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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Reaching for the 'Sky' Team
by Ross Forman
2006-03-29

This article shared 10076 times since Wed Mar 29, 2006
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Pictured Brooke Wyckoff and Stacey Dales-Schuman

Brooke Wyckoff comes to Chicago from Connecticut and Spain, and also has stops in Florida, Ohio and, uh, Lake Forest.

Wyckoff, the 26th overall draft pick in the 2001 WNBA draft out of Florida State University, has played the last three seasons for the Connecticut Sun. She also plays in Spain in the off-season, most recently for Mann Filter of Zaragoza.

Wyckoff attended Lakota High School in West Chester, Ohio, and was inducted into the 2003 class of the Lakota Athletic Hall of Fame. Now she's a Chicago Sky, within shouting distance of Lake Forest, where she lived until she was six.

'When I heard the news that Chicago was getting a ( WNBA ) team, I was thrilled, for a number of reasons,' said Wyckoff, who has five years of WNBA experience and averaged 3.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 17.5 minutes of play in 2005.

'Chicago is an amazing city; I haven't heard one person say one bad thing about it,' she said. 'Everyone loves the city. We're so excited within the WNBA community that there finally is a team in Chicago. The chance to be on a team in its inaugural season is a great opportunity, very exciting. So far, Chicago has exceeded my expectations—the people, the organization, everyone. It's been great.'

Wyckoff joins a list of still-unknown Sky ballers who have yet to wear the team's baby blue and yellow colors. They open the season May 20 in Charlotte, then play host to Sacramento May 23 for the home opener at the UIC Pavilion.

The Sky plays 17 home games, ending the Aug. 13 at Indiana.

'The excitement level is sky-high, literally,' Wyckoff said. 'There are so many people who want to make the Sky a success, including so many people within the community who are not directly related with basketball or the team. I've been meeting a lot of people of late, especially women, who are so excited.'

That certainly includes many within the LGBT community.

'We're not really catering to one specific demographic, but we definitely do want to get women interested in the team,' Wyckoff said. 'We welcome support from anyone, from everyone. Personally, I just appreciate the fans who come to the games, regardless of their background, be it age, gender, race or sexual orientation.

'Interaction within the community is important. We have to get the word out about the team. We have to get people excited about the team. ... We want this team to be an inspiration to everyone in the community, and that includes men, women, old, young, everyone.'

So who's who on the Sky roster? Well, here's a sampling:

— KIESHA BROWN: Attended the University of Georgia, earning a Final Four appearance during the 1998-'99 season. Represented the U.S. at the 1996 Junior National Team. Joins the Sky from the Houston Comets.

— STACEY DALES-SCHUMAN: Is a former Washington Mystics All-Star who attended the University of Oklahoma. Was the third overall pick by the Mystics in the 2002 WNBA Draft. Joined ESPN in 2002 as a studio analyst for Women's College Basketball and was named the 'Rookie Analyst of the Year' by USA Today's Rudy Martzke.

— STACEY LOVELACE-TOLBERT: Grew up in Michigan and attended Purdue University. Has played professionally in five countries and joins the Sky from the Minnesota Lynx.

— CHELSEA NEWTOWN: Played for the defending WNBA champion Sacramento Monarchs last season, her first in the league. Attended Rutgers.

— ELAINE POWELL: Has played in the WNBA since 1999. Comes to Chicago from the Detroit Shock, where she averaged 5.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

'It's exciting being an inaugural season, but it also can be a little scary because usually expansion teams are not too, too successful starting out, but the league is so dense with talent right now,' Wyckoff said. 'I think the [ 2005 ] expansion draft was very strong and the players we got are great. I think the nervousness heading into a new team is a little less due to the caliber of players we got.

'My first impression of the team was, we got some really strong players, some proven players. I was kind of surprised some of the players were not protected ( by their former teams ) , but I'm glad they're with us.

'I'm sure some players were, or are, sad to leave their [ 2005 ] team; I know I was. But, at the same time, this is a great, new opportunity. This is professional sports.'

NBA Hall of Famer Dave Cowens is the Sky coach, and is in his first season in the WNBA. 'You can expect a great, new version of basketball than what Chicago is used to with the NBA,' she said. 'Women's basketball is a different style than the NBA. It's an exciting game, mostly played below the rim. It's fast-paced with skilled players. And it's just a fun atmosphere. Anyone who comes to a game is going to like it, and come back.'


This article shared 10076 times since Wed Mar 29, 2006
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