YWCA of Minneapolis Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kathy Purcell has been a Lynx fan and season ticket member since the beginning. Shes watched closely as the WNBA grew from a new league to its state today, which included a packed house for Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals between Minnesota and Seattle on Friday at Target Center.
Purcell, alongside YWCA Operations Manager Bruce Smith, received an ovation from that crowd as they stood at center court during a second quarter timeout and accepted a $2,000 grant from the Lynx. The grant, presented by Lynx Director of Business Operations Carley Knox, was given to the YWCA of Minneapolis to help in its mission to eliminate racism, empower women and girls and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
In some ways, it was fitting for Purcell to receive the check as the Lynx continued their push toward the Western Conference Finals. Being part of an evening at Target Center with so much energy in the house only ratifies how far professional womens basketball has come over the years, and it mirrors the same trajectory female youth sports have taken over the past four decades.
The sport itself has gotten better, Purcell said. Girls are more and more talented every year. Theyre getting far more training, and the fans are great. Theyre coming out, theyre getting louder. The YWCA is also committed to supporting womens basketball providing a safe, welcoming and competitive venue for women of all ages and abilities to develop their athletic abilities on the court since 1992. The YWCA leagues have grown to over 292 teams making them the largest women's basketball league in the country. Approximately 2,500 women participate annually with nearly 550 in the Silver Fox league for women 40 years and older.
The Lynx as an organization understand the importance of helping young kids get involved in sports and other activitiesnot only so they can set goals for themselves but also to continue promoting physical fitness. The YWCA of Minneapolis is active in the inner city community helping kids set those goals and stay active.
This particular grant money will go toward health, fitness and education for girls and youth sports. One initiative, for instance, is Swim for Change, a program providing swimming lessons to children and youth participating in YWCA programs. In Hennepin County people of color drowned at nearly twice the rate of whites. The YWCA is working to help change that statistic.
Meanwhile, having the Lynx raise awareness for the YWCAs cause and donate money to fund programs goes a long way, Smith said. Not only does it help with the YWCAs initiatives, but it shows the kids that the Lynx and their players care about helping leave a positive impact on area kids.
This grant, coupled with events like Maya Moores youth basketball clinic in early August, give kids an up close look at goals they can set for themselves.
It translates well, because a lot of urban girls get to see girls on the Lynx that are from the inner city and see what they can become, Smith said. It shows them something to shoot for. When we did the Maya Moore camp this summer, we actually had more girls than guys. That was amazing.
Smith said players like Moore are great role models for young people because of how hard she works and the heights shes achieved.
Mayas a superstar, Smith said. Shes an Olympic champion, All-American from college, WNBA champion, and shes the only lady [representing] on Jordan Brand. Thats amazing. I was more in awe than the kids were.
Through working together, the Lynx and the YWCA hope their partnership will not only help kids become healthier and empowered but also help them set goals along the way.
What it gives them is an opportunity to see what they can be, Purcell said. Girls that just look like them, whatever race, whatever culture they are, they can see themselves out there.
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