The WNBA is conducting youth basketball clinics all over the country this fall, and on Tuesday the “Watch Me Work” program held a session in the Seattle area.
At Eastlake High School in nearby Sammamish, Storm forward Alysha Clark and longtime clinician Donnie Arey helped about 75 boys and girls learn some fundamentals of the game. Arey has worked with the WNBA and NBA for many years, including a clinic alongside the Storm at the White House after its championship ceremony in 2010.
On Tuesday, Clark participated in various drills with the kids before sharing some advice at the very end. She talked about the importance of eating well, how she made it to the WNBA and why extra preparation can be crucial in sports. Before addressing anything related to basketball, the former Atlantic Sun All-Academic Team member started her speech by emphasizing hard work in the classroom.
“Above all, you won’t be able to play basketball if you don’t have the grades in school,” Clark told the kids. “As hard as you work on the basketball court, do the same thing in the classroom. Listen to your teachers, study for tests and get your homework done. As you get older and get to high school, if you’re not eligible you can’t play basketball. So you have to take care of that first.
“What you learn on the basketball court – in in terms of discipline, how to work with your teammates and how to overcome challenges – also applies in school. They definitely go hand in hand.”
Clark and her Storm teammates are in the midst of preparing for a playoff run, as they clinched a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2013. Last month, the five-year veteran put on youth clinics in Israel alongside other WNBA and NBA players.
“Just seeing how happy the kids are, and getting to show them what I’ve learned along the way, is the most rewarding part for me,” Clark said after Tuesday’s event. “They’re still at the age where this is something they enjoy doing, and you don’t want to ever take that away. I think that’s something that, even as professional athletes, we seek. We want to enjoy what we’re doing. Even though it’s a job for us, we never want to lose that passion that first got us into it.”
Presented by Spalding, the “Watch Me Work” tour has also made recent stops in Denver and Dallas. Clinics will be held later this fall in Chicago, Detroit, Houston and the two cities represented in the WNBA Finals.
“It’s celebrating the WNBA and all the progress it has made in 20 years,” Clark said of the program. “To be able to go all around the country and do these clinics, I think it speaks for itself in terms of how much the league has grown. It’s about getting more people involved, more people aware of the league and the great ambassadors we have.”