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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Elena & Lizzie in For The Wind

Via Chicago Tribune

Elena Delle Donne has always been protective of her sister Lizzie.

Yet when Gatorade approached her to do a commercial with Lizzie, who is blind, deaf, and has cerebral palsy, Delle Donne didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“It was really exciting to see it all come together,” Delle Donne said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Friday night. “With Lizzie I’m very protective and general turn down interviews with her. But this was such a special concept so worth sharing with the world. She’s so inspiring and if I can share her gift with as many people as possible and she can inspire some people it’s so worth it.”

The 2-plus minute short “For the Wind” that debuted Friday on the internet shows how the siblings communicate through hand over hand sign language. The reigning WNBAMVP says how wind itself plays a part in her life.

It’s been a rough week for Delle Donne. She had surgery on her injured right thumb and is recovering in Chicago. Then also there was a leak of her health records after a hack into the WADA database that the agency says Russia is to blame for.

“In the end they can say all they want. I’ve never cut corners, I play this game to the best of my abilities and respect the game,” Delle Donne said. “Thanks for showing the world what the doctors have diagnosed me with and the medicines they’ve put me on. It’s sad we live in a world where you can attack people through the cyber world.”

Filming the short with her sister was extremely important to Delle Donne.

“It’s put so much in perspective,” Delle Donne said. “This one was special because it was supposed to come out before playoffs and be a little bit of a pump up. But now it’s pumping me up in other ways. I can talk about her all I want, but until you see the way she interacts with not just me, but my family as well, it’s a really powerful thing to share that with everyone.”

The digital short is the first solo one by Gatorade with a WNBA player. The sports drink company has long been supportive of female athletes having commercials with Mia Hamm, Serena Williams and Abby Wambach.

“Gatorade is committed to the development and advancement of women in the game and we’re proud to their stories on and off the field of play,” said Kenny Mitchell, who is the head of consumer engagement for Gatorade.

Delle Donne said she flew home one day during the season to film the commercial with Lizzie, who she said really enjoyed it.

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/ct-elena-delle-donne-gatorade-digital-short-20160916-story.html

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20-foot EDD sculpture at All-State Arena

Via Red Eye Chicago

As ads go, Gatorade’s art project is pretty cool.

Inspired by Sky star Elena Delle Donne, sculptor Michael Murphy used 1,606 wind spinners and a 20-by-20-foot metal structure outside Allstate Arena to create a piece that changes depending on your perspective. From one angle, the viewer sees a portrait of Delle Donne. From another, one can see Gatorade’s “G” symbol.


Source: http://www.redeyechicago.com/sports/redeye-yes-that-s-a-20-foot-elena-delle-donne-sculpture-20160916-story.html

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Nike welcomes Elena Delle Donne home from Rio

Courtesy of ESPN:

She’s a self-proclaimed sneakerhead (girl has more than 300 pairs of kicks in her closet), and has wornNike gear for as long as she can remember. Elena Delle Donne and her teammates proudly sported the iconic Swoosh logo across their chests from practice to the podium during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. It’s only right that the sportswear and lifestyle brand would host a homecoming event for the gold medalist.

“I’m so honored to be here,” said the Chicago Sky starter and 2015 WNBA MVP. “Nike is like family to me. I’ve been obsessed with the brand since I was old enough to understand what Nike was. I remember feeling like a new person whenever I’d get a new pair of their sneakers.”

The homecoming kicked off on Thursday night at the Michigan Avenue store’s week-long styling series, a promotion that gives shoppers a closer look at its “tech pack” fall collection through one-on-one sessions with some of Chicago’s most notable fashion stylists and wardrobe consultants.

Delle Donne is particularly thrilled about the collection. At 6-foot-5, she admits that finding pieces to fit her stature can be difficult, but this line seems to do the trick. “If you’re tall like me, you’re going to love [the collection]. The arm lengths are great and the pieces just move with you. The [Sportswear Tech Fleece] is probably my favorite.”

She also joked that she’ll have to keep her new favorite top away from her mother, who’s known to raid her closet. “My mom steals all my stuff. So, I’m going to have to hide this from her.”

At the event, which was hosted by Val Warner — a co-anchor for ABC Chicago’s morning show “Windy City Live” — and moderated by fashion stylist BeBe Jones of styling firm Row A Seat 1, experts shared their tips for mastering the season’s most swoon-worthy athleisure trends. Of course, Delle Donne had her own styling secrets to add: “If my jeans don’t fit perfectly, I’ll just roll them up and make them capris. Or, I’ll wear really tall boots so that no one knows that my jeans are really up to here,” she told Warner, as she pointed to her kneecaps. “I make it work.”

