final (and sometimes random) Thoughts

• Marty Lerner, the Mystics new Director of Corporate Partnerships, officially started with the team on Tuesday after relocating from St. Louis. Welcome to Washington, D.C. Marty!

• Another senseless tragedy at an American institution of higher learning, this time Northern Illinois University. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ family and friends as well as the NIU community.

• It’s hard to believe, but it has been 25 years since the release of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Despite all of the bizarre events surrounding the one-time King of Pop, this album is still the single best of all-time in my book. Seven number one hits and the record’s place atop the charts for over 30 weeks support my argument.

• The Oscars take place in Los Angeles this Sunday. Unfortunately, I have not seen a movie since July…my daughter was born on August 5…therefore, I have no idea who is going to win…makes for more exciting television, I guess!

• Training camp tips-off in 59 days…do you BELIEVE?

Until next time,

Go Mystics!

Wednesday, Feb. 20 - Nicole Boden and Arizona Athletics: A match made in heaven.

There are always such wonderful things happening for me in March and this March is no different. I’m going on vacation, spring is that much closer, and it’s my 27th birthday. How can I forget the most important event, March Madness. There’s nothing like filling out the tournament bracket and advancing Arizona through no matter what kind of season we are having.

I must tell you, there are certain things that I love in life, my family, my friends, my dog Charlie and then there’s the University of Arizona athletics. There’s no greater place to me then Tucson, Arizona. (Those of you who have been there may disagree). Some may ask how a girl from Fairfax, Virginia ended up in Tucson, Arizona of all places. It was after watching the 1997 Men’s NCAA Tournament when Arizona beat Kentucky to win the National Championship that Arizona peaked my interest (Miles Simon and Mike Bibby may have had something to do with it). So when it came time to pick a school I thought I would just go check it out. My dad reluctantly agreed but definitely wasn’t keen on the idea of his only child moving 3,000 miles to the middle of the desert. So as we walked the campus in the middle of 100 degree weather (my dad still claims he got heat stroke) and then through a monsoon (the only time the desert actually gets rain), I just fell in love.

So as we approach March, I must share my Final Four experience in 2001. I was working in the athletic department with my friends Naomi, Sarah and Catherine (the only girls that love Arizona as much as I do) and we decided the morning of selection day Sunday that we would buy our plane ticket to Minneapolis, the site of the Final Four. We were taking a chance because we had no clue who we were playing in the tournament, we just knew Arizona was going to the tournament. Our starting five was Gilbert Arenas, Jason Gardner, Luke Walton, Richard Jefferson and Loren Woods, arguably the best starting five ever. In the Elite 8 we were playing Illinois and towards the end of the game we were tied for what seemed to be an eternity. We won the game and we were on our way to the final four. The local NBC affiliate thought we were either really smart for doing all this early or really stupid. They interviewed us right before we left for our trip and then once we got to Minneapolis.

It was Arizona, Duke, Maryland and Michigan State in the Final Four. Duke beat Maryland and we beat Michigan State (on my birthday) to advance to the Championship game. I was three rows back during the Championship game and yet the game is still a blur to me. It’s as if at one point I just passed out. My emotions were on another level. Needless to say Arizona was robbed of a Championship. I won’t say Duke had help from the referees but there was a great picture going around after the game of Jason Williams in the arms of a ref with money in both their hands. For some reason there were Duke fans in our section and my friend Catherine, the sweetest girl in the world who would never hurt a fly, punched a Duke fan in the face. Not only did we just lose the game but we were then escorted out of the arena.

So as we get ready for the NCAA Tournament, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the WNBA Finals, the Olympics, whatever sporting event it may be, there’s always an Arizona athlete you can root for. Jennie Finch, Lorena Ochoa, Tedi Bruschi, Lance Briggs, Amanda Beard, Annika Sorenstam, Brenda Freese are just some of the athletes that have made an impact on Arizona athletics.

So remember to add Arizona men’s and women’s basketball team to your bracket and keep them going all the way to the Final Four. You know I will!!

Bear Down!!

Tuesday, Feb. 19 - Linda Hargrove talks about the upcoming action in the WNBA.

Hey All ...

