Give her a ‘high ten’

by Dara Klatt

Celebrating Elena Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics’ Championship.

There’s a lot to celebrate about Elena Delle Donne. The Washington Mystics superstar and WNBA player of the year led the franchise this year to its first WNBA title—all while fighting the severe and
sleep-depriving pain of three herniated disks in her back. “Tough” is almost insufficient a word to describe her Herculean battle to the career-making crown. Already a two-time WNBA Most Valuable
Player and an Olympic and World Cup gold medalist, she proved that she possessed the size, strength, agility and skill to win along the regular season path. But it was the mental prowess and the meditative focus through the sting of injury that actualized this legendary champion. Now presumably sleeping more soundly with a trophy on her pillow, we caught up with Delle Donne to ask about her road to victory.

What does having the WNBA crown—and your first title—mean to you? Honestly, it means everything to me. We battled for this and the amount of work that went into making it here is incredible. It’s a representation of the talent, passion and determination of this team.

The Mystics as champions join the Washington Capitals who won the Stanley Cup and the Washington Nationals who just won the World Series what’s the feeling of being an athlete in this town? Oh, it’s awesome. There’s such an incredible energy in the air.Washington is an amazing city full of some of the most passionate sports fans in the country and when one of the sports teams does well, it gives all the rest the confidence and motivation to do the same.

What do you love most about your team? Describe your camaraderie? Oh man, I mean they’re my family. Everyone plays such an important role in the dynamic of this team and I think our bond as a whole off the court really translated to our success on it. Having Emma [Meesseman] this season was clutch—she was our missing link—and it was awesome to see that playoff grit come out of
her. Tasha Cloud is hilarious and can always brighten the mood and motivate the team after a game no matter what the outcome is. These women are passionate, selfless, leaders, the best of the best. I’m really lucky to call them my teammates.

Tips for little girls out there playing basketball? They can do it too. Many people will probably tell you that you can’t or that you shouldn’t but hopefully my generation and I are changing that narrative. There will be setbacks and challenges along the way but as long as you put in the work and never lose sight of what is most important to you, you’ll accomplish your dream.

What you’re going to enjoy more now? Because of my Lyme Disease, I have to keep a pretty strict diet, especially during the season. It’s nice to be able to indulge in a glass of red wine every now
and then.

What do you plan to do in the off-season? The off-season gives me a huge opportunity to rest, refocus and take care of my body. One of the benefits of not playing overseas during this time is that it allows me to spend more time with my wife, my family and our dogs.

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