Though she jokes about her height, Delle Donne admitted that she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I absolutely love being tall. It makes me unique.”

The recently engaged 26-year-old shared that she and fiancée Amanda Clifton have set a soft date for their upcoming nuptials — which is tentatively slated for November 2017. As for her styling plans for the big day, you can expect to see the athlete in a wedding gown. “Maybe Nike can make you a dress,” Clifton added. “That’s a good idea!” replied Delle Donne.

As for her greatest accessory of all, the basketball star’s Olympic gold medal is displayed on her mantle. “Being in Rio was an absolute dream come true. Getting that medal put around my neck was by far the greatest moment of the whole trip. They’re sending us this awesome wooden case, so I’m going to keep it on display.” She added that getting to catch events that she’d watched since she was a child like swimming and beach volleyball was “pretty special.”

Friday , Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky will play the visiting Seattle Storm. Before the game, Delle Donne likely went through her regular series of game-day rituals: a big breakfast in the morning, a small lunch, and then a half of a bagel with peanut butter right before she gets on the court. She’ll also jam to a playlist that Clifton has created for her, which includes “Closer” by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey.

“I also have gum that I have to chew [before my games]. I’m superstitious about it. I chew a piece during warm-ups and then a new piece for the game. If we’re not playing well, at halftime I switch the piece because it’s clearly the gum’s fault. And if we have a couple losses in a row, I throw the pack away and have to buy a new one. I don’t know where this superstition came from but it just continued to grow.” Seems to be working, so no judgement here!

Lyndsay Green is a Chicago-based style and travel editor and founder of Beauty Atlas magazine, a destination guide for beauty enthusiasts. When she’s not in some far-flung destination testing natural face masks or stocking up on foreign beauty products, you can find her brushing up on her tumbling skills in an adult gymnastics class in the Windy City.

Original Source: http://www.espn.com/espnw/life-style/article/17450188/nike-welcomes-elena-delle-donne-home-rio

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Elena Delle Donne, Nneka Ogwumike Named WNBA Players of the Week

Courtesy of WNBA:

NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2016 Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky and Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks today were named the WNBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Aug. 26 through Sept. 4.

Delle Donne earned Player of the Week honors for the second time this season and the 12th time in her four-year career.  The 2015 WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Samsung led the Sky to a 4-0 week – which covered the first 10 days after the Olympic break – as Chicago improved to 15-13 overall and moved into second place in the Eastern Conference.  Delle Donne leads the WNBA in scoring for the season (22.1 ppg).

Delle Donne paced all WNBA players in scoring (27.3 ppg) and ranked fourth among East players in rebounding (7.3 rpg) last week.  The former Delaware standout opened her week with 34 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 90-82 home win against the Atlanta Dream on Aug. 26.  Two days later, Delle Donne notched 18 points and nine boards in a 92-85 win over the host Dallas Wings.  On Sept. 2, the three-time All-Star scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 92-88 victory against the visiting Seattle Storm.  She capped the week by recording 35 points, six rebounds and four assists in a 97-73 home rout of the San Antonio Stars on Sept. 4.

Ogwumike earned Player of the Week honors for the fourth time in five weeks, the fifth time this season and the ninth time in her five-year career.  The former University of Stanford standout led Los Angeles to a 3-2 week and a tie for the WNBA’s best record at 24-5.  For the season, Ogwumike ranks third in the league in scoring (19.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg).

The three-time All-Star led all Western Conference players in scoring (21.0 ppg), ranked fifth among all WNBA players in rebounding (8.6 rpg) and finished fifth among West players in assists (4.2 apg) for the week.

On Aug. 26, Ogwumike finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in a 79-72 loss to the host Storm.  She had another 28-point performance and added 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in an 87-79 road victory over the Wings on Sept. 2.  Ogwumike capped her week with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds in an 88-81 home win against the Indiana Fever on Sept. 4.

Other candidates for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were the Dream’s Angel McCoughtry, the Connecticut Sun’s Chiney Ogwumike, the Minnesota Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore, the New York Liberty’s Tina Charles, the Storm’s Jewell Loyd and the Washington Mystics’ Tayler Hill.

For more information on this week’s Players of the Week, visit www.wnba.com/awards.


Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-nneka-ogwumike-wnba-players-of-week/

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Inside The Numbers: EDD’s Scoring Surge

Courtesy of WNBA:

Elena Delle Donne won an MVP and a scoring title in 2015. What has she done for an an encore in 2016?

Re-discover her three-point touch, apparently.

