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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Delle Donne among SI ‘fittest’ with Chicago ties

Via Chicago Tribune

Chicago native Dwyane Wade and the Sky’s Elena Delle Donne made Sports Illustrated’s Fittest 50 list, along with several other athletes with Chicago-area ties.

The list, the magazine’s breakdown of the 50 male and 50 female pinnacles of strength, speed, endurance and agility, also includes NASCAR’s Danica Patrick, a Roscoe native, and Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker, who hails from Naperville.

“From pull-ups to battle ropes and sled pulls, the 30-year-old mom of one puts in the work off court and it’s paid off so far in her career,” SI writes about Parker.

The magazine praises Patrick for her CrossFit training and yoga, notes Delle Donne’s boxing drills and TRX exercises, and lauds the 34-year-old Wade for putting in work at for biomechanics-focused gym.

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/ct-dwyane-wade-elena-delle-donne-si-fittest-50-20160523-story.html

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The unlikely media interest in all things women’s sports


It may seem strange on the surface that women’s lifestyle media company Refinery29, which focuses on fashion and beauty, would be branding out into sports coverage. But with the lack of media in the women’s sports space, it might have a fighting chance.

“It’s a layup for us,” said Refinery29 co-founder Philippe von Borries. “It’s a space where we should be. It makes complete and utter sense. For us, it’s always been a commitment to categories where we’re celebrating women and amazing achievement, and building a community of incredible female voices. Last but not least, it’s a huge commercial category.”

The digital network is launching a YouTube channel called “Brawlers,” which includes a series following athletes like United States Paralympic Jessica Long. It also will profile hula hoop world record holder Marawa The Amazing, as well as launch a health-and-fitness series called “60 Seconds to Fit.” Olympics content is also in the works.

Even before its announcement in early May during the digital content Newfronts for advertisers, Refinery29 secured Smartwater as a sponsor.

Just how sparse is coverage for women’s sports? The Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesotasays that 40 percent of all sports participants are women — but only 4 percent of sports media coverage is dedicated to those sports.

A June 2015 Gallup poll found that 66 percent of men are sports fans, but so are 51 percent of women. What’s more, higher-income men and women (meaning they had a household income of $75,000 or more) were more likely to be sports fans than those who were middle or lower income.

For leagues like the NFL, women now make up 45 percent of their fan base. And thanks to their FIFA World Cup win in 2015, the U.S. women’s soccer team is helping raise American interest in the sport among both genders.

“There’s going to be a tipping point from an advertiser standpoint and from a broadcaster standpoint,” said David Selby, managing partner and president of agency Schafer Condon Carter. “It’s obviously the right thing to do. There’s a huge level of interest to market there. I don’t think it’s going to be will women watch women’s sports and men men’s sports. The caliber and entertainment value of watching the (women) athletes is pretty amazing.”

Refinery 29 isn’t the only one creating more content about female athletes. Fox also announced a drama series on Monday in partnership with the MLB called “Pitch.” The show will revolve around the first female pro baseball player, which the network called “a true story … on the verge of happening.”

At its NewFront presentation in early May, Conde Nast Entertainent touted its digital series “Why I” late last year, which is tied to Selfmagazine. The profile series follows women athletes to find the motivation behind why they do what they do. Its debut clip in November, which featured MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, was Self‘s top performing video on Facebook that year.

Nickolas James, executive producer at Conde Nast Entertainment, admitted that in the past there weren’t that many female athletes to cover. But thanks to the women’s World Cup win and other high-profile leagues like the WNBA, more women want to read about sports. James also points out that these profiles are “guaranteed to be extraordinary, positive and uplifting — something any brand would want to be associated with.

“Male athletes have multimillion dollar contracts,” said James, executive producer of “Why I.” “For women it’s not about the fame or glory, it’s because they love the sport.”