This is really a busy time for us. We could send out qualifying offers and core designations from February 6-11 and begin negotiating with players on February 12, restricted free agents can sign offer sheets today and we will know whether their home teams match the offers within five days. We have been very active in the free agent market and hope to have some positive news for Mystics fans very soon. From everything that I have heard there will be some major changes happening. Stay tuned.

Gillian Goring has been in DC the past several days working out with our trainer, Navin Hettiarachchi. She had micro-fracture surgery while in Turkey and we have been very concerned about her. She has lost weight and is working hard to get back on the floor for the Mystics. We feel that Gillian has a chance to be a very good player in the league and hate the fact that she was injured during her first chance to really work on her game overseas. Our medical staff was happy with the way her knee looks and a lot of hard work could put her in a good position as we head into training camp.

I went to Tennessee over the weekend to see Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky play. It was a great game and featured two of the best that will be in the draft in Amber Holt and Crystal Kelly. I have decided that I need to go back to Nashville and spend some time there. It is sad to just fly in somewhere, jump in a rental car, watch a game, jump back in the rental car and fly out. It was really pretty country and the hospitality was terrific.

So Coach Frese is now the mother of twin boys. I'm so happy for her and the entire Maryland family. I will be at the game Sunday against Florida State University. Hope to see many of you there.

See you in a gym.

Linda

Friday, Feb. 15 - Michael Druker, Mystics intern, reflects on Hurricane Katrina and the upcoming NBA All-Star Game.

It is still a vivid memory in many minds, the horrors of Katrina and the images of broken down New Orleans. It was one of the most terrible events to ever happen in America. I remember the sorrow of my friends and family. We had no family in New Orleans, but being from New York, we had experienced 9/11 and knew of the sadness of such a dark event. But finally as the hurricane and storms came to an end, I began to see a pride from the American people that had not been seen since the tragic event in New York. People of all kinds were sending aid to New Orleans, whether in monetary form or by getting down there and helping with the cleanup and rebuild. It is sad to think that it usually takes something horrific to happen to us Americans to unite us for a cause. And while some people have already taken Katrina out of their minds, many have kept their efforts up, still going to New Orleans when they can, still sending aid to the people that have been without homes.

The NBA will be hosting the NBA All Star Weekend starting tonight in New Orleans. The NBA has made a strong effort all year to promote the fact that the best of the best will be performing in the city that was hit by Katrina. I commend the NBA’s efforts to continue to raise awareness about the problems that are still happening in New Orleans. And so, if you find that you are taking it easy this weekend, take some time to watch some magnificent athletes perform on a stage where many people are still in need of much help.

Thursday, Feb. 14 - Greg Bibb wishes all of the Mystics fans a Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope each of you has plans with a special someone on this holiday. Therefore, I ask that you give this space a quick read and then go spend time with a loved one. Here’s what’s on my mind this 14th of February, 2008.

Mystics MVPs Keep On Rolling

Our volunteer sales force, the Mystics MVPs, continue to post impressive results. Led by Mystics Director of Community Relations, Nicole Boden, this group of diehard fans has now sold 44 new season tickets! Congrats to all involved. For those of you who might be interested in joining this dynamic group, the next meeting is scheduled for Friday, February 22. Contact Nicole at 202-266-2228 to sign-up!

College B-Ball Viewing Party

Monday night the Mystics staff was joined by current and prospective season ticket holders for a fun evening of college basketball viewing at the ESPN Zone in the District. We had a great time watching Tennessee and Rutgers battle while conversing about the WNBA and the upcoming season. It was wonderful seeing so many dedicated Mystics fans participate. Thanks for coming!

Addy and The Caps

On Sunday, Adelyn hosted her family and friends at Verizon Center for a Capitals-Rangers game. The home team won in overtime, but even more importantly, we had the chance to share some quality time with over 20 relatives. Great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends all had a good time as Adelyn played the role of the perfect host.

The Mystics New Home Update (Part One)

I’m thrilled to report construction on our new offices in Verizon Center has officially begun. If the construction schedule holds true, we’ll be enjoying our new digs by the second week in April. We’ll have some sort of open house shortly after moving in to share our new space with all of you. Stay tuned.

The Mystics New Home Update (Part Two)

I’m equally pleased to announce The Park at Arlington Ridge will serve as the new home of the Mystics players. The staff and crew at “The Park” have been great to work with and we are extremely proud as an organization to offer such a wonderful home for our talented young women. I would like to welcome everyone within The Park’s organization to the Mystics family.

