The last year of Michaela Onyenwerelife has been a whirlwind.
The New York Liberty selected the former UCLA forward as sixth overall in the 2021 WNBA draft, and within weeks she was in sea foam at Barclays Center, play her way to Rookie of the Year honors. She graduated from UCLA, played abroad in Spain and now, in the second year of her professional career, she is starting a family.
No, no, not like that. Onyenwere, who turns 23 in August, learns about her reproductive health and fertility as part of a campaign with Modern Fertility so she’s prepared for that part of her life ahead.
“We’re going abroad, so it’s like, okay, if I ever plan to have a kid, I know I’m going to have to miss basketball. I know I’m going to have to miss part of my career” , Onyenwere told Yahoo. Sport. “I think it’s so important for me to — not that I want to have kids anytime soon — for me it’s really important to have those resources and the ability to do that.”
Onyenwere will be joined in the campaign by Liberty teammate Betnijah Laney and WNBA colleagues Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike. The campaign highlights the difficulty for female athletes to start a family when their bodies are literally their careers and support is largely lacking.
That second problem is starting to change for the better. As Title IX turned 50 this week, the sports world celebrated progress while also focusing on the next 50 years of growth in equality. That includes maternity protection and access to family planning so that athletes are not limited in their careers.
The WNBA included it in its groundbreaking 2020 collective bargaining agreement, a giant leap from when Sheryl Swoopes gave birth to her son shortly before the inaugural WNBA season kicked off in 1997. The CBA includes fully paid maternity leave, fertility support and adoption fees, childcare allowance, and the end of the stigmatizing use of “suspended” when a player is absent due to pregnancy.
Players have already benefited from the changes. Cheyenne Parker and Napheesa Collier each had a daughter while Breanna Stewart, who used a surrogate?and Parker, whose wife bore their son?have welcomed children.
But talking about it in a campaign is quite different from quietly taking advantage of a job advantage. Onyenwere, the youngest W star in the campaign at six, said she was a little nervous when she first heard the pitch because reproductive health is still such a taboo topic. Her first thought was, “Okay, we’ll cover it later,” and she thought back to a six-week class on black motherhood that sparked her interest.
“This made me more interested in gaining knowledge about my body,” Onyenwere said. “I know about my body on the athletic side. I’ve been able to push my body on the athletic side, but I’m not very well versed in the reproductive side, the hormones and my eggs and stuff. I think this is a no -brainer kind of collaboration is what I’m really excited about to keep learning about.”
The advances made in the WNBA, other sports leagues and society when it comes to family planning also comes at a time when the Supreme Court appears ready to Roe v. Wade . to overthrow, a 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. (After this piece was published on Friday morning, the court announced its formal vote, 6-3, to overthrow the law.†
“I’ve been really upset about just because it’s like there are people who are men who will never go through things that women go through at any level in any landscape, who make decisions for women,” Onyenwere, whose sociology degree is, Yahoo Sports told. “No matter how much I read about it, no matter how much I process it, I just don’t get it. And it’s just how it’s been for a long time, unfortunately.
“But it’s just so disappointing to see things like that. See the world like this. See how women’s bodies are regulated, even from years and years and years and years ago. Decades ago. So it’s really, really sad to I pray that we can get into a space where that doesn’t happen, where we can have the choice to have children, not to have children, to make those decisions for yourself that are best for you.”
WNBA All-Star Ranking
A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Sylvia Fowles and Sue Vogel share the captain’s duties as four out of 10 All-Star starters The league announced this on Wednesday. All-Star rosters are always interesting because it’s a weighted vote between fans, media and players, so it gives insight into where each sector stands. And there were some major discrepancies between those parties.
At the hold position, the Nos. 5-7 finishers each had a margin of at least seven between the highest and the lowest. Seattle Storm Watch Jewell Loyd was ranked third by players, fifth by fans and 10th by media (East Coast bias proof?).
