Sky Host First Ever Open Tryout

Open Tryouts Photo Gallery

Sunday marked a new beginning for the Chicago Sky as they hosted their first ever open tryout at the Sachs Recreation Center under new Head Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman.

The Sky became one of three teams in the league joining the Los Angeles Sparks and Tulsa Shock to host open tryouts prior to the 2011 season, and the event was the first in the Sky’s history since joining the WNBA in 2006.

“Visiting with some of the players I feel we put them in a position to really do some things,” Chatman said. “Overall we were pleased.”

Chatman and her assistant coaches welcomed 60 players to the Sky’s practice facility in Deerfield, Ill., and took note as players from a wide assortment of backgrounds and experience displayed their skills on the hardwood. The women came to work and it was clear in both the hustle and physical style of play. With a single opening to the training camp roster hanging over their heads, simply being good wasn’t going to be enough. The coaches were looking for a standout participant.

“We were looking at an array of things,” Chatman said. “You can look at the roster and see all the areas that we need. There were a couple players that you can tell they’ve been coached and you can tell they’ve played at high levels.”

The tryout began promptly at 10:30 a.m. with a series of shooting, passing and dribbling drills followed by 5-on-5 and 3-on-3 scrimmages. Cal Poly graduate and former NWBL Chicago Blaze player Keila Beachem recognized the tryout as a rare opportunity for hopeful WNBA players.

“It’s a chance of a lifetime,” Beachem said. “A lot of people dream of even being able to come in here and just showcase in front of a coach, but we’re actually here. However it turns out, it’s a wonderful experience.”

Former St. Louis University player Nicole Johnson noted the rare occasion as a chance for all types of basketball players to expose their skills.

“It’s amazing because there are only three teams that do tryouts like this (in the WNBA),” Johnson said. “I’m originally from Texas, but I went to school in St. Louis, so the fact that it’s so close too makes it so much better to just come out and do your thing. There are all kinds of women out here, old, young, whatever.”

But with 60 players battling for one roster spot on a professional roster, it was the stiff competition on the court that made the Sky’s first open tryout a success according to Beachem.

“Everybody’s hungry, everybody’s hungry,” Beachem said. “This is what it’s all about. All of these people are die-hard basketball fans, and they’re coming out here to live a dream.”

Beachem and Johnson were two of 21 players selected by Chatman and the Chicago coaching staff to return later on Sunday afternoon for a further look. According to Chatman, the second round was formulated to give the selected group another opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

“It was all scrimmaging and it gave them a little something to do so we can see how they follow direction,” Chatman said.

While it is a long shot for an open tryout participant to make any WNBA roster, all involved had an experience they will always remember and now have a better understanding what they need to do to get to their game to the next level. After all, the WNBA still remains the toughest pro sports league to make.

Click here to read the Sky Tryout Chronicles.