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SBJ/Dec. 20-26, 2010/Opinion
An unwavering advocate
Published December 20, 2010
Quietly this month it was announced that Donna Orender was stepping down as president of the WNBA after more than five years. While Donna and I didn't always agree on various issues, I never questioned her passion and dedication to women's basketball and the WNBA.
We shared many conversations over the years, discussing sports, business and the WNBA and swapping stories on coaching today's youth. Though Donna often took me to task — questioning our coverage, priorities and, of course, headlines — I respected her tenacity and her drive to build the WNBA, a tough task that grows more challenging by the year. (If you want proof of the difficulty sustaining a pro women's league, look at the chaos around Women's Professional Soccer.)
Donna's heart was in the right place. She focused on the players and the positive influence they have on society, young people and the sports community. She fought constantly for the WNBA to receive more exposure, corporate support and consumer acceptance. Not an easy fight.
I regret that I never took in a WNBA game with Donna to hear her perspective — and not-so-gentle needling — as the players she battled so hard for competed on the court.
She gives up her 80-hour workweeks, but I know she will continue to be a passionate leader and activist for sports.