No easy offseason for Sky's Delle Donne
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Unlike most of her contemporaries in the WNBA, Elena Delle Donne isn't spending the offseason playing overseas.
And yet the Chicago Sky star might be busier than all of them.
Delle Donne, the 2013 WNBA rookie of the year, stayed in Chicago so she could get into the community and help promote the Sky and the league. She's been doing everything from running clinics, to doing public appearances and speaking at schools.
Friday, she gladly accepted another assignment that will take her from grass-roots to global. Delle Donne is now the global ambassador for Special Olympics, an organization that has long been near and dear to her and her family.
Lizzie, Delle Donne's older sister, has autism and cerebral palsy, and has been blind and deaf since birth. She has participated in Special Olympics initiatives such as the Motor Activities Training Program.
"I'm so proud to serve as a global ambassador for Special Olympics, given their mission is so important to me," Delle Donne said. "I've always loved working with Special Olympics and being able to get on the court and see young people with and without intellectual disabilities passing the ball and playing together."
Delle Donne will participate in the NBA's upcoming all-star game in her role as ambassador and will take a lead in Special Olympics' "Spread the Word to End the Word Day" on March 5.
"Our goal is to raise awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities," said Janet Froetscher, CEO of Special Olympics International. "Elena is a powerful force who will help us deliver this mission around the world. Not only is she a highly skilled athlete, but her passion for our organization shines and I know she will help us reach many more athletes."
Speaking of the Olympics, which event from Sochi are you most interested to watch?
I always enjoy figure skating and will keep an eye on Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the best hope for a figure skating medal for the United States. They will be performing in the short dance team event on Saturday.
Young point guards need to pay attention to DePaul junior Brittany Hrynko, who will be in action Sunday when the Blue Demons host Creighton in a pivotal Big East showdown (noon, McGrath-Phillips Arena).
Hrynko was recently named to the 16-player "watch list" for the 2014 Dawn Staley Award, which is presented to the nation's best guard in Division I women's basketball.
Hrynko, a spunky playmaker with a fun, poofy ponytail and a host of tattoos, is cut from a cloth similar to Staley. Both grew up in Philadelphia, came up through the public schools there and are proud to show their East Coast edge. Staley was a star at the University of Virginia before becoming a U.S. Olympian and a WNBA all-star. She now coaches at South Carolina.
In October, Hrynko was named the preseason Big East player of the year. She's been asked to try out for USA Basketball's World University Games team in May.
Like Staley, Hrynko often makes the tough passes look easy. She ranks second in the Big East with 5.5 assists per game. She can also create shots for herself either off the dribble or well-beyond the 3-point arc. She is averaging 12.6 points per game.
The inaugural Dawn Staley Award went to Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins last year. This year's award will be announced at the Women's Final Four in April.
Two Big Ten players, Maggie Lucas of Penn State and Rachel Banham of Minnesota, are also on the list.
Sunday's DePaul game against Creighton has been tabbed as a Play4Kay game in honor of legendary North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2009.
Since 2007, Play4Kay games and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund have raised more than $10 million for cancer research.
For the Creighton game, all cancer survivors are eligible for two free tickets. Fans can also sign up to walk or volunteer for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, which will be in Chicago May 31-June 1.
Kudos to Magic Johnson for stepping up and buying the Los Angeles Sparks, along with partner Mark Walter, the chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I love basketball and I love women's basketball," Johnson said Wednesday. "So this was really simple and easy for Mark and I."
Around the holidays, the previous owners of the Sparks announced they could no longer fund the team and ceased operations. Prepared to leave Los Angeles, the Sparks were on the brink of folding.
"It's wonderful to know that a team like the Sparks will stay in this beautiful city," Johnson said. "We're ready to go."
• Patricia Babcock McGraw also serves as a color commentator for Chicago Sky games and DePaul women's basketball broadcasts. You may contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter@babcockmcgraw.
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