Quote of the Week

“Our reach must always exceed our grasp.”

Website of the Week

If you are like me, then you may have some culinary challenges to overcome. The good news…I have found help. Visit StartCooking.com. This site is a great resource for tackling very basic cooking techniques. The former home economics teacher who started and manages the site even demonstrates how to crack an egg! Yes, to the masses this may seem silly, but if you share my poor culinary abilities, this type of information is much appreciated. Remember, not every meal has to be made outside of the home. Check it out!

Final (and sometimes random) Thoughts

• Mystics post player Gillian Goring joined us at the ESPN Zone on Monday. Gillian, who is rehabbing a knee surgery, looked great. We are excited to see how she progresses during her second year as a pro.

• I think the Shaq trade to the Phoenix Suns is one of the more intriguing ones in recent NBA history. It will be interesting to see if he can adjust to the Suns up-tempo style of play.

• I told you so…the Marist College Lady Red Foxes are now ranked #25 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Marist is 23-2 overall, 13-0 in MACC play, and riding a 13-game winning streak!

• As reported last week, I went to a viewing of Ted Leonsis’ film, Nanking, last Thursday night. Do yourself a favor and go see this movie. It is powerful, moving, and documents the unbelievable heroics of a small group of people who should never be forgotten.

• Less than 10 weeks until the start of training camp! Go Mystics!

Until next time,

Go Mystics!

Wednesday, Feb. 13 - Mikhail Ovechkin talks about Russian food in the USA.

Have you ever been to a Russian restaurant in the United States? I'm sure that most foreigners living abroad would agree that finding splendid cuisine from your homeland can be a challenge. For those of you seeking great Eastern European cuisine in D.C., I'm afraid to report that it doesn't exist. Believe me, I've looked.

However, if you find yourself in the Big Apple taking in a Liberty game at MSG, I would strongly recommend a trip to the Russian Tea Room. The level of service in the restaurant is exceptional, as is the food. The Russian salads, traditionally using potatoes instead of lettuce, were fabulous especially accompanied by a bowl of borscht, a traditional Russian beet soup. For those of you fond of caviar and vodka, the Russian Tea Room will be worth the trip. It is an upscale restaurant, so you must dress for the occasion. No jeans, no tennis shoes.

In Russia, it is equally hard to find quality American restaurants. While living in Russia, some American players had great difficulty adjusting to Russian food, which is very different than traditional American fare. Players need some time to adjust but they must eventually get used to a different style of eating, especially when they will be spending 8 months or more in Russia.

Tuesday, Feb. 12 - Linda Hargrove talks about technology, the weather and basketball.

Hey All ...

OK, so we know that I am a bit challenged in the technology department but it is pretty bad when I'm reluctant to get a new phone. For the past couple of months my phone has not been terribly reliable. It has a tendency to just turn itself off and I wouldn't know it was off until it decided to turn itself on. Well, yesterday I broke down and got a new phone but my anxiety is still high, can I follow the instructions from the CD and get everything transferred? My IT guy is in DC and I'm in Wichita, who will help me when I get stuck or make a mistake? My phone, computer and somewhere to watch games are tools in my business that I must have. My heart is beating too fast this morning just thinking about how to make this work. Wish me luck, I know that I will need it.

How many of you felt Rutgers got robbed last night in Tennessee? The part I don't understand is if the officials go to the monitor to check the time at the end of the game, can't they see that the clock stopped at .2 seconds, before the whistle was blown? It was such an incredible comeback by the Scarlet Knights and to have the outcome determined when the clock malfunctioned just didn't seem right. Candace Parker dominated in the first half but once the Rutgers defense kicked in, Tennessee really struggled to score. Back to back 3's by Shannon Bobbitt and Angie Bjorklund gave the Lady Vols a chance and they took advantage of the opportunity. But I, at least, feel really bad for Rutgers. They should have won.

My husband, Ed, begins his 24th season of coaching softball today at Cowley County Community College. It is amazing that he has stayed at one school, the one where he played football, all of this time. Last year he was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame. He has over 800 wins and is currently listed # 2 on the list nationally for most wins. He should move into first after this season. The high temperature today in Kansas is to be around 40degrees. You don't appreciate coaching or being involved with an indoor sport until you have lived with someone who must depend on the weather in Kansas. This should be a great year for the Tigers. Maybe, a good one to retire on?