Despite the potential, some media buyers say that much of the media and advertisers still are hesitant to commit to women’s sports coverage. One cited the lack of viewership compared with men’s sports. Another source pointed out that many media companies and brands “are full of guys who have been doing sports for the last 25 years, and they just don’t get (the appeal of women’s sports).”

Even this crop of women’s sports coverage doesn’t highlight live sports. It’s mostly profiles, and, in the case of Fox, fictionalized sports stories. While ESPN touted women like MLB analyst Jessica Mendoza, ESPN The Magazine and ESPNw editor-in-chief Alison Overholt and “His and Hers” host Jemele Hill during its upfront presentation on Tuesday, it still emphasized that its key demographic and programming was for young men.

But digital could become the testing ground, and if it succeeds, it could lead to more coverage. Nick Bourne, chief commercial officer at Bigballs Media, which runs two of the largest digital soccer video brands, said digital has more leeway to experiment with women’s sports content. Young women are more likely to be on digital platforms compared with men, he said.

For example, Pew Research Center reported that 76 percent of women who use the internet use social networking sites, versus 72 percent of men. Nielsen has also reported that more women get their news from social media (28 percent) than men (25 percent), as well as are more likely to use it for entertainment (48 percent versus 45 percent).

“It’s got the role models,” Bourne said. “It’s got the stories, especially when you look at women’s soccer. It’s perfect for digital because when you look at where the young females are, they are on digital rather than TV.”

Update: A previous version of this article stated that Refinery 29 said that Elena Delle Donne would be a part of the “Brawlers” series. After publication, Refinery 29 notified CNBC that she will no longer appear because of a scheduling conflict.

Original Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/20/the-unlikely-media-interest-in-all-things-womens-sports.html

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Delle Donne shines in return home

Via The Review

Delaware alumna and reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne led her team to victory on Sunday as her Chicago Sky defeated the New York Liberty 93-59 in a preseason game at the Bob Carpenter Center.

After being introduced to a standing ovation, Delle Donne found success early on in the game. The Sky dominated the first quarter and continued applying pressure to the Liberty, resulting in an 18-point lead at halftime. Delle Donne ended up with 17 points in only 15 minutes of play.

Adut Bulgak added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Liberty while shooting 50 percent, and Sugar Rodgers chipped in 10 points, while only shooting 25 percent from the field.

It was recently announced that Delle Donne will be playing for the women’s basketball team at this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Delle Donne will be joined in Brazil by Liberty player Tina Charles.

Delle Donne said playing in the Olympics will be a dream come true, and that there’s nothing that will prep her better for the Olympics than playing against what she called “the best players in the world” in the WNBA.

Rookie center Imani Boyette added 10 points and five rebounds to the stat sheet for the Sky. Boyette said her excitement in taking the court with Delle Donne for the first time culminated in her inability to make a layup during warm-ups because of how nervous she was.

“I feel like I’m dreaming,” Boyette said. “Her [Delle Donne] following is amazing, her fans are so great. They even embrace me, and I’m like a nobody.”

Delle Donne credited the university with helping to shape her and to prepare her well for life in the WNBA.

“Delaware is such a tough academic school, so it was really challenging,” Delle Donne said. “I had to learn a lot about time commitment and how to weigh everything out, so it prepared me for the real world. Delaware was incredible for me.”

While thanking the crowd after the game, Delle Donne said she’s forever grateful for her fans back home and that she looks forward to bringing the Sky back to Delaware next year.

“We’re definitely the Chicago Sky, but today, and any other time we’re on the East Coast, we’re the Delaware Sky, too,” Delle Donne said.

Original Source: http://udreview.com/delle-donne-shines-in-return-home/

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Delle Donne to Make Olympic Debut


Playing in the Summer Olympics will be part of a very full 2016 for UConn star and recent WNBA No. 1 draft pick Breanna Stewart. She was among the 12 players named Wednesday to the U.S. women’s basketball team for the upcoming Rio Games, and one of three first-time Olympians.

