Following four championships in seven seasons, the Minnesota Lynx have turned the page into a new chapter. New voices inside the huddle growing louder.
Gone is Lindsay Whalen, who is prepping for her third season in charge of the University of Minnesota women’s basketball program. Maya Moore is using the platform she built by becoming one of the most decorated players on the planet to be a catalyst in social justice reform. Rebekkah Brunson is now on the bench alongside Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve. Seimone Augustus departed for Los Angeles in the offseason after 14 seasons in Minnesota.
2017 WNBA Most Valuable Player Sylvia Fowles is all that remains from Reeve’s 2017 championship squad. Last season, veteran Karima Christmas-Kelly signed with Minnesota, instantly providing leadership as a co-captain alongside Fowles before a knee injury sidelined her for the second half of 2019.
While it’s fairly uncommon for second-year players to assume leadership roles, Reeve is trusting in second-year forward Napheesa Collier to join Fowles and Christmas-Kelly as a captain in the single-site 2020 season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
“I felt really honored when I was approached to be a captain, especially in my second year,” Collier told media via Zoom. “I take it very seriously. I wanna be what Syl and some of the other captains were for me last year: someone they can talk to, look up to, and can lead by example.
“Even though I’m not a vet, I definitely want to be that person for anyone on the team.”
Collier is not known for being an outspoken personality, tending to follow the ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’ West African proverb she had painted on custom sneakers last season. However, she’s been working on raising her voice and being more vocal since her junior and senior seasons at UConn.
“My leadership style is usually more ‘lead by example,’ but the past couple years — especially in college— I stepped into that more vocal role,” the 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year explained. “It’s something I’ve been trying to grow at and trying to get better at. It’s something I’m trying to bring to [the Lynx] now.”
Collier, along with the veteran tutelage of Fowles and Christmas-Kelly, will be counted on to bring the Lynx together, given the unique challenges of the 2020 single-site season in Florida.
“It is really crazy,” Collier said of the campus environment and 2020, in general. “There’s so many things that are out of our control right now. We can’t control the things that are going on in the world, but we can control our attitude. We don’t want to be the team that’s complaining. Everyone is in the exact same situation. There’s nothing we can do about it; we’re doing our best. We’re here to play, which is what we all wanted.
“You’ve just got to stay positive, especially as captains. We have to lead for our team; we have to set a good example. We need to make sure everyone is having the same mindset because if [another team is] complaining, then us as a team, we can get ahead. While [they’re] busy doing that, we’re busy practicing and making the best out of the situation.”