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How The WNBA Inspires A Generation Of Athletes

(Originally posted on Forbes.com on 9/18/2012)

The motto from the 2012 Olympic Games was Inspire a Generation. Last week, the WNBA carried that motto into its 2012 Inspiring Women Luncheon where the league honored Team USA’s female medalists with its WNBA Inspiration Award. 

The select group of athletes who represented Team USA included: Betsey Armstrong (Gold Medal, Water Polo),Tamika Catchings (Gold Medal, Basketball), Kayla Harrison (Gold Medal, Judo), Paige McPherson (Gold Medal, Taekwondo), Taylor Ritzel (Gold Medal, Rowing), Danielle Scott-Arruda(Silver Medal, Volleyball), Claressa Shields (Gold Medal, Boxing), Lauren Tamayo (Silver Medal, Cycling), Logan Maile Lei Tom (Silver Medal, Volleyball), and Venus Williams (Gold Medal, Tennis).

These distinguished women were honored, not just because of their athletic accomplishments, winning 58 of the 104 medals and 29 of the 46 gold medals, but for their determination, courage, and strength. They inspire us to reach higher and dream bigger, which unquestionably embodies the mission of the WNBA, showing the world what is possible.

“This team is a persuasive and powerful proof point of the impact of Title IX,” said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. “The breadth and depth of the events in which these women competed, and the compelling story of their journey to the Olympic stage is nothing short of inspiring. The women of Team USA are in my mind truly and unequivocally champions of achievement.”

Four-time Olympic gold medalist, Venus Williams, spoke on behalf of Team USA and graciously thanked the WNBA for the honor.

“Sports makes life better. It helps women become more successful and feel more confident. It is wonderful because young women do need role models, and young women need to know that they can achieve,” said Williams. “We are all here because we believe in women’s sports, we believe in women’s basketball, and we believe in women athletes.”

Yes, believing in women’s sports is what elevated women’s participation in Olympics events from 13% in 1964 to 44% in 2012.

Believing in women’s basketball is why the U.S. National Team has won five consecutive gold medals and 100 million girls and women worldwide play basketball.

Believing in women athletes is how two teenagers from Compton California began playing tennis simply because it was their dream, and now their careers are bigger than they ever imagined.

Nothing short of inspiring. 

Good Night Sports Fans,

Alana 

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