Today we can begin negotiating contracts with our players and see how we might fit into the free agent market. If the CBA had only allowed one core designation this year there would be a lot of unrestricted free agents available. But that rule will kick in next year so it does not work much to our advantage. But we are very optimistic that players want to play in DC and will be working hard to attract some additional talent.

See you in a gym,

Linda

Monday, Feb. 11 - Assistant Coach Jessie Kenlaw talks about why she came to the Mystics.

HELLO MYSTICS FANS!

First on the agenda is to let you know how excited I am to be a part of the Mystics Family! Second, is to let you know that writing does not rank high on my favorite things to do list. This is my first blog and a challenge indeed. I learned many years ago that we should welcome new challenges, even if it takes us out of our comfort zone, so here goes.

I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you a little about myself, as well as why I decided to join the Mystics. Some of you may have seen me on the sidelines with other WNBA teams, as I am no stranger to the league. I am starting my ninth season. (3 with Portland, 4 with Seattle, 1with Houston).

Why the Mystics? 1. Championship Potential! (Yes I said it!). 2. The positive and powerful leadership of “Dr. J.” (I’m told that everyone refers to Sheila Johnson as the great Dr. J). I am impressed with her leadership style and her mission to empower young girls and women, in which I am 110% on board!

3. The knowledgeable and experienced GM, Linda Hargrove. Linda is one of the most genuine and unique people I’ve met in my lifetime. 4. NBA great, Tree Rollins. Tree’s 18 plus years, both as a player and coach in the NBA are quite impressive. I look forward to learning from him, and assisting with the implementation of his philosophy and winning strategies. 5. Crystal Robinson was a player on our roster in the ABL. She has always been passionate about the game, mature beyond her years, as well as a coach on the floor. She will be an excellent Head Coaching candidate in the future.

From a talent perspective, I believe the Mystics are close to having what it takes to win a WNBA Championship! As you get to know me, you will learn that I call it as I see it, and I always see the glass half full. At the present, I see it overflowing with potential!

What excites me about our current roster? Glad you asked. As you know, the Seattle Storm won the WNBA Championship in 2004 during my tenure as an Assistant Coach. After comparing and assessing each roster position, I am very optimistic that we can bring a Championship to D.C. I compared Seattle’s starting line-up to our current line-up. Check out the comparisons.

Sue Bird vs.Nikki Teasley – Sue Bird is one of the best Point Guards in the WNBA. She’s smart, crafty, an excellent passer, and a master of the pick and roll. So is Nikki Teasley! As I recall, Teasley led the league in assist in 2006. She can thread the needle and deliver no look pass like no other. She knows the game, and she knows how to run a team, which is one of the key components.

Betty Lennox vs. Alana Beard – Betty is one of the best one-on-one players in the WNBA. She can create off the dribble, get to the free throw line, and shoot the three, rebounds like a post player! Alana Beard has proven that she’s a bad Mamma Jammer! You cannot guard her one on one. She can score, create, rebound, defend, and play anywhere on the perimeter…plus she’s a lefty!!!

Sheri Sam vs. Monique Currie – Sheri was our Steady Eddie! She could shoot the three, rebound, defend, and did whatever was asked of her. Monique Currie can flat out score! She is strong; she has size, and is versatile enough to play two positions which is always a bonus. Monique is capable of delivering a double double every night!

Lauren Jackson vs. Delisha Milton Jones – Lauren is one of the best players in the World! It’s amazing what she can do with her 6’5 frame. Delisha Milton Jones is also the real deal!! Delisha can face up, post up, shoot up, lock you down, rebound, and play multiple positions! Need I say more???? The girl is BADD!

Kamila Vodichkova vs. Nakia Sanford – Kamila was strong, active, and versatile. Nakia is stronger, active, and athletic, runs the floor, and is a monster on the block! She too is capable of averaging a double double every night!

Subs: Tully Bevilaqua vs. Nikki Blue – Both intense back-up point guards who can deliver! Janel Burse vs. Bernice Mosby/Gillian Goring– All are excellent 12 feet in and capable of dominating inside.

