Dishin & Swishin 06/19/14 Podcast: Alisha Valavanis takes over in Seattle, Nneka & Chiney Ogwumike shine on and off the court

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We have a great, two-part WNBA-themed podcast for you this week!

In Seattle, Karen Bryant is synonymous with the Storm in many ways. The team celebrates its fifteenth year in the WNBA this season and Bryant has been there since the beginning. Over the years she has tirelessly promoted and elevated both the franchise and the league. However, things come to an end, and July 31 will be Bryant’s final day as President and CEO.

Yesterday, the Storm announced the hiring of their new chief operating officer, effective July 1. We are honored to have Alisha Valavanis as a guest on Dishin & Swishin.

Valvanis has both the basketball and business background to succeed. She played shooting guard at Cal State-Chico (with her twin sister at the point), and worked her way through several coaching positions as well. Valavanis worked in marketing and community relations, progressing until her final job prior to joining the Storm as assistant athletics director of development at the University of California at Berkeley.

Cal women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb told Dishin & Swishin that Valavanis “truly understands the importance and value of women’s basketball and the need for connection with the community to grow the game. Seattle will love her.”

Welcome to the WNBA, Alisha!

Our second part of the podcast features the best sisters in the WNBA. The first siblings to be number one overall draft picks not named Manning. Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike have had an impact on women’s basketball first at Stanford, then onto the WNBA, and through it all, they shine both on and off the court.

The Ogwumikes return to Dishin & Swishin, and its our pleasure to give them another forum to discuss their joint endeavor with UNICEF, raising awareness and money to increase and improve education for girls in their family’s native Nigeria. (Please note that cellular service with two different areas can be difficult sometimes, so we apologize for any difficulty in understanding some of the interview.)

It becomes apparent quickly the deep love they have for not only Nigeria, but Africa in general. It is their culture, their background and influences them daily.

The recent mass kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria brought the issue of education for young women to the forefront, but as they explain in the podcast, this idea had been in the works for quite a while. As Nigerian-Americans they are attempting to reach an eventual goal of giving one million girls in Nigeria access to quality schooling, by providing scholarships for female teachers and establishing safe places for girls to learn.

Nneka and Chiney are reaching out to individuals, AAU programs, and high school teams, encouraging them all to do what they can to help, and are offering prizes such as autographed jerseys, pictures and the chance to interact with them via Google Hangouts for success. You can contribute by going to this website, which is easy to use.

Of course, on the podcast they were nice enough to discuss other topics, including Chiney’s graduation from Stanford this past week and how important it was on Father’s Day to have the whole family together, their time at Stanford, coach Tara VanDerveer’s Nigerian wardrobe, the early season surprise struggles of the Sparks and success of the Sun, their unbreakable bond as sisters, and being able to share new basketball experiences.

So to summarize, Dishin & Swishin brings you a new boss in Seattle, and two tremendous ambassadors from the WNBA this week.

Enjoy the podcast!

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