Growth of Women’s Game Excites Pohlen
By Erica Rath
This year’s WNBA Finals broke records on ESPN, being the most watched women’s basketball Game ever.
This accomplishment comes the same year we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the law that would change the landscape of women’s sports for good.
Jeanette Pohlen, a current member of the Indiana Fever, credits the current success of the WNBA to some of the women she watched growing up: “Lisa Leslie and Rebecca Lobo, all those players when I was younger, kind of set the tone for all of us coming into the next generation.”
Pohlen grew up playing both soccer and basketball. However, in California, both sports were played in the same season. She chose basketball because she could see a future in it.
“I love the game and everything about it. I have two older brothers so I think that contributed to me choosing basketball. I would always be at their practices and have a ball in my hand. It was really cool watching them, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.”
Pohlen’s athletic ability followed her to Stanford, where she played basketball all four years. During her senior year, she realized she wanted to keep playing.
“At first I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college. But I realized I could keep playing.” Pohlen said. “The WNBA gave me something to work for and it has changed my life.”
Women’s basketball is also getting more recognition at the college level. Big names like Brittney Griner have helped propel women’s college basketball into the spotlight. The NCAA reported that the 2012 Women’s Tournament had very successful ratings, as well.
“When a person gets attached to a player, they will follow them when they leave their team and go watch their new team.” Pohlen explains. “You know some of those players that are there right now, Maya Moore and Griner [who is expected to play professionally], they’ll bring a lot of attention to the WNBA.”
Women’s basketball has slowly made its way into the media and with the popularity of this year’s WNBA Finals, Pohlen and others are optimistic to keep growing the sport.
“So many people that started to come to games to watch a particular player will leave and be like ‘Wow! That was such a great game. It was really competitive!’ Pohlen said.
The WNBA and the Fever has certainly made a mark in Indianapolis earning their spot in the history book with the first franchise championship this year. The sport earned more recognition when Team USA earned gold in London at this year’s Olympic Games.
As many of the Fever players compete overseas in the off-season, Pohlen is focusing on rehabbing her leg from a season-ending ACL tear. However, her hopes for 2013 are bright and she looks forward to defending the title and watching her sport expand.
“I can’t believe I’ve already gotten to win a championship my second year in the league. I hope to come back healthy and hope the WNBA keeps growing.”