In our second consecutive playoff appearance we are excited about the journey ahead. Sky players, coaches and staff alike believe that "This is our moment" and we need you with us every step of the way. Check in daily for the latest updates on your favorite Sky players and coaches.
Monday, September 8
Coach Chatman's message to her team on Monday morning was: "This ain't the Super Bowl. We get to play again." She wrote it on the board in the locker room and preached it over and over again to everyone she encountered throughout the day. CoachÂs words of wisdom, reinvigorated her team. Even though they had lost Game 2, they were still guaranteed at least two more opportunities to defeat the Western Conference Champions.
Before practice began, the players and coaches addressed the media to comment on their performance in Game 1 and look ahead to what adjustments they would need to make before Game 2 on Tuesday night.
ESPN's crew of Ryan Ruocco, Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe also spent some time with the team before Monday's practice started. They measured each of the starter's wingspans individually and then once collectively.
ESPN would use the information they gathered from both teams during Tuesday's broadcast. The goal of the wingspan measurements was to determine exactly how much longer the Mercury's starting lineup was than the Sky&'s. In Game 1, Phoenix's length greatly disrupted Chicago's offense.
Practice on Monday consisted of a light walk through where the players took advantage of recovery time with their stretching routine. Following practice, the rookies hung around to play a game of "HORSE". Markeisha is still in denial, but little Jay beat her on the final shot.
The players returned to the hotel and used the remainder of the evening to eat together and study their scout for Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Saturday, September 6
On Saturday morning, the two Finals teams participated in a "trophy" video shoot for ESPN. The players had the opportunity to do pose with the WNBA Finals trophy. The footage would be used in ESPN's broadcasts throughout the Finals series. The Sky's shoot consisted of the starting five and the WNBA's Sixth Woman of the Year, Allie Quigley. The players took turns inside a specially designed draped & lit area. Inside the booth they had the trophy and some confetti as their only two props for the shoot. Some of the players were great at coming up with their own creative ideas while others happily took direction from teammates about how they should pose.
It ended up being a really fun morning for everyone involved (with lots of bloopers recorded along the way) and gave the players a little taste of what it would be like to take home the WNBA Finals trophy. After the shoot, the players went for lunch together at Potbelly's before heading back to the gym for media availability and practice.
Following practice, the team had the evening off to rest. Later that night, the players witnessed their first major dust storm. With the windy weather outside, most took advantage of the down time to catch up on their sleep and adjust to the time change and some made sure to head out for a good meal at a local Steak house that came highly recommended by their former team mate Shay Murphy! Shay sure gave a great recommendation as the food was amazing and the perfect end to an exciting day.
Friday, September 5
On Friday, the team had an early flight to Phoenix to start preparing for Games 1 and 2 of the WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile. At O'Hare Airport it was a challenge for the players to walk more than three steps without being stopped by someone who wanted to take a photo, ask for an autograph of just offer their congratulatory sentiments. It was a great feeling to leave Chicago with the whole city's support.
Once the team arrived in Phoenix they headed to the US Airways Center for their first team practice. The coaches hung a banner of the championship trophy above the doors of the locker room so that the players would run by it every time they left the locker room ro head out to the court.
The team ran through a light practice and started to talk through some of Phoenix's sets.
As practice wrapped up, Pokey had the team gather around a banner that said "I am because we are."
Pokey gave a speech, touching on each player's individual journey and how each person had contributed to the team's overall success this season. Before leaving, each player signed the banner as a commitment to one another and their mutual goal of winning a WNBA Championship.
Near the end of the day a friendly bet had emerged between Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Greg Stanton, the Mayor of Phoenix. The two placed a friendly wager on whose team would come away with the WNBA Championship.
Emanuel bet a helping of Al's Italian Beef, Vosges' Haut-Chocolat bacon and chocolate bars and a six-pack of Lagunitas IPA beer against Mr. Stanton's offering of a meal prepared, and sent, by Chef Silvana Esparza of Barrio Cafe. As the series progresses, this will be an interesting competition to keep an eye on.
Thursday, September 4
The team arrived back to Chicago around 3 a.m. CT on Thursday morning and took a few hours to rest before returning to work at the practice facility. Even though Wednesday was technically a "day off" players did individual workouts, the coaches worked on their game plan and television stations crowded around for their first chance to speak with their Eastern Conference Champion Chicago Sky.
