The Deep Impact of a Fever Championship
By Manny Randhawa -
When Coach Lin Dunn and her Indiana Fever players hoisted up the franchise’s first WNBA championship trophy last fall, hundreds of thousands of people witnessed the historic moment. Many of those people were children. And many of those children were girls who saw just how far they could go as women in sports, particularly basketball.
Walt Raines thinks that the Fever championship run speaks volumes about the importance of women’s athletics. “I think it opened many eyes to how good these athletes were,” Raines says. “Many people had the illusion that they were winning because they were playing another group of women. The reality is they are just great athletes and people.”
Raines is the director of the Indy Girls Hoops League, which gives girls age 8 to 14 the opportunity to learn and play basketball under the tutelage of high school coaches. The IGHL is composed of more than 200 teams with 2,000 girls participating, and Raines says he wouldn’t be surprised if the recent up-tick in sign-ups didn’t stem from the Fever championship: “We did have an increase of about 40 teams from the Fall to the Winter league. Whether it is caused by the Fever success is something to think about, but we definitely had an increase.”
With what the Fever were able to accomplish in 2012, Raines believes that not only is the future bright for women’s professional sports, but that young girls who dream of one day competing at a high level now have even more encouragement to reach for their goals after witnessing the feats of their local heroes.
“I think it will have a very positive affect on our current players,” he says. “They can see there is a future for female athletes, past high school and college even here in Indiana. It has to have a positive affect on them.”
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