A Time for Celebration

*This blog originally ran on SportsBlog.com. To view all of Tamika’s blogs, go to tamikacatchings.sportsblog.com.

A time for celebration.

Rosters are finalized, media day is over, and the games have begun! As a league, we are celebrating its 20th year of The W, the greatest and longest standing women’s professional league in the world. This will be yet another memorable season for the history books.

Let us also welcome Terri Carmichael Jackson, OUR Director of Operations at the WOMEN’S NATIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION (WNBPA). Read more about OUR UNION and Terri below.

WNBA Players Association

Our union, our collective voice.

The WNBPA was officially formed on November 6, 1998. The Association is comprised of all WNBA players and is governed by an Executive Committee and Player Representatives from each WNBA team. As the first labor union comprised of professional women athletes, the WNBPA enjoys a unique place in the history of professional sports. Whether you call it the WNBPA or the PA or OUR UNION, you should know that the WNBPA is “committed to protecting the rights of WNBA players and advancing and safeguarding the economic and social welfare of all WNBA players, both on and off the court.”

As you know, this is my final season on the court, and my last official season serving as THE WOMEN’S NATIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION President. I have served in this position since 2004 when I was first passed the baton from Sonja Henning (now Nike executive) and Coquese Washington (now Head Coach, Penn State and our first union president) before Sonja. And it has been both privilege and a pleasure.

The vision and strategic direction of our union is provided by a small team of players who have committed to serving on our EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. As we are all aware it takes a team, and my team includes Jayne Appel, Swin Cash, Nneka Ogwumike and Tanisha Wright. The EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE assists with the CBA, approves the budget and monitors the financials, as well as acts as a buffer or liaison for the players. We are on call and engaged constantly. We look forward to supporting the next round of union leadership.

In fact, I am more excited than ever for the younger players to step up and take ownership of the future of The W. The game is stronger than ever, and each year we see another class of players benefit from on and off the court opportunities. My charge to each new class and each new generation of Union leadership is simply this: always commit to raising the bar.

Well, as we announced a few weeks ago, it’s official: A new Director of Operations, Terri Carmichael Jackson, has started and a steadfast commitment to serving our players is now full steam ahead!

I’m really excited about Terri coming on board and know that she will fulfill a promise to continue moving our Union in a positive direction. While ultimately guided by the NBPA Executive Director, Michele Roberts, our Executive Committee believes that the tag team of Roberts and Carmichael-Jackson will be strong and passionate on our behalf. Terri’s resume speaks for itself and you will get to know her better on her team visits in the coming days. She will implement our vision and carry out our objectives while adding a little of her own flavor, her perspective to the Union. Again, she is committed to us –the membership and the next group on the Executive Committee. Importantly, she is committed to raising the bar.

Finally, on a personal note.

My Catch the Stars Foundation has been preparing our Legacy Tour in 12 WNBA cities as my playing career comes to an end. By that time, I trust you will find that I will have left our Union as pioneers like Henning, Washington before me, would have expected: stronger and more resilient. Understanding the place history will always hold for our league and understanding the role of our Union, I will always be an advocate.

My next step post-season is to figure out what I want to be when I grow up (LOL), start my next career and begin a family. And, if God blesses me with daughters, I hope that because of what we’ve been able to build through the Union and the league, they will have a chance to fulfill their dreams –assuming, of course, that they follow in mom’s footsteps : ) And, if God blesses me with boys then they will appreciate the skills of young women who, like us will come to know and build up The W.

Catch The Stars

Until next time… Best wishes and God Bless!

*This blog originally ran on SportsBlog.com. To view all of Tamika’s blogs, go to tamikacatchings.sportsblog.com.