In the afternoon, the Sky held a press conference on the practice floor. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CSN, WBBM and WGN were just a few of the networks that sent crews to the event. Pokey, Sylvia, Allie, Elena, and Courtney each addressed the media.
Messages of congratulations continued to flood in throughout the day on Thursday. Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn both tweeted congratulatory messages to the team.
For the remainder of the evening, the ladies continued to receive calls and texts from friends and family members who wanted to congratulate them for winning the East and wish them luck in the WNBA Finals. Near the end of the night, it finally began to set in with the players that they were going to be participating in the WNBA Finals. Everyone went to sleep eager to get on the plane to head to Phoenix and return to the practice court on Friday afternoon.
Wednesday, September 3
Wednesday morning the player's woke up determined to win Game 3. Throughout the day there was good vibes in the air and it was clear that no one was ready for this season to be over yet.
Back in Chicago, the Sky staff planned a viewing party for fans at Giordano's in Rosemont. Since the game was on a weekday, the staff wanted to make Game 3 special for all of the Sky fans that were unable to make the drive to Indianapolis for the game. There was a great turn out of fans at GiordanoÂs and everyone enjoyed pizza, appetizers and soda throughout the game.
The distance did not stop the most loyal Sky fans from making the drive down to Indy. A group of Sky riders packed the stands behind the Sky's bench to cheer on their team in their first-ever Eastern Conference Championship game.
From the tip-off the Sky were in total control of the game. Everyone played together as a unit and it became apparent in the fourth quarter that the Sky were going to knock off the Indiana Fever to earn their first-ever trip to the WNBA Finals. The celebration started as soon as the final buzzer sounded on the court.
Pokey and Sylvia enjoyed a special moment before they walked off the court. Taking the Chicago Sky to the WNBA Finals felt extra sweet for Fowles, who has been with the Sky her entire career.
The excitement continued into the locker room where WNBA President Laurel Richie presented the team with their Eastern Conference Champion t-shirts and trophy.
Following the trophy presentation there was shouts of excitement, dancing, champagne, and of course, for this group, they needed to take the standard "selfies" that have become part of their routine.
In the post-game press conference someone asked Pokey how long she and her team would enjoy the feeling of being Eastern Conference Champions. She said she would give them until about midnight then responded to the media rhetorical question, "Have you seen Phoenix play??"
As the team rode back on the bus to Chicago that night, celebrations gradually turned into conversations about their next opponent, a Mercury team that had finished with the best overall record in the WNBA.
Tuesday, September 2
Tuesday morning was full of ice baths, massages and stretching before the team loaded the bus to make a familiar trip back to Indianapolis. Some of the players read on the bus, others played card games and a few gathered around to watch the movie "Frozen." No one realized that when they put the movie in, Sloot would end up singing "Let it go, let it go.." for the rest of the bus ride.
As the bus got closer to Indianapolis the players started to chat about last night's game, while the video crew broke down specific plays to show the team at a video session at the hotel once they arrived. The coaches showed clips of some great plays, things she wants the team to continue to do moving forward and things they need to make adjustments for in Game 3. Pokey finished the video session saying, "the chess match continues tomorrow."
Several of the players went to dinner together to eat a good meal in preparations for Wednesday's game. As the waiter took orders, Sasha asked what he recommended. The waiter responded, "Well depends what you're hungry for." Sylvia immediately piped in, "I am so hungry to get to the Finals." This got a rise out of everyone, the waiter included, but she was being dead serious. Coming off a 27-point performance in Game 2, Big Syl was more focused than ever on finding a way to guide her team to its first ever WNBA Finals appearance.
Tuesday night, players and coaches plan to gather together in the hotel lobby to watch Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. This is a great chance to sit together and discuss different plays and use it as an opportunity to scout their potential Finals opponent.
Monday, September 1
On Monday morning there was excitement in the air as the Allstate Arena workers laid the new sponsor decals on the court and got the building ready for the afternoon's game. Players did not have shoot-around in the morning due to earlier start time but both teams were in their locker rooms earlier than usual watching film and getting last minute instructions from coaches. The extra time in the morning to rest and prepare must have paid off for the Sky team as they battled through two thrilling overtime periods to defeat the Fever 86-84 in front of a crowd of 6,000 that sounded much more like 10,000.
After working overtime on Labor Day, the Sky came away with the victory to force a decisive Eastern Conference Final Game 3 on Wednesday night. The team shared a moment in the locker room and Pokey and Sloot headed off to the post-game press conference to address the local media.
