Chicago Sky balance pursuit of a title, role in social activism as WNBA season begins

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The Chicago Sky practice at IMG Academy ahead of the start of their 2020 WNBA season.

BRADENTON, Fla. – Just because a team is in a bubble doesn’t mean their goals have to be as well.

That’s certainly the case for what will be another Chicago sports team that will get going this week in another isolated environment. James Wade’s Chicago Sky enter the WNBA’s “bubble” at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida with a few goals.

From a competitive side, there is the hope to compete for a championship after a promising 2019 season that saw the group end a three-year playoff drought. They also got a postseason victory and were on the doorstep of another until Las Vegas hit a desperation half-court shot to sneak out a second round win.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment since, whatever it was, last September-ish, around the end of last season. I think we were just starting hitting our stride, and it was kind of taken away from us a little too quick,” said guard Courtney Vandersloot. “I think we’ve been kinda been waiting and preparing for this moment to show the Chicago Sky is the real deal.”

That chance will come this Saturday, ironically, against the team that eliminated the Sky in heartbreaking fashion last fall. They’ll take on the Aces at 2 PM on Saturday to start their 22-game season in Bradenton with the hope of winning their first championship in franchise history.

The team has been working toward that goal in the bubble, keeping their focus on improving on a 20-14 season that included a playoff win over Phoenix.

“We’re all just excited, focused,” said forward Diamond DeShields, a 2019 All-Star who is one of the best young players in the WNBA. “We’re all pretty locked in on the season, and that’s the mentality of the team is trying to build off last year.”

Yet in this extraordinary time, the efforts on the court for the team don’t just stop with playing basketball. As with the rest of the NBA, the Sky are active on social media when it comes to social justice, especially in light of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Derek Chauvin.

Guard Sydney Colson posted a picture of her jersey on Instagram which will have the name “Breonna Taylor” on the back.

Forward Gabby Williams said the team will be starting a “Sky For Change” initiative to raise money helping organizations that aid Chicago communities. She said the team will donate $10 dollars for every point and $100 for every victory the team has during the WNBA season.

“I think it’s great to have ‘Black Lives Matter’ written on the court, Breonna Taylor’s name, they need to be shown, but it needs to go beyond words,” said Williams. “Us as a team, we all wanted to do something that felt personal and felt like we were taking action.”

All will be taking part in Bradenton over the next few months as the team takes the court with a number of tasks to complete.

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