Babcock McGraw: Sky's Delle Donne already a winner; MVP voting on tap
Just got my WNBA postseason awards ballot.
It's been more fun in recent years to contemplate these awards now that the Chicago Sky is a contender and multiple players from the team are in the mix for consideration.
Reserve guard Allie Quigley is in the running to win her second straight Sixth Woman of the Year award. And point guard Courtney Vandersloot is a leading candidate for the most improved player award.
Of course, forward Elena Delle Donne, who leads the WNBA in scoring (23.7 ppg) and free throw percentage (95.5) and is second in rebounding (8.8 rpg), should walk away with a few key distinctions, definitely all-WNBA first team, and likely the league's most valuable player.
This will be in addition to the award Delle Donne will be presented with before Sunday's Sky game against the Seattle Storm (5 p.m., Allstate Arena). On Thursday, the WNBA announced that Delle Donne was selected for the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award, for charitable work that Delle Donne did in 2014.
It's the second straight year Delle Donne, especially active in the Chicago community during the off-season, has won the award.
"It's a huge honor," Delle Donne told me Thursday before leading the Sky to a huge win over the first-place New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden. "I grew up with my parents teaching me that if you have the spotlight and have been given gifts and you can impact others, you need to do something with that. I was always raised to give back."
Delle Donne saw firsthand from a young age how important charitable organizations are. Her older sister Lizzie was born blind and deaf and suffers from autism and cerebral palsy. Lizzie grew up participating in various Special Olympics events and Delle Donne recently became a global ambassador for Special Olympics.
She's hosted basketball clinics for Special Olympic athletes and has made hospital visits.
"I do a lot with Special Olympic athletes at my camps," Delle Donne said. "I do a lot in schools. Anything with kids. I love kids."
Meanwhile, Delle Donne has also been active in the Lyme disease community. Delle Donne has battled the disease herself for six years and missed a majority of last season when she was hit with a flare-up that made getting out of bed tough.
Delle Donne became the first national ambassador for the Lyme Research Alliance, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness and funding for Lyme disease research and prevention. She appears at LRA events all over the country. She also works with LymeAid 4 Kids, which is where the WNBA (as part of the Staley award) will be sending a $10,000 donation in Delle Donne's honor.
"LymeAid 4 Kids helps to pay for treatments for kids," Delle Donne said. "A lot of medical care for Lyme is expensive and not covered by insurance."
Delle Donne would like to someday create her own foundation, which would be dedicated to aiding Special Olympics athletes and Lyme disease patients.
"This is definitely a strong passion for me," Delle Donne said. "I feel like I can really make a difference and have an impact."
Back home again?
It's back to the UIC Pavilion for the Chicago Sky.
The Sky got bumped out of its home, Allstate Arena, last season for the WNBA Finals because of a Garth Brooks concert.
This year, it's Marvel Universe Live! that is causing a playoff change of venue for the Sky. The Sky, which secured a playoff spot last week, will host its first-round playoff games at UIC Pavilion instead of Allstate Arena.
The playoffs begin on Thursday, Sept. 17, with the pairings and dates being announced on Sunday, Sept. 13.
UIC was the full-time home of the Sky from its inception in 2006 to 2009. The Sky's first season at Allstate Arena was 2010.
Playoff tickets are on sale now and start at $19. For more information, call (866) SKY-WNBA or visit www.chicagosky.net.
• Follow Patricia on Twitter at @babcockmcgraw.