Sloot opened the comments, "It finally feels like such a unit out there that no matter what happens we still have each other, we still have us and we're still going to fight. We know that we have the talent on this roster to come back from anything."
Following mandatory media availability the team took time to celebrate with family and friends before eating and heading to bed focused on one thing: Game 3.
Sunday, August 31
The team returned to Chicago on the bus at around 1am and was back at practice by noon for a walk through and film session. After a light practice, the players had the rest of the day off while the coaching staff continued to strategize schemes for Game 2. The players all took advantage of the opportunity to rest and recover on their off day and everyone was in front of a TV to watch the Conference Final match-up out in the West as Phoenix and Minnesota battled it out in game 2.
A few players took advantage of the time to see a movie and grab a bite to eat. At no point was the following day's game far from their minds and there was an aura of confidence from the group about the challenge ahead.
At the Sky office the Account Executives were working hard to accommodate last minute ticket requests. No one minds working extra hours on the weekend because they're dedicated to creating the ultimate home court advantage by gathering the biggest and loudest group of fans they could find.
Saturday, August 30
Today is game day and the first thing on our agenda is the team shoot-around. Before shoot-around several players congregated for breakfast in the hotel lobby. Others stopped by Starbucks for their usual morning tea or mixed green smoothies to follow their game day routine. At shoot-around the team was noticeably comfortable and familiar with the ins and outs of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. After playing the Indiana Fever five teams every season and on back-to-back occasions now in the postseason, the Sky has grown accustomed to the Fever's home court. Almost so much so that it negates the home court advantage, especially when Sky fans travel in buses to support their team in Indianapolis.
When the team got back to their phones following shoot-around they were excited to learn via Twitter notifications that a Sky fan bus was en route to Indianapolis. Sky Season Ticket Members arrived at the offices in Skokie, IL early in the afternoon. You could feel the excitement and anticipation as the fans were preparing to board a bus to cheer on their beloved team in Indianapolis. The fans boarded the bus decked out in their favorite Chicago Sky gear, with homemade signs in hand. As the bus pulled away from the office there was cheering and clapping that then turned into talks of different players statistics and what needed to happen in the game.
Once the bus arrived at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the fans could no longer contain their excitement. As everyone was standing outside waiting for the doors to open they were watching the t Fever fans that passed by and starting chants of their own. As the group walked in the front doors of the arena they immediately had a presence. After finding their seats behind the Sky's bench the chants started ÂLET'S GO SKY! With the loud roar the Sky fans created one might have thought we were playing at our home court.
Despite the loss, the fan bus left with a feeling of confidence heading back to Chicago for Game 2. The ride home was full of conversations about the game and plans to win on Monday afternoon.
Friday, August 29
On travel days practice is always short and sweet. Following practice Pokey gathered the team around the center circle to sign a banner that had been hanging in their practice gym all year. The banner read, "Do Your Job Today." Pokey gave a brief speech touching on the importance of each and every player to the team's success and then asked each of the players to sign the banner to symbolize their commitment to one another.
After practice concluded, players and coaches addressed the media for one final time before leaving for Indiana. Reporters' questions spanned from the comeback victory in Atlanta to last years playoff series against the Fever and various topics in between.
Before loading the bus, Pokey called the team together for a quick meeting. The meeting, as it turned out, was a decoy to get the players all in one place so that SkyRider Season Ticket Members could create a fan tunnel at the bus and send the team off properly. When the players walked out of the doors of the gym they were in utter shock and could not stop smiling. They were amazed at the noisemakers, posters and number of people that had left work in the middle of the afternoon to wish them well on their trip to Indiana
Even after they left the gym, the players talked about the send off well into the bus ride, trying to figure out how the Sky staff pulled the surprise off and the dedication of Sky fans. The bus ride was just under four hours. Many of the players slept while others watched movies and listened to music. Upon arriving in Indiana the team had dinner together and headed up to their rooms to take it easy for the rest of the night. Of course none of the players were able to go to sleep without watching Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury that didn't start until 9 p.m. CT.
Thursday, August 28
At practice on Thursday the intensity was turned up a notch. Saturday can't come soon enough. The players and coaches were focused on only one thing.... Saturday's game. The media at practice, on the other hand, was still trying to get over Tuesday night's miraculous victory. Since the team had off of practice on Wednesday, Thursday was the first opportunity CBS, ABC, NBC, WGN and FOX 32 had to speak with the team following their historic night in Atlanta.
