Nerds of a Feather: Celebrating Fathers Day with the Ogwumikes
If you ask WNBA stars Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike (self-professed nerds themselves) the biggest nerd in the family is none other than their father, Peter "Papa D" Ogwumike.
Of course the term nerd gets thrown around in the Ogwumike household like a fish gone to market. Chiney and Nneka attended Stanford University, one of the top academic universities in the country, and are proud members of what has come to be known as Nerd Nation.
Chiney even wrote a (now infamous) song about it:
But what puts Peter Ogwumike ahead of the nerd-game?
Pocket protectors, Chiney and Nneka both seperately claimed.
He likes to carry pens in his pocket, Chiney said, because hes such an enginerd.
For the uninitiated, enginerd is a portmanteau of engineer and nerd. Two things which undoubtedly, according to his daughters, describe Papa D.
Well I am an engineer, Peter said when asked how he regarded his title, and engineers are generally referred to as nerds. So if its a nerdy profession, then of course I am a nerd. Ill take it.
Now a manufacturing engineer in Cypress, Texas or, he explained, as some might call it an industrial engineer Peter Ogwumike was born and raised in Nigeria before deciding to leave his home country for the States around 1980. He attended a community college in Colorado where he met Ify, the woman who would eventually become Mrs. Ogwumike and Chiney and Nnekas mother. Ify also immigrated from Nigeria.
Both Chiney and Nneka are proud of their Nigerian heritage, explaining to ESPNW that their last name literally translates to he who does not tire or warrior. Given their tenacious approach to the game they have devoted their athletic abilities to, that could only be more fitting if it literally meant really good at basketball.
Nneka and Chiney are not the end of the Ogwumike legacy, they have two younger sisters, Olivia and Erika, who (in case you were wondering) are both basketball players as well. The four girls also go by their Nigerian names which are, respectively, Nnemkadi, Chinenye, Chisom and Erinma.
Recently, Nneka and Chiney have even joined the effort to help empower and educate young girls and women in light of the tragic kidnappings in Nigeria.
We have little control over getting those girls back, Chiney told ESPN, the one thing we can control is how we empower these girls. And thats exactly what they are trying to do through a partnership with the United Nations Childrens Fund UNICEF.
With UNICEFs help, the sisters have created a fundraising competition where middle school and high school level basketball teams will try to raise the most money to benefit UNICEF's U.S. Fund, including the Girls' Education Project, which aims to give 1 million girls in northern Nigeria access to quality learning, provide scholarships for female teachers and establish safe spaces for girls.
Chiney and I are just so grateful that [UNICEF] considered us. Were excited to partner with them and invite people to donate funds toward these educations, Nneka said. (Challenges and donations can be set up through their Crowdrise page.)
Of course, the father couldnt be more proud of his daughters.
You know, in life you are remembered for what youve done and not just who you are and for that I am so proud of them, he said. I am strongly in support [of their cause] and I truly commend them.
But thats certainly not the only reason he has to be proud of his girls. Among the many other reasons, this weekend, Chiney will become the second Ogwumike to graduate from Stanford -- on Father's Day no less.
I just want to congratulate Chiney on her graduation. Im happy for her and I wish her the best -- both of my daughters I would do anything to support them. They are both grown now but I am there for them, Peter said with only the slightest hint of nostalgia.
With the two girls playing on opposite sides of the country now with Nneka in Los Angeles and Chiney in Connecticut, its rare that the whole family gets to be together these days, which is why he is looking forward to Fathers Day.
Notoriously not a gift kind of guy (He says if you want to give something to someone you can give it to them on that day, said Chiney quoting her father, you dont need a special day for it.) Peter said, having the whole family together will be a really big gift for me.
And his girls intend to honor that. Although, Chiney offered, we might try to surprise him with another pocket protector or something.
As for the rest of the year when Nneka and Chiney go back to their new-ish home-away-from-homes, whats it like for a parent to root for two different teams now?
I really think it paralyzes them, Chiney said, half joking. One day my mom will say Im going to go watch Nneka in Washington and then the next day shell say actually Im going to go watch Chiney in New York but then by the end of the week she says I think Im just going to watch both of them on LiveAccess. But, she added, theyre always there if they feel like one of us is really struggling. Which is another testament to how close this family really is.
Were just a very tight-knit unit, Nneka said, and Im very grateful. I thank God every day for my family and for who I am.
Another testament of true Ogwumike family love?
My whole family is on my Netflix account. That's love.