Alicia Thompson vs.Tamara James/Stacy Tolbert – Two words – “Instant Offense!” Can change the tempo of the game. “The X Factors” Coco Miller and Laurie Koehn. Coco is one of the most intense players in the league! Capable of changing the tempo on both ends of the floor. Got to love her work ethic! Laurie Koehn – The Microwave! Can heat up in a hurry! She has proven that she is one of the best three point shooters in the league.

Fan Support – (A KEY COMPONENT) The fans in Seattle were amazing! One night during the play-offs, the fans willed the team to a key victory! I’ve done my homework, and the word is, “The Mystics Fans Are Simply the Best!” What I remember most about the Mystics when I first came into the league is the 20,000 screaming fans in the stands. It was so intimidating! Our goal is to re-create that same type of atmosphere in 2008. Hint! Hint!

There you have it! The Laws of Attraction. The Secret is Out! Winning a WNBA Championship is what the Mystics are about! We’re sending it out to the Universe.

I look forward to seeing everyone very soon!

Expecting to be great!!! 2008!!!

Jessie

Friday, Feb. 8 - Sarah Novak talks about the joys of moving.

I am in the process of moving into a new house. It is close to our new offices, on top of the Ballston Mall. I will no longer have to sit in the parking lot known as 395N. However with all of the transition, there is always either an enlightenment of starting a new path or resentment for moving on. You see this all the time with relationships, changing jobs, and of course moving. I am not a stranger to moving, growing up my mother and I moved around Arizona like two nomads until I was 13. At that time she moved me back to my hometown of Wellsville, Ohio. No lie, a two-street light town where everyone knows everyone and my family is everyone. I guess that is another reason why I do not view moving as a sad time. I see it as new chapters.

My travels have taken me from Cleveland Ohio (for those of you that have been there, you can call it the Mistake on the Lake); Wheeling, West Virginia (GO Mountaineers); Greensboro, North Carolina and before I made my journey to the District, all the way to Pensacola, Florida. This Yankee does not recommend Florida. With that I always see moving as a time of enlightenment and excitement. Each time packing up my car and setting off for another journey to a place for me to plant some roots, preferably a place that has more than two-street lights. For those of you that have met me and for those of you that will meet me, I am always full of energy and spunk. I find this time to be almost euphoric.

Living in the district since October of 2006, it has taken me almost a full year to establish a great friendship base. It has been one of the hardest things to establish since I have been here. Coming from a very large Italian, extended family, it is very important to me, especially when the closest family member is six hour away. That is why I believe that this move is euphoric because I am moving in with two of my friends. I am not moving in with some person that I meet off of Craigslist or a friend of a buddy that he knows from his cousin. I am actually moving in with people that know me. They know that I am a bundle of energy all of the time and they accept that. They know when I need to have my Sex & the city time and when a bottle of wine is necessary. Here is to great transitions and new memories!

Thursday, Feb. 7 - Greg Bibb talks sports.

Welcome back to my little corner of cyberspace. Today is February 7, 2008. For those of you keeping track, we are just 73 days away from the opening of training camp and 77 days away from showing our friends at DC 101 just how good a women’s basketball team can be. Speaking of which, here’s what’s on my mind on this lovely winter day…

Q & A Session

After last week’s announcement of our April 24 game vs. the Elliot in the Morning crew, I received a couple of questions from our fans…

Question #1: Will the 25-point mercy rule be in effect?
Answer: No, we want the game to last longer than 10 minutes.

Question #2: What staff will suit up to take over for Mystics players once the lead reaches 25 points?
Answer: We’ll be keeping the players in…remember, we’re proving a point here.

Question #3: Will we talk trash?
Answer: Nope, we’ll let that up to the experts (our opponents). We’ll focus on taking care of business.

Thanks for your questions…keep them coming!

Atlanta Expansion Draft

Congrats to the Atlanta Dream and Head Coach/GM Marynell Meadors on the club’s successful expansion draft. I think Marynell did a great job in the draft and related trades and I think the Dream will be a very competitive team from day one. While it is disappointing to lose Yelena Leuchenka, hopefully this short term local loss will reap a long term League wide reward…on and off-court success for the Atlanta franchise. Good luck to the Dream!