Courtney, Elena, Allie, Sylvia and Pokey all gave provided thoughts and a recap of Tuesday night's game. Allie shared an additional story with the media about something her family did during Tuesday's game to bring the team good luck. Sam, AllieÂs sister, called her after the game and told her the reason why they had won was that AllieÂs entire family (83-year-old grandpa included), who was watching the game together in Joliet, got up at halftime and started doing the AngelÂs in the Outfield motion in the living room. The QuigleyÂs found it was working so at every timeout for the rest of the game they all got up and flailed their arms to bring the team the luck they needed to pull out the victory in Atlanta. The media all enjoyed Allie's story and immediately asked where her family would be watching Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals so they could join in the good luck ritual with grandpa.
In the afternoon, Sylvia and Courtney hosted a meet-and-greet session with fans at Niketown Chicago to spread the word about the upcoming playoffs and share their excitement with the city of Chicago. Fans came from all over the Chicagoland area to meet Big Syl and Sloot, taking advantage of the opportunity to take photos and get autographs with their favorite players. Fans were pleasantly surprised when the players pulled a stack of free ticket vouchers out their pocket to distribute to the dedicated fans that had made the trip out to see them. The Eastern Conference Finals is something that is new and exciting, not only to our players, but also to our fans. This is our moment.
Wednesday, August 27
Everyone was up and eager to fly back to Chicago on Wednesday morning. The team was proud to return home winners. The players wore their official Chicago Sky playoff shirts on the trip home.
Walking through the airport many people stopped the team to offer their congratulations, take photos and ask where they could purchase a playoff shirt. The ladies advised fans that the shirts are available exclusively online at www.chicagoskystore.com or in the Sky Store at Allstate Arena on game days.
Wednesday was a day off for the players to rest but a hectic planning day for the coaches and the Sky operations staff and ticket sales department. With a guaranteed home game scheduled for Monday, September 1 at 3:00 p.m. CT there was a lot to be done. The team needed to organize their Indiana trip itinerary, while the front office crew met to plan the run-down for the on-court experience. It was great to see so much coverage on the nightly news broadcasts recapping the Sky's miracle comeback from Tuesday night and previewing the grudge match series against the Indiana Fever.
The day off for the team was more of a recovery day for their bodies but its much harder for them to relax their minds and focus on anything but the next game. Everyone went to sleep on Wednesday night eager to get back on the practice floor on Thursday to start preparing for Indiana.
Tuesday, August 26
"It's gameday baby! Big Syl yelled as she walked on the team bus on Tuesday morning. Sylvia always knows how to get everyone excited, no matter what time of day it is. At shoot-around the team went through their normal routine and afterwards several of the players asked if they could film video messages to get fans excited about the game. Pokey and Christie decided they wanted to film a video message as well but wanted theirs to be different. Christie came up with the idea to have Pokey pass her the ball to shoot a jump shot at the end. She didn't realize how difficult it would be to execute, however, so it turned into about a 15-minute video session. Christie did everything she could to distract Pokey during her speaking part and Pokey did the same while Christie was shooting.
The team rested in the afternoon to prepare for the game. The Sky video coordinators followed their typical pre-game routine. The guys are superstitious about always eating Chipotle before games. In their eyes, it's the pregame meal of champions. Lucky for them they can eat as much as they want since they don't have to actually perform on the court during the game.
Heading to the game, the players, coaches and staff all carried themselves with a quiet confidence. Even though the game did not start as planned no one on the team showed any signs of giving up. The team had been through so much adversity throughout the season that nothing really fazes them anymore. Tuesday night turned out to be the moment when the teamÂs resilience and character shined through.
Down 16 points heading into the fourth quarter, the team completed the biggest comeback in WNBA playoff history to beat the Atlanta Dream and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. There were no words to describe this moment.
The players celebrated on court and returned to the locker room to messages of congratulations from family and friends who had watched the unbelievable finish. On Tuesday night everyone celebrated with a team dinner before heading to sleep for an early flight back to Chicago and to get started on preparations for the next series.
Monday, August 25
On Monday morning, it was a very quick turn-around as the team took off on an early flight for Atlanta. Checking back in to the hotel, you could sense a feeling of comfort amongst the ladies. In the same hotel, just two days ago, they had returned and felt motivated after taking Game 1 while on the road on Friday night.