Skylar Diggins Smith, who wasted no time pointing out the difference on Twitter, was third by media, fourth by fans and 14th by players. She was the only top-10 guard in weighted scoring to receive a double-digit player ranking. The second closest was Rhyne Howardwho finished ninth and ninth in the weighted score.
Arike Ogunbowale was voted fourth by the media and players, but voted eleventh by fans to drop out of the starter pool. †Marketing and/or racial bias at play?) And Kelsey Mitchell was ranked sixth by both, only to fall due to a number 13 finish with fans.
In the frontcourt, where there are six All-Star spots, it was sixth place Candace Parker (fan third, media seventh, player 13th) and Elena Delle Donne (4, 12, 20) who saw such drastic differences. The low player ranking is not new for Parker, who was voted ‘most overrated’ in a confidential player poll by The Athletic in September 2019. Delle Donne’s difference can be attributed to her situation as a part-time player, while fans have probably voted her excited for having her back.
But the most important thing to note in the rankings is the reigning MVP Jonquel Jones. She finished third in each of the media and player ranks, while finishing just eighth in the fanfront court rankings and 15th of all players† It should not be overlooked, this result came on the day of Katie Barnes’ piece for ESPN highlighting marketing problems and bias with regard to Jones and within the entirety of the league.
In the general vote Wilson took first (88,407), followed by Stewart (79,520), Plum (68,678), Parker (66,462) and Delle Donne (45,876). I had an All-Star vote, which I will share with a few comments in the spirit of transparency.
guards: Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, Sabrina Ionescu, Kelsey Mitchell
Give the new children some love. Plum and Young are clear. Ionescu reached another level in June and affects every part of the stats. Mitchell got the nod for what she’s done with no seasoned talent around her, but Ogunbowale and Loyd were hard to leave.
front court: A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones, Sylvia Fowles, Brionna Jones, Elena Delle Donne
Her Hoop Stats made a good thing for Brionna Jones, who is an important part of the strong start of the sun. And I’ve put Delle Donne in part for her success after a two-year absence and how the Mystics are such a different team without her. Many players were difficult to leave out, such as Dearica Hamby, Nneka Ogwumike and Emma Meesseman.
WNBA x NBA Draft Mashup
Relatives of WNBA players past and present had their moments in the spotlight on Thursday night during the NBA draft 2022†
Washington Mystics Center Elizabeth Williams was in town to see her little brother, Mark Williams. Mark went to Duke, like his older sister, and chose the school after seeing Elizabeth, the 2012 National Freshman of the Year, play there.
Rhonda Smith Banchero† who graduated as Washington’s top scorer, raised her son, Duke’s Paolo Banchero, on the female game. Smith Banchero (who played as Rhonda Smith) was drafted in the third round of the 2000 WNBA draft by the Sacramento Monarchs.
And then there is Niele Ivey‘s son, Jaden Ivey. The Indiana Fever selected Niele Ivey from Notre Dame as 19th overall in the 2001 WNBA draft. She played for five seasons before becoming coach and returning to the Fighting Irish, where she took over after the retirement of former coach Muffet McGraw. Jaden was born in 2002 while playing for the Fever and he played collegiately with Purdue. Both mother and son made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournaments in March.
Twitter user TC Collins said it best: “The NBA Draft’s Biggest Takeaway. Guys whose mothers played in the WNBA are better prospects than guys whose fathers played in the NBA.”
WNBA news you may have missed
The latest on Brittney Griner:
TV program for the weekend
Games are available on WNBA League Pass unless broadcast by broadcasters as noted below (excluding Facebook and Twitter). All times ET
Friday: Liberty at Dream (7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
Saturday: Mercury at Wings (8pm, NBA TV), Sparks at Storm (9pm, Facebook), Mystics at Aces (10pm, NBA TV)
Sunday: Sun at Dream (3pm, Amazon Prime), Lynx at Sky (6pm, CBS Sports Network)