A New Super Bowl Experience

As a 34-year old, I thought I had experienced all types of Super Bowl parties…big ones, small ones, rowdy ones, and quiet ones. This thought, however, was blown out of the water on Sunday when Tara, Adelyn and I were invited to a party in which there were four families, all with babies. Moreover, Addy was the old lady of the group! Sunday night was just another reminder of how life has changed for Tara and I. Missing part of the game to go get a drink or something to eat has been replaced by missing the action for a diaper change. Nonetheless, we had a great time and will certainly remember Addy’s first Super Bowl party.

Island Hopping

Before the Super Bowl party, we took advantage of the nice weather on Sunday afternoon to explore Roosevelt Island. We had a great time walking the island, visiting the Teddy Roosevelt monument, and enjoying the warm weather. Of course, Adelyn probably will have to go back to really appreciate the scenery as the she enjoyed a Sunday afternoon snooze for most of the trip. Anyway, if you haven’t been there, check it out.

Volunteer Sales Team Update

Our talented volunteer sales team has been busy during the last week. This team of unbelievably dedicated fans has already notched 36 new season tickets! Congratulations to this group and thank you for your work on our behalf.

Quote of the Week

“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.”

Website of the Week

Valentine’s Day is just a week away and if you are late in making a gift purchase check out PersonalizationMall.com. Thanks for the heads up Sheila Robinson. Here you can get just about anything you can imagine personalized to send to your special someone. This site is also good for bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays, and anniversaries. Happy shopping.

Final (and sometimes random) Thoughts

• Wow, was I wrong about the Super Bowl. Congratulations G-Men. Coach Belichick…the game’s not over until the clock hits zero.

• Bob Knight has retired. Like him or hate him, there’s no denying he could coach. His record leaves little doubt. It’s the end of a very definitive era.

• The Marist College Lady Red Foxes continue to roll…now 21-2 overall, 11-0 in the MAAC. A Top 25 ranking is on the horizon.

• I’m going to see the Ted Leonsis-produced Nanking tonight. I’m looking forward to the screening of this highly regarded documentary. More next week.

• Now that the WNBA CBA is resolved, get ready for plenty of player movement. The window from now until the draft will be fun, exciting and busy.

Until next time,

Go Mystics!

Wednesday, Feb. 6 - Mystics intern, Michael Druker, shares with us the importance of being a fan.

Although it is already midweek, I find it necessary to reflect on the event that 97.5 million people watched this past Sunday. The Super Bowl is usually a competitive event between the two top conference teams where both teams are highly recognized as the best in the NFL. For the past two weeks, America was fed statistics, predictions, and even some guarantees that there was only one great team in the NFL finale. But when it was all said and done, the team that no one thought had a chance to win came out victoriously with play that was solely based off of hard work. The New York Giants were a true underdog, even greater than the 10-point spread Vegas placed on New England to win it (especially since the spread were deflated because of the mass amount of New Yorkers/Giants fans betting on the game.) Every fan of professional sports can appreciate the story of the New York Giants, even if the words “New York” stand in the way. And so I say, the better team won and hooray for the 2008 Super Bowl Champs.

However, watching the Super Bowl made me realize the importance of being a fan. A sports fan is a highly enthusiastic devotee of a team, player, or organization. Let’s be honest, no team wins every year and if this NFL season proved anything, it proved that perfection is just not humanly. But should losing turn us off as fans of the game? Should we be disloyal to the teams that we cheer for year-in and year-out just because the team’s hard work does not pay off in the end?

ABSOLUTELY NOT! Fans must recognize it is in fact losing for years that makes WINNING the most ENJOYABLE. That is why we all come back to our respected teams every season with more hunger, more desire, and more hope.

So as we look towards the 2008 Mystics season, I want everyone to recognize the hard work that these young women put into playing this game. As fans, we should always have high hopes for the Mystics and sooner than later, the team will prove to us why we are the most loyal fans in the league.

Tuesday, Feb. 5 - Linda Hargrove talks coaches retreat and the upcoming WNBA action.

Hey All ...

This Tuesday morning the 5th of February I woke up to hail pounding against my house. Yesterday the temperature was in the mid 60's and this afternoon we are to get 2-3 inches of snow. This is so typical of Kansas weather but I don't think we ever really get used to it.

The past few days we conducted a coaches retreat down at Sheila's resort, Innisbrook, near Tampa. There are 900 acres of beautiful grounds that includes four golf courses, restaurants and hotels. Her staff really took good care of us and allowed us a great atmosphere to prepare for a very successful season in 2008. There is a reason she is so successful in the hospitality business.