The team did not practice on Monday afternoon. Instead, Coach Chatman held a video session to go through Sunday night's game in the hotel conference room.
After the video, the ladies went through their normal stretching routine, with Ann, the team's strength and conditioning coach. Leaving the conference room the team was reinvigorated. From that point on, no one was going to mention either of the two prior games. The biggest game became the next game.
As the team wrapped up the film session "Tree" offered these words of advice, "Turn up the intensity. Be ready for a fight. This is our moment."
Some of the players hung around to talk and stretch. The rookies decided to have some fun while they stretched taking "selfies" on Sasha's phone while she was outside of the room. Leave it up to Jamierra, the "selfie" queen, to be the instigator in this prank. Sasha came back and found over 20 pictures of Jamierra and Markeisha in her phone. Note to everyone - never leave your phone laying around when J or Keisha are close by".never know what you will find later ☺
The players had the rest of the day to do rest and prepare for Tuesday's game. Some prefer to relax and watch television at the hotel, while others receive treatment and take ice baths. By the time they become professionals, players have figured out their own formula for success on game days and days leading up to games. Pokey allows her players to do their thing so they would wake up Tuesday ready for a battle.
Sunday, August 24
On Sunday morning when the players walked into Allstate Arena for shoot-around they all had a small jar waiting in their locker. The jar was filled with "sand and water" and a word written on the outside, unique to each player. The sand and water mixture signified the importance of being connected as a team. Sand, by itself, if poured out will hit the ground and go off in several different directions. Water does the very same thing. Sand and water together, however, makes a bound substance that moves as one. This was the idea that the coaches were trying to get across to the team on the morning of the second game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With an opportunity to close out the series at home, the team's level of connectedness on the court and in the locker room would play a part in determining their destiny.
Prior to Sunday night's game, there was a special presentation held at center court for Allie Quigley who was named 2014 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year. It was a very special moment for Quigley who had been in the league for several years, bouncing from team-to-team before finding a home with the Chicago Sky. Quigley, the Joliet, IL native has enjoyed playing in front of her family and friends. Sunday night was no different. Many of AllieÂs family, friends, college teammates and coaches were in attendance to congratulate her on this great accomplishment. As she walked off the court, Coach Chatman pointed up to the screen and told Allie there had a special message for her. When Allie looked up she saw Stephen Curry, her favorite NBA player, congratulating her on being named Sixth Woman and wishing her luck in the playoffs.
Despite a hard-fought battle that night against the Dream , the Sky was unable to close out the series against the Dream at home on Sunday. Elena and Pokey addressed the media in the post-game press conference and spoke about the need to play more strategically on Tuesday.
"They went harder and we have to go harder and smarter next game," said Sky Head Coach and General Manger Pokey Chatman following Sunday night's game.
When asked about her will to win, Delle Donne responded, "If you're a competitor it's not even a question. I'll throw my body out there. I'll do whatever it takes to win this game."
Saturday, August 23
On Saturday the team returned to Chicago feeling good about Friday's big win and used Saturday as a day to rest and recover. At the practice facility, the team watched film. Even though they had won, Pokey was still able to pick out some plays for the ladies that they could run sharper heading into Game 2 on Sunday night. An on-court stretching session followed, and then players headed home to get some much needed rest.
At the Sky office on Saturday afternoon, the sales team was busy calling Sky fans to recap Friday's win and get everyone excited for Sunday's game. The phones were ringing off the hooks with people who wanted to buy tickets to see the Sky potentially close out the series at home on Sunday. The game operations team finalized their plans and practiced a few in-game promotions.
The front office staff, players and coaches all took it easy on Saturday night to rest up for Sunday's action. As tough as it was to sleep with all of the excitement mounting, everyone made an effort to be well rested for the next day. Fortunately, there was a big rainstorm on Saturday night that made for good sleeping weather.
Friday, August 22
It's GAMEDAY!!! On the morning of a game it seemed like everything happens with a heightened sense of awareness. Heading to shoot-around in the morning the players all listened to their music to get mentally prepared for the game ahead. The ladies had a sharp shoot-around and it was obvious that they were determined, and motivated, to knock off the top-seeded Dream.