Also making their Olympic debuts will be Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne, who was the WNBA’s MVP last season, and Phoenix’s Brittney Griner. The Americans will be seeking their sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal. Stewart is coming off a fourth consecutive NCAA title with the Huskies, and she was selected first in the draft by Seattle, where she’ll start her professional career.

“It’s definitely been a great year,” Stewart said. “I’ve had a lot of great things happen throughout my career, but when you look at the opportunity to be able to go to the Olympics, that was my biggest goal in basketball. Winning a fourth national championship, getting drafted, going to the Storm, and now this. It’s really amazing. I can’t wait to get going and see what happens.”

The rest of the U.S. roster comprises nine of the 10 players who were returning from the 2012 London Olympics.

They are Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles and Lindsay Whalen of defending WNBA champion Minnesota; Seattle’s Sue Bird, Indiana’s Tamika Catchings, New York’s Tina Charles, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry and Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi.

Bird, Taurasi and Catchings are all going for their fourth Olympic gold medal. Catchings has already announced that this will be her final season of play.

Los Angeles’ Candace Parker, who won gold with the U.S. team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, was not chosen for the squad. Parker, 30, is the only active WNBA player who has won the league’s MVP award more than once. She is also the only player off the 2012 Olympic team who was one of the finalists for 2016 but was not picked.

“If you combine the returning 2012 Olympians with the 2014 world champions, you have 15 very qualified candidates,” U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan said in a statement. “Add to that an emerging group of young athletes, and the decision becomes that much harder to settle on a final 12-member roster.

“The good news is that we have developed a deep, talented pool of athletes at each position through our national team program. We are grateful that the very best athletes in our country want to play and push each other to be better whenever our team gathers to train.”

A five-member selection committee made the final decision on the 12 players. The team is coached by UConn’s Geno Auriemma. He had six former Huskies on the team that he coached to a gold medal in the 2012 London Games. This time there are five from UConn: Stewart, Moore, Bird, Charles and Taurasi.

“The committee had a really difficult job this year, because it’s the first time in a long time that a lot more than 12 players could easily have been named to that team,” Auriemma said in a statement. “But the 12 that were named are a great combination of multiple gold-medal winners and great leaders.”

Stewart and Griner played on the 2014 world championship team for the United States. But this will be the first major competition on the senior national team for Delle Donne, who was the No. 2 pick behind Griner in the 2013 WNBA draft. Last season, Delle Donne led the WNBA in scoring at 23.4 PPG and won the MVP award.

“It’s so hard to even put it into words,” Delle Donne said. “Just to think this entire basketball journey I’ve been on has been absolutely incredible, but this has been by far the pinnacle of my career and the best news I’ve ever heard. It’s absolutely a dream come true.”

The Olympics will run from Aug. 5-21. The U.S. team is in Group B along with Canada, Senegal, Serbia and two teams that will earn their berth in the Rio Games at the Olympic qualifying tournament in France from June 13-19.

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/olympics/basketball/story/_/id/15392591/breanna-stewart-elena-delle-donne-12-players-named-us-women-basketball-roster-rio-olympics

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Elena Delle Donne cuts loose with Running Man Challenge

Via Chicago Tribune

You may have seen Elena Delle Donne dunk but you’ve probably never seen her dance.

The Sky forward let down her guard to get goofy on camera Saturday, doing the Running Man Challenge that has been sweeping locker rooms and campuses.

“Am I doing it right?” she asks on Twitter.

For the moment, we’re going to set aside that fact that neither her dance nor all these other dances that are trending are actually the original version of the running man, but whatever. The current fad looks like someone doing a version of the Roger Rabbit while holding a shake weight.

Athletes and students break into the dance while “My Boo” from Ghost Town DJs plays in the background. At least one group has been using the fad to promote muscular dystrophy awareness.

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/ct-elena-delle-donne-running-man-challenge-20160425-story.html

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Women’s Sport Conference Takes Chicago

Via Daily Herald

Girl power emanated from every corner of Morgan Manufacturing, a sleek conference and event space in the West Loop of Chicago, on Wednesday.