The best part, though, was working with our coaches. Tree was so organized and had both Crystal and Jessie working the whole time. Most casual fans think that you just show up for the game and play. They have no idea how much planning and work goes into putting that final product on the floor. I feel really good about what each of our coaches will bring to this team. Tree is very organized and works hard to communicate and relate to our players. He has so many experiences to draw from his playing days in the NBA and also from many of the awesome coaches that he has coached with. Jessie is fiery, demanding and disciplined. She wants things done right and will make sure that happens. I think she will be the perfect balance for Tree. She played professionally in the early days, led the league in rebounding, has coached professionally in the WNBA now for over 8 years and was instrumental in the championship won at Seattle. Crystal is our rising star. She hasn't had the coaching experience that Tree and Jessie have but I feel that as a player she was always coaching. She is also disciplined and wants things done right. She will be instrumental in the development of our young players.

Once the expansion draft is done tomorrow and we know exactly who the Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agents are we will get busy. We have developed a plan of action and will work hard to make things happen to improve the Mystics this season. Qualifying contracts and core designations will go out tomorrow and we are finally on our way. Conference tournaments are just around the corner, the draft and training camp will be here before we know it. I can't wait.

My grandson, Jacob, missed school all last week with mono but rebounded to lead his Biddy team to a victory last night. He seems to have his energy back and will catch up really quickly with his school work.

Aren't you just a little envious of Alana's travels with the Rich and Famous?

If you look like a squirrel but are grey with black legs and face, are you still a squirrel? We saw them at the resort and I was just curious.

See you in a gym.

Linda

Monday, Feb. 4 - Alana Beard talks about CARE and the good life.

Ok, so, I know it's been a while since my last blog, but I'm writing because I actually have something to talk about!! After all, writing about the FABULOUS life of the rich and famous, I mean injured and bored tends to get a little ummm boooring, don’t you think? Therefore, I took it upon myself never, yes, never to write you all again until I actually found a life. E TV, you can now officially add me to your list of the "Fabulous Life of the Rich and Famous!" Even better, lets just call it "the fabulous life of Alana Beard by way of Sheila Johnson!" Yep, that sounds perfect to me:-). I’ll be the first person to be featured on the "Fab" life who doesn't own their own company, not a heiress, actress or musician...rich in happiness and thankfulness.

All jokes aside, this is why I'm blessed! I not only play for one of the best, if not the best organizations in the league, but we have a president that is passionate, committed, and loyal. I could go on and on. Fans that are faithful, staff that are dedicated, a GM, coaches and players that are believers! So, yes, I am rich! I know I've joked around a lot about the shoulder injury, but its a blessing. I don't ask why anymore, I just take life for what it is. Basketball isn't all there is to life, of course it is something I'm passionate about, dedicated to and love doing, but it stops there. At first I asked why, but I quickly stopped when I was asked by Mrs. Sheila to go to India with her for CARE’s "I am powerful" campaign. CARE’s mission in India is to facilitate lasting change in the well being and social position of vulnerable groups, especially women and girls. Check out their website at CARE.org. I thought to myself, this is why. It may not be the only reason for the injury but its one reason without doubt. I've been all over the world, but I'm sure what I'm about to experience will be an eye opening experience that will give me a more clear answer as to what life really is... what some of us take for granted and others cherish.

We have a 14 day schedule ahead of us, well 12 days now. I'm currently on a 7 hour flight from London to Dubai. Well, we were! We just heard that there were a change of plans. As I said before, we are on a flight that is supposed to be going to Dubai to switch the crew that we had from DC, but there's a problem!!! We just got word after being in the air for an hour that we are turning around and going back to London. We have MECHANICAL problems!!! I'm calm, cool and collected...at least for now! The plan for now is to go back to London. Geeez, amazing how things change so quickly. We are now actually landing in Germany, where they will then switch us onto another private jet and send us on our way. Man, the life of the rich and famous..Lets just say that I'm soaking up the sun.