Meanwhile, at the Sky offices in Skokie, front office staff members took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at lunchtime. The Sky front office was nominated for the challenge by the Atlanta Dream sales staff and the Delaware 87ers. Over 14 Sky front office personnel joined Sky Guy at an outside picnic table area to complete the challenge outside. The Sky front office nominated the front offices of the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs in return as well as the Sales staff from the Indiana Fever, the WNBA TMBO staff and Big Cat, from Big Cat, Bar Stool.
After taking it easy for the afternoon at the hotel, the team headed to Philips Arena to prepare for the game. As per routine, Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot were the first two players to the court to their pre-game shooting ritual. The Sky trailed by as many as 12 points in the game but rallied back to win the game in the final seconds off a Courtney Vandersloot jump shot.
"I feel like we never wavered and we always had confidence," said Elena Delle Donne following her team's Game 1 victory. "I love when I go into a huddle, and I'm talking to my teammates, and they're yelling things right back at me. That means they're in it and we were ready to go."
There was no question that the Sky were locked in down the stretch as they came up with two huge defensive plays to prevent shot attempts by McCoughtry and de Souza to come away with the win. In the locker room, Pokey awarded "Sloot" the game ball for knocking down the big shot down the stretch and doing all of the little things throughout the game to help the Sky right the ship and come away with a win in Atlanta.
Following the game, Elena met up with a special guest that came to watch her play. Andi Dorfman alongside fianc' Josh Murray from ABC's The Bachelorette hung around following the game to chat with Delle Donne about the season. Delle Donne and Dorfman met earlier this year when The Bachelorette filmed a basketball-themed episode where the men played 5-on-5 against the WNBA's top talent. If you remember from the show Dorfman and Murray both reside in Atlanta, GA so it is way easy for them to stop by Philips Arena to catch up with Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky.
After a quick meal, it's back to bed so we can get up and head back to Chicago for Game 2! Join us at Allstate Arena on Sunday, August 24 at 6pm! #THISISOURMOMENT
Thursday, August 21
Thursday morning was the team's final practice at Sach's Recreation Center before they headed out to Atlanta. With their first Eastern Conference Semifinal game against the Dream just around the corner, there was a large contingent of local media on hand at practice to gather comments from the players and coaches.
Elena, Sylvia and Allie each stepped in front of the cameras to speak with CBS, NBC, ABC, and WGN. The ladies commented on their comfort of heading into the playoffs following a season of adversity and their thoughts on playing Atlanta in the first round.
After the players were finished, Coach Chatman stepped out to address the media and immediately lightened the mood by stopping a reporter mid-sentence to pull a mustache out of her pocket. Everyone stared at her and she said, "I was told there was a mustache of champions in this wonderful city of Chicago." The reporters all chuckled at Pokey's clever connection between Chicago championship teams led by coaches with mustaches. There was Mike Ditka with the Bears, Phil Jackson with the Bulls and, most recently, Joel Quenneville with the Blackhawks. After cracking a smile, Pokey set all jokes aside to speak about her excitement heading into this year's playoffs and her team's untapped potential saying, "We haven't peaked yet."
The television crews left practice enlightened by Pokey"s optimism heading into the playoffs and impressed by her knowledge of Chicago sports history. Did you see her on the nightly newscasts? After showers and lunch the team loaded the bus for the airport.
When the team arrived at the airport they all went through their typical routines, as frequent flyers. Some sat by the gate and read books or listened to music while others walked around to grab a bite to eat before boarding. There probably isn't a single trip where at least one Sky player doesn't grab a bag of Garret's Popcorn on their way in or out of O'Hare. Today was no different. T Young and Courtney Clements made their way over to the Garret's Popcorn stand to grab a bag of Chicago Mix before leaving for Atlanta. After a quick flight, the team landed, checked in at the hotel and ate a team meal together before heading to their hotel rooms to relax for the night.
Wednesday, August 20
Wednesday morning was an eventful day at the Sky office. The day started with a notification from the Delaware 87ers saying they had challenged the Sky front office in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Members of the 87ers staff helped the Sky earlier in the year with the logistics of our preseason game at the University of Delaware. The Sky front office is happy to accept the 87ers challenge and help raise money for such a great cause. Keep an eye out for a video coming later this week as we accept the challenge and nominate others.
