The U.S. women’s national hockey team and, more recently, the women’s national soccer team have both challenged their respective governing bodies as they fight for pay equality. WNBA. But President Nneka was also a constant presence in nitty-gritty planning meetings for the bubble. “She’s very work-minded,” says Erica, 22, a former Rice guard who went in the third round of April’s WNBA draft but is currently attending med school. That’s just her M.O. As Bird declares, “I think she will go down as the person who changed the trajectory, changed the direction of the WNBA and the WNBPA.”. She really plays into that and really speaks to us.”, “We’re really trying to get player engagement as much as we can, because obviously it involves us,” Ogwumike said. Ogwumike graduated from Stanford with a psychology degree in 2012, but she never stopped being a student. With over 50 awards and honours, the Nigerian-American pro basketballer stands out in the Women's National Basketball Association. She will never be confused for a flashy player, but her screens are set with strength; her back cuts are made with precision; her hustle and smarts have netted four appearances on the all-defensive first team; and she never seems rushed with the ball in her hands, calmly sizing up opponents before making her move. She does her homework,” Chiney Ogwumike said. In recent years, the WNBA has watched as other female pro sports have commanded the pay equity conversation. It doesn’t help that her game isn’t flashy — it’s all about efficiency. That’s usually something you give to a task force to work on.” Several star players, such as Minnesota’s Maya Moore and Washington’s Natasha Cloud, opted out of the season to focus on similar causes. It’s no wonder, then, that the players of the WNBA turned to the “league nerd” to lead them into the future. “Even at practice now, everyone calls her ‘Madam President’ because she is that efficient in what she does.”. All the while WNBA players have remained front and center in the national fight for social justice, as they have for Ogwumike’s entire tenure as the face of their union. That’s why she’s so efficient.”, This relentless drive no doubt serves Ogwumike well in handling her twin leadership roles on the Sparks, the only franchise she’s known after going No. It’s why Chef Nnek, evidently fed up that her sisters kept swiping her freshly baked cinnamon muffins, once left a note banning Olivia and Erica from eating any more until they learned the recipe themselves. But Nneka was not having that.”, For Jackson, the moment was a stark contrast with her early impressions of Ogwumike. Ogwumike would finish her Stanford career as a three-time All-American and the second all-time leading scorer in program history. Chris Webber, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh and Ben Wallace will join the WNBA's Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson as players inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. From her perch as the highest-ranking member of the executive committee of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, an office she has occupied since October 2016, President Nneka (or, if you prefer, Madam President) governs by the will of the people. “Thousands in the stands, obviously higher pay, more eyes on us, more partnerships, more sponsorships, even better basketball, I see all of that,” Ogwumike says. The reality for Ogwumike is, despite the improvements she hopes to help shepherd into the league, she and many other league vets may not be able to experience the full fruits of their advocacy in the long term. Once the suburban campus was chosen, Engelbert remembers Ogwumike’s quick inquiry about the availability of bicycles. She knew that folks were in need.”. She is the older sister of Chiney Ogwumike, who also plays for the Sparks. “There’s a reelection, so the transparency is obvious, I guess,” she says. Raphael Warnock, whose campaign donations swelled as a result of the support. “They were always good questions.”. “It’s a structural issue,” she added. A great to read, long, in-depth article on Nneka and her leadership impact on so many things. “That did not have to happen,” Jackson says. “She’s proven that she can get things done.”. Nneka Ogwumike Is a President for the People On the court, the Los Angeles Sparks forward operates with patience and precision. “It allows me to set the tone for how I can receive the day, and how I tackle the day,” she says. Nneka really checks these boxes.” Bird singles out President Nneka’s directness in diplomacy: “There’s not a lot of b------- to Nneka. Some are merely run-of-the-mill sports fare, such as Nek, Nek Nek, Nnekanator, and Guma, a rare surname riff (pronunciation: Oh-gwoo-MIH-kay). Nnemkadi “Nneka” Ogwumike (pronounced NEH-kuh Oh-gwoo-MIH-kay) doesn’t roll off American tongues with the same ease as, say, Sue Bird, Maya Moore or Tina Charles. “Always trying to teach us,” Erica says. Nneka Ogwumike PRESIDENT "I am looking forward to serving as EC President and having a voice that will be heard, while representing, collaborating with, and leading our players' union." Interest-Based Ads. (This humility was later apparent in how long it took her youngest sister to learn that President Nneka had been elected, unopposed, to succeed Catchings: “She did it for a year,” Erica Ogwumike says, “and I had no idea.”) And second, that Ogwumike approached situations in the boardroom with much the same diligence and patience as she did defenses on the basketball court. Nneka Ogwumike (center) and sister Chiney Ogwumike (right) of the Los Angeles Sparks talk to each other on the bench during a game against the Connecticut Sun at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Aug. 25. “Our movement has found its moment, and we’ve capitalized on that moment,” Ogwumike says. That’s the formula Ogwumike has used to topple obstacles, according to her sister and Sparks teammate Chiney Ogwumike. Then came talks to build the “Wubble” and stage the 2020 season, which passed its midway point last week. Whether it was adjusting to a new system, new teammates or the rigor of a Stanford education, Ogwumike struggled. “We had that because Nneka raised [the issue] to me. Against college-level players, though, athleticism alone wouldn’t be enough. From when she was a freshman at Stanford she has been our favorite player. And it’s how President Nneka approached the daunting task of rallying WNBA players for the long grind of labor bargaining. And she ranks fifth all-time in WNBA history. There is always the possibility that both sides won’t come to an agreement before the start of the next season. Her sisters opted to quarantine there, too, including Erica, who soon began accompanying Nneka on her exhaustive morning workouts. She reps Stanford’s “Nerd Nation” with pride. “She asks me a lot of questions about parenting,” says Ogwumike’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas. Perhaps it’s why the names of big-time talents such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Hakeem Olajuwon are often interchanged with monikers such as “The Greek Freak” and “Hakeem the Dream.”, “My name is not easy to say,” Ogwumike, 29, said. “It’s kind of like a one band, one sound type of deal. Ogwumike has a similar outlook about those who haven’t yet climbed aboard the WNBA bandwagon. During quarantine Nneka Knows spent days down a rabbit hole comparing chemicals in various Korean skin care products. ‘Get back into the kitchen’: A WNBA roundtable on sexism in basketball, WNBA Kicks proving female players are sneakerheads too, Black female athletes: Things are better, but far from fair, Erica Wheeler has made it — to WNBA All-Star Weekend, It’s Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, and WNBA players are speaking out, wouldn’t be able to achieve pay equity without a strike. And Sparks teammate Chiney Ogwumike to score with his match-winner against West Brom only their sober,. Raphael Warnock, whose movement has found its moment if you don ’ t be able achieve! Also a constant presence in nitty-gritty planning meetings for the Los Angeles Sparks forward Ogwumike... One sound type of thinker that she is. ”, Nneka never makes them about those haven! Salary increases, improved travel accommodations, and a season dedicated to Breonna Taylor and justice. 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