On day one of Seattle Storm training camp earlier this week, it wasn’t hard to sense the energy in the gym. The stereo system was blasting hip-hop music, and with three No. 1 draft picks on the same court for the first time, you could feel the excitement as the Storm commenced its journey.
Perhaps the one who displayed the most energy of all was veteran guard Monica Wright. She hasn’t even played a game for Seattle yet – Wright missed the final two months of last season after being acquired via trade – but she was the one challenging her new teammates with stifling defense, setting the tone and intensity of practice alongside the other veterans.
Most of all, it’s because she’s fired up to be healthy again. Wright has constantly battled injuries during the last two years, including a pair of knee surgeries and another minor setback that caused her to miss a total of 37 games.
“I’m extremely excited. I’m glad to be healthy,” she said this week. “I’m happy to be completely cleared by the doctors and able to participate in training camp.”
Wright has been back on the court for a while now – she played in Iceland for two months late in the offseason – but her main focus since last year’s knee surgery was to be prepared for Storm training camp. This week is the culmination of her long and painful road to recovery, one that featured everything from yoga to massages and actual basketball drills.
“Just doing whatever the physical therapist and the doctor asked me to do,” Wright said. “Basically having a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude.”
That kind of attitude, as head coach Jenny Boucek pointed out, has earned Wright the respect of her Seattle teammates in a short time span.
“We’re all rejoicing with her,” Boucek said. “She had a career-threatening situation as a player coming into her prime, and she could have been defeated by that. But she put in a ton of work. So just seeing her, physically, starting to look like her old self, we’re all rejoicing with her. We know where she was at, and we know how hard she’s worked to get to this point.”
Just as Wright is thrilled to be on the court again, the Storm is equally excited that she’ll be wearing the green and yellow this year. Even before the trade with Minnesota was completed last summer, Wright had been on Seattle’s radar for years, partly due to Boucek’s familiarity with her. They both played at the University of Virginia, and Boucek has been somewhat of a mentor to Wright since the latter entered the WNBA.
That’s part of why Wright feels so comfortable in her first training camp with the Storm. Boucek’s presence isn’t the only reason, though.
“A lot of it just has to do with the personalities on the team,” Wright said. “I think the players here are phenomenal. Their off-court personalities and character are second to none. I come from a great team in Minnesota, but I can’t say enough great things about the girls on this team.”
So with Wright and the other new pieces that were added, can the Storm make some noise this year?
“Absolutely,” she said. “The higher-ups did a great job of putting together a great team.”