The morning also included an official game operations planning meeting that was held to finalize details for Sunday's game. In the meeting a brainstorming session was held to incorporate our playoff theme "This is our moment" into in-game activities. During the playoffs there are some additional "operational" set ups that we need to incorporate and we will work closely with the awesome staff at Allstate Arena to be ready on Sunday.
Wednesday's practice was full of energy from the Sky coaches, players and practice squad. With each hour closer to tip-off on Friday, the excitement continues to rise amongst the team. During practice Coach "Tree" Rollins stepped in to give the post players some advice. "Tree" is a man of little words but when he speaks everyone listens because they know it is important. After playing 18 years in the NBA, the ladies know that when "Tree" speaks its from experience. He is a seasoned veteran who has appeared in the playoffs multiple times as both a player and coach. The players left practice with determination in their eyes and went home to rest and pack their bag in order to be prepared to travel on Thursday afternoon after their final practice at Sachs Recreation Center.
Tuesday, August 19
On Tuesday the team returned to practice to begin preparations to face the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Following off a day off, the players felt rested and had a high-energy practice.
Big Syl surprised everyone and threw down a dunk in the middle of a pick and roll shooting drill. Syl's dunk was her way of letting her teammates and coaches know that she's made a full recovery from her offseason hip surgery and is feeling great about the playoffs.
As the players left practice, they picked up their scouts to study at home and a new playoff t-shirt. The shirts have one word printed on the back: UBUNTU*. In the team's sense the term means, "I am because we are." This phrase has been a binding force for the team all season. The team's unity is what has allowed them to persevere through all of the adversity they have faced this season.
On Tuesday night, Epiphanny Prince and Courtney Clements attended the Cubs vs. Giants game where Piph was scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. While the ladies were staged in the waiting area, NBA legend Doug Collins stopped by to wish them luck in their playoff series against the Dream. Collins has followed the team all season long and is excited to see what they can do with a healthy roster heading into the post-season.
On the mound, Piph was able to put her nerves aside to throw a perfect strike right down the middle. When Prince and Clements found their seats down the third base line, a fan of Courtney Clements was happily surprised to learn that his favorite WNBA player would be enjoying the game in the same row as him. During the third inning, a foul ball landed in the section where the Courtney and Piph were sitting. The gentleman that was the fan of Clements caught the ball and naturally tossed it to his favorite WNBA player to keep. Unbeknownst to the fan, Courtney autographed the baseball a few minutes later and passed it back down the row to him to keep. The fan was elated. Courtney and Piph posed for pictures and signed autographs with fans as they made their way out of the ballpark and returned home to study their scouts.
*Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term that encapsulates the universal bond that unites all of humanity.
Monday, August 18
Monday was a busy day around the Chicago Sky offices. Following the conclusion of the 2014 regular season on Sunday night, the WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinal matchups were released and the Sky staff was able to continue preparations to host the Atlanta Dream at Allstate Arena for the second game of the semifinals on Sunday, August 24.
Our fans have been amazing. We would not be in the position we are in today without all of our supporters. Last night we hosted "Fan Appreciation Night" to show our fans how much they mean to us. The players really enjoyed spending time talking with fans on the court following the game, signing autographs and, of course, taking "selfies".
Monday was an "off the court day" for players and coaches. While there was no official practice, many of the ladies stopped by the practice facility throughout the day to get some extra shots up. Coach Chatman and her staff met in the morning to finalize the team's travel plans, watch video and prepare the scouting report for Atlanta.
Many of the Sky players used the time off to do some of the things they enjoy most. Piph, the self-proclaimed "Sneaker Head", took advantage of the team's day off to play catch up on some shoes that were released over the weekend. She added the Nike Kobe 9 Elite Low "Beethoven", Air Jordan 6 "OG Spizike" and Air Jordan XIV "Ferrari" to her collection.
Elena accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with her dog Wrigley and called out United States Vice President Joe Biden. She posted a video to her Instagram account in case you missed it. Sylvia spent the afternoon relaxing by the lakefront and getting focused to lead her team in a deep playoff run. Joliet native, Allie Quigley, stopped home to spend some time with her family and rookie point guard, Jamierra Faulkner, took a few ÂselfiesÂ as she relaxed on her day off. Did you know taking "selflies" is one of Jamierra's favorite hobbies off the court?
To learn more about what the Sky players and coaches are doing on, and off, the court in preparations for their WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup against the Atlanta Dream visit the Sky Insider page daily. ÂThis is our momentÂ and we want to take you with us every step of the way.