Although her per game numbers are slightly down from her MVP season (23.4 ppg to 22.1, 8.4 rpg to 7.2), her scoring from July on has been unmatched by anyone else in the league.

Here is her scoring average broken down by month:

May: 18.8
June: 20.4
July: 23.4
August: 26.0
September: 28.5 (through two games)

EDD has lifted the play of her entire team and it comes at the perfect time with the Playoffs rapidly approaching. Since the break, Chicago is 5-0 and Delle Donne is averaging 25.8 points. Currently the Sky sit at the fourth seed, which would give them a first-round bye and save them from one single-elimination game under the new playoff format.

Delle Donne has already made a career-high 43 three-pointers this season (on exactly 100 attempts) and she still has six games remaining to boost that total. Her 43% from downtown has helped her improve to a career-high 48.6% from the field this season, up 2.6% from her MVP year. After shooting 43.8% from behind the arc as a rookie, EDD regressed by her standards to 36.4% in her second year (when she played only 16 games) and then a career-low 31.6% during her MVP year. Whatever was wrong with her three-point shot appears to have been fixed, making it even harder for opposing defenses to develop a game plan to contend with her all-around offensive game.

The interesting part about her three-point shooting is that she has been much better on the road (51.9%) than at home (32.6%). Otherwise her home and road splits are almost identical, especially in scoring where she averages 22.0 at home and 22.1 on the road. Why has she shot the three-ball so much better on the road than at home?

One explanation is that an MVP-caliber player like EDD steps up her game when her team needs it the most, like road games against the best teams in the WNBA. She’s posted two games with five three-pointers this season: one in Minnesota on July 5th, when she shot 5-of-6 from deep and finished with a season-high 38 points to go along with 10 rebounds; and one on June 24th in New York, where she went 5-of-7 during a 31-point, 8-rebound performance.

Although the Sky lost both of these games, Delle Donne showed that she has the ability to score 30+ on any given night. The Sky are in the driver’s seat with just six games remaining and a half-game lead on the elusive fourth seed. EDD will look to carry her scorching hot September into the Playoffs.

Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-stats-inside-numbers-090716/

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Young Sky fan gets her day in the sun

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune:

The Sky will make Friday a special day for one of its fans. Taliyah Jackson, 17, will sign a one-day contract, address reporters during a news conference and join players in the locker room and on the bench when the Chicago Sky play the Seattle Storm 7:30 p.m. at Allstate Arena.

Jackson, who has muscular dystrophy as well as other debilitating medical conditions, was chosen for the honor as part of a partnership between the Sky and La Rabida Children’s Hospital, where she receives physical therapy. Last year the team gave Kiara Hood, another La Rabida patient with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, the VIP treatment.

On Jackson’s big day, she’ll meet Elena Delle Donne. “Her uncle’s been talking to her about her,” said Denise Smalley, Jackson’s mother. “She knows she’s a good player. Then she also knows she went to the …”

“Olympics!” Jackson chimed in, finishing her mom’s sentence.

On Thursday, Delle Donne said via email that she admires Jackson’s strength and courage and called her an inspiration.

“I know what it’s like to dream about something your entire life like playing professional basketball or playing in the Olympics,” Delle Donne said. “And I can’t wait to watch Taliyah’s dream come true tomorrow.”

Jackson, who starts her senior year at South Shore International College Prep on Tuesday, has come a long way since October 2013, when she first started having seizures, adding a new neurological disorder.

Doctors at Rush University Medical Center diagnosed Jackson with mitochondrial encephalitis and ataxia, which create a rare, degenerative brain condition that, among other things, slows her walking and speech and causes other abnormal movements.

Jackson was hospitalized at La Rabida until February 2014, and during her stay she was visited by Bulls star Jimmy Butler and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She continues to work on her rehabilitation there and hasn’t had a seizure since that time.

Jackson is walking again, and can even run and dribble a basketball, but still requires a wheelchair at times. “If I go to a mall, I know I have to take her wheelchair with me because I know she wouldn’t be able to do a whole mall,” Smalley said. “But she can get around.”


Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chicagoinc/ct-sky-teen-chicago-inc-spt-0902-20160901-story.html

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As WNBA returns, Sky’s Delle Donne reflects on Olympic gold

Courtesy of Daily Herald:

There was a season going on several weeks ago. Now, after a 34-day break for the Olympics, it’s game on again. Strange, but true.

The Chicago Sky, fighting for its playoff life with 10 games left, resumed the 2016 season with a game at Allstate Arena Friday night against the Atlanta Dream. It was a strange moment for Sky star Elena Delle Donne to see her Olympic teammate, Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream, in a different uniform.