It was espnW’s inaugural “Women + Sports Chicago” conference, and movers and shakers in the world of women’s sports were brought in to educate and inspire others.
There were panels of young Olympians, corporate leaders, founders of nonprofits that serve young female athletes, and some big-name athletes including Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne and soccer legend Julie Foudy.

But perhaps one of the best stories in the building was with one of espnW’s own.

Alison Overholt, the editor of espnW, recently was named the editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine. The move makes her the first woman to be the editor of a major sports magazine in the United States.

“When all this first happened, I was just thrilled for the opportunity and some colleagues told me they thought I might be the first woman to hold a position like this and I wasn’t even aware of that,” Overholt said. “I think it says a lot that that part of it was an afterthought. I also think it says a lot that we’ll never have to say that again.

“There will be more women who get to do this moving forward. The path is there now.”

Overholt will keep her title as editor of espnW, an entity that is near and dear to her as a former athlete. Overholt says events such as “Women + Sports Chicago” are important conversation starters.

“This is hugely important, creating this sense of community is so crucial,” Overholt said. “You’re seeing these little pockets of people talking and making connections with each other. I feel like bringing content to life in this way and creating community gathering moments and connecting women to each other and shining a spotlight on women’s sports is vital.”

Hometown hero:

One of the panels at the espnW “Women + Sports Chicago” event included recipients of the Toyota Everyday Heroes award.

Everyday Heroes gives $10,000 checks to women who are working to promote and grow sports for girls and women in their local communities.

This year, Game On! Sports 4 Girls was one of the winners. The organization is based in the Chicago area and was created by Barb Lazarus, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago.

Lazarus created her sports camps for girls in 2007 in an effort to help foster self-esteem and produce healthy, productive children. Game On! served 200 girls during its first summer. Now, going into its tenth summer, Game On! boasts locations in four states.

“This (award) has given a legitimacy to my team and it’s said to us, ‘you’re doing the right thing, you’re making a difference. Keep going. Keep the momentum going,'” Lazarus said. “It was always a dream for me to give back. What sports did for me as a young girl and into high school and college was invaluable.

“There was a point in my life that I was ready to take that leap of faith (leave law to start a nonprofit) and ready to go out on my own and really ready to make that impact of women helping girls and women helping women.”

Roster moves:

While Elena Delle Donne was busy entertaining the crowd at espnW’s inaugural “Women + Sports Chicago” conference on Wednesday, the Chicago Sky was finalizing the players who will surround her on its training camp roster.

One addition of note is homegrown: 6-foot-2 guard Maggie Lyon of Northwestern.

The former New Trier prep star signed a free agent training camp contract with the Sky, which opens training camp on Sunday.

“Maggie’s a tough player with a high basketball IQ,” Sky coach and general manager Pokey Chatman said. “Her ability to shoot and stretch the floor, play without the ball in her hands and finish around the basket makes her a tremendous offensive threat.”

Lyon averaged 16.5 points per game as a senior at Northwestern this season and broke the school’s career 3-point record. She finished with 1,693 career points.

Original Source: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160422/sports/160429443/

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Elena Can Dunk On Either Rim Height


Whether the height of the rims is 9 feet or 10 feet, Elena Delle Donne will dunk on them.

Delle Donne is a proponent of lowering the rims in order to grow women’s basketball, dunking aside. But even if the WNBA keeps the hoops at 10 feet, it doesn’t seem to hold back the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne. She’ll drive to the hoop and slam it down.

Two weeks ago, Delle Donne pulled a Steph Curry by draining 3-pointers from long range. Now she channels her inner Zach LaVine — or Candace Parker — with a dunk of her own.

After this, her new nickname has to be “Delle Dunk.” Right?

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/espnw/culture/the-buzz/article/15222949/elena-delle-donne-dunk-whichever-rim-height-want

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