It’s 2020. What is normal anyway?
The WNBA’s single-site season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. is anything but ideal. One month into their Sunshine State stay, the Minnesota Lynx are beginning to feel as much of a sense of normalcy as possible.
Sunday was the team’s first true day off, and on Monday, the Lynx enjoyed a WNBA-sanctioned and supervised excursion at a private beach on nearby Anna Maria Island.
When she’s not game-planning, Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve spends her downtime meandering through the virtual world of Minecraft with her five-year-old son Oliver, communicating both through her avatar in the popular video game and over FaceTime. In between being one of the WNBA’s most versatile players and planning a wedding, recently engaged Napheesa Collier spends her time binging movies and TV shows while FaceTime-ing her fiancé, Alex, and puppy, Luna. Sylvia Fowles talks to her mom three times a day while watching her nieces and nephews grow up from afar.
Everyone is trying to make the best of the hand the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt the sports world.
“Being away from family is hard for everybody,” Reeve said. “Thank goodness for FaceTime. I can’t imagine a time where we didn’t have that.
“I’m literally on Minecraft every single day to connect with Oliver. Just hearing him play it, it means something to him to see my character in the game just standing there — I don’t know what the hell I’m doing! He’s trying to teach me.”
For players, the bubble environment has been compared to the life players experience while playing overseas during the WNBA offseason. Away from family and friends, technology is the most important in the players’ off-the-court lives.
“It’s like being overseas,” said Bridget Carleton, who spent the winter playing in Australia and around the world with the Canadian National Team. “All you have is FaceTime, Twitter, Instagram… It’s something we’re kinda used to playing overseas.”
While players can focus solely on basketball and recovery when they’re not practicing or playing, it can be hard for coaches not to completely bury themselves in work during this unprecedented occasion. That aspect is something of which Reeve is especially cognizant.
“[Sunday] was the first day off in a while; so [I] got the InstaPot out and made a little dinner just to do something different,” Reeve said in regard to finding recreation in the bubble. “I went and played tennis in the morning, really just tried not to work.”
“That’s the hardest thing about being here in the bubble– it’s that those of us that are not players, all we have is work. That’s been something I’ve been concerned about with everyone — we have to find ways to get away [from basketball], so we can be the very best version of ourselves to our players.”
For the 3-1 Lynx, it’s one month down in the bubble and all is well. The hope is to make that feeling last a couple more.