Delle Donne and McCoughtry help the United States women cruise in Rio, earning the team’s sixth straight gold medal.

“That was the best part of the whole (Olympic) experience for me … the friendships I made with my teammates,” said Delle Donne, the WNBA’s reigning most valuable player. “We spent so much time together, every single day (for a month). Those are friendships that will last a lifetime.

“When I saw Angel (at Friday’s shootaround), I gave her a big hug. It’s weird to go out and compete against her now. Everyone is kind of friends with everyone (in the WNBA). But this is a little different now with Angel (and the other Olympians). Now, maybe it’s go out and get dinner after the game.”

The U.S. women certainly ate well while in Rio. Delle Donne says one of her best off-the-court moments was dinner at a swanky Brazilian steakhouse after a tour of the “Christ the Redeemer” statue.

“We went as a team and it was amazing,” Delle Donne said. “Seeing that statue and all the amazing views of Rio was really cool. It was great to experience that culture.”

Winning a gold medal was cool, too. Even though the U.S. women, like the U.S. men, were expected to win it all, it was still emotional for the players to finally do it.

“A dream come true,” Delle Donne said of having the gold medal hung around her neck and standing atop the medal stand. “I grew up watching the Olympics. I loved it. I wanted to be there in some way someday. That gold medal is quite a prized possession of mine.”

And, according to Delle Donne, it was harder to come by than everyone else thought.

“Everyone was making it seem like it was so easy for us,” said Delle Donne, a reserve on a team with an average margin of victory in Rio of 38.4 points per game. “It actually was really difficult. Our team had to come together in less than a month and try to gain chemistry, and I remember at the beginning we weren’t playing very beautiful basketball.

“But we were at the end. And that was the amazing part. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in basketball. Great coaching, and everyone was so talented and intelligent and willing to take on a new role if it meant helping the team. It’s just fun to play on a team like that because it can take your game to new heights.”

And yet, USA head coach Geno Auriemma kept all the personalities on an even keel.

“He never made us feel the pressure,” Delle Donne said. “I really liked playing for him. It’s not just the X’s and O’s with him, but he helped us through the pressure with his funny personality. He’s really fun.”

Delle Donne had so much fun she’s already thinking about Tokyo’s 2020 Games.

“I would love to go back,” Delle Donne said. “It was the greatest experience of my life.”

But first, Delle Donne has work to do. She wants to get the Sky back to the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

“This is the weirdest season I’ve ever played in (because of the Olympic break), but I’m ready to get going again,” Delle Donne said. “I was so excited to see my (Sky) teammates again. They’ve been working hard (during the break), doing stadium stairs and beach workouts. I know they are dying to play some games.

“We’ve got some good teams to fight (for a playoff spot). We’re ready.”

Original Source: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160826/sports/160829091/

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Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP: How burnout actually helped my career

Courtesy of CNBC:

Standing at 6 foot 5, Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne looks like she could never be stopped.

But burnout from basketball almost ended her incredible career.

“To be honest, I burned myself out” at one point, Donne told CNBC.

It happened at the end of high school. The young athlete would get up before school to run and lift, attend a full day of school, practice after school with the team, and then train even more on her own after that.

It was too much, and the rising star nearly walked off the court for good.

“I actually gave up the game after high school and put the basketball away for a year,” she said. “I started playing volleyball and set my mind to becoming an Olympian in volleyball.”

While 365 days without practice would be enough to sideline most athletes, Donne came back with full force.

“I knew the second I picked the ball back up and started playing that I wanted to get back into it,” she said.

Burnout, as it turns out, helped Donne rediscover her passion, a key ingredient she says all successful people need.

“You know, sometimes you do have to put it down in order to get the passion back,” said Donne, a 2015 MVP of the Women’s National Basketball Association who plays for the Chicago Sky. “Luckily, I got it back.”

Donne recently took home a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics for the U.S. women’s basketball team.

“There’s going to be times you don’t feel like doing it and you just have to remind yourself — what are you working for, what do you want to be, where do you want to get to?”

WITHOUT THE PASSION, YOU’VE GOT NOTHING. – Elena Delle Donne, Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP

On top of Donne’s already difficult job, since 2008 she has been battling Lyme disease, which often causes serious joint pain and fatigue, among a range of other symptoms. She says her older sister, Lizzie, who is deaf and blind, motivates her to keep striving.

“Without the passion, you’ve got nothing,” she said. “You need the passion to put the practice and preparation in.”

Original Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/25/olympic-gold-medalist-elena-delle-donne-burnout-helped-my-career.html

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