Wait, ANOTHER change of plans!!!! Because of the detour, we will miss our arrival window for India. This now becomes a bigger problem, because it takes about a day or two to process the papers for us to fly into New Delhi, India. We are now told that we will stay in Köln, Germany until everything is taken care of. The funny thing is, no one is stressing. As long as we have NetJets on our side, I see no reason to! They quickly (lets just say within 30 minutes) arranged for us to stay in a sold out hotel (don't ask) and have transportation for however long needed at 3 in the morning! Craziness, right? No! Wait, it gets even crazier! As I mentioned earlier, we had to detour because of a mechanical problem...something about low fluid in an area of the plane. So, as we land, we see blue lights, fire trucks and the emergency crew all waiting for us on the runway. By now we should be freaking out, right? Nope! Security, is doing what normally they do, looking tough and being the macho men they are. Giardy (Mrs. Sheila’s helping hand) is working. Me, writing this blog. M.C. Antil (aka M.C Hammer another helping hand) is probably freaking out with his seat belt as tight as a pair of jeans… haha! Mrs. Sheila’s saying "oh lawd, here we go" as Mr. Bill, proceeds to use his Indian accent (which has been non stop since taking off from DC, between him and M.C. hammer) as we land....hahaha they are hilarious together!!!

All right, so back to the itinerary, sorry, for the detour, as I said before, we departed the States on the 29th and stopped over to chill in London for two days and one night, just because. From London we will go to India where we will then meet up with the CARE staff and stay for about nine days. While in India we will travel to four or five different cities. After India we will then return to the States, oh wait, I forgot one last stop. Can you say Paris!!!!!!!! Yep, we are stopping in Paris for two days and two nights, again, JUST BECAUSE!!!

AHHHHHHH, as Kanye West would say...the GOOD LIFE! I will be in touch in to feel you in on what I know will be an unbelievable experience in India. In the mean time, I'm thinking you should listen the Good Life by Kanye West...I'm a witness :-)!

Please note: Due to paperwork issues, the Washington group was not able to continue their trip to India and had to return to the States.

Friday, Feb. 1 - Megan Burda relives her college days as she adjusts to the real world.

This time last year, I was hearing all sorts of stories of how the real world was going to kick me real hard and to enjoy college while I can. Those stories were nothing but true. Since graduating from James Madison University in May, my life has taken many twists and turns to land me where I am today. I am two and a half months into the real world and my life has finally landed on a path that will last a while and not require me to either change my class schedule every six months, wake up sore from practice or worry about moving from apartment to apartment to back home again every year.

Being a sports management major and a student athlete at JMU definitely allowed me to live the college life to the absolute fullest. Even though my days were jammed packed from 8 am classes to 9 pm study halls, or bus rides home at 2 am, it all paid off and I wouldn’t trade any of it. Last year, at this time, was the start of my last season as a gymnast. I thought ending my 18-year gymnastics career was going to shatter me. It was definitely a difficult time in my life to realize that 3:30 practices in Godwin 300 wouldn’t last forever. Not being able to see the family of girls that we had created everyday was a thought that I believed I could ignore. Graduation came and went but there was still a void and something that told me I was not quite ready to enter the real world.

On May 25th, 2007, my teammate, two of my high school friends and I decided to move to the beach and enjoy our last summer as “kids.” We did just that. No papers to write, no deadlines to meet, no practices to be late to, but simply stressing over how we could get darker and tanner than everyone else. Our internships were completed the summer before and none of us could think of a better way to end our “childhood.” We all got jobs as waitresses at the same restaurant and we lived 20 steps from the sand and waves of Dewey beach. Nothing could stand in the way of the most perfect 4 months that stood ahead of us. And not one thing did.

When the summer was over, we all came to the realization that we could not put off the working world any longer. We all landed jobs in our field and are now adjusting to the early mornings, late nights and the realization that sun bathing everyday before and after work could not last forever and was not normal.

Being here with the Mystics and working with an unbelievably supportive staff has made my adjustment into the grown-up world that much easier. I have learned that 7:00 am is considered to be late as I travel down 95 South and that Washington does not have a rush hour, but rather a rush day. Traveling from Baltimore to DC allows me a lot of ‘me’ time to and from work, but in the end, it’s worth it. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but someone once told me to think of my first year in the work force as “boot camp,” from then on out, things will get easier and easier to adjust to. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but now, I am nothing but. I love it here with the Mystics and I can’t wait to see what our girls have in store for the 2008 season!

Well thanks for checking in and reading about the ‘big move’. I would love to hear from you and can’t wait to see all of you out this season! Feel free to drop me a line and your thoughts at Mailbag@WashMystics.com.