My daughter and I entered the New York Liberty locker room as she clung close to my leg. My very exuberant and loud daughter was suddenly shy and quiet. Reporters gathered around the players as they sat in front of their lockers with ice packs on their knees.
“You do it,” begged my daughter.
“I can’t sweetie,” I reasoned. “This is your thing. You can do this. You’re brave and strong. You break boards with your fists. And besides, it would look pretty silly if I ask questions about being a little girl with big dreams.”
Smiling, my daughter nodded.
Minutes earlier, the crowd had been standing on their feet as the New York Liberty was locked in a battle with the Washington Mystics in an overtime game. The two teams took it to one another and traded baskets. The game ended with a Liberty win and Madison Square Garden erupted in cheers. I exhaled as I celebrated with those in attendance – not just for the win, but because I was afraid the Liberty locker room would not live up to my daughter’s expectations if they lost.
After the game, we headed to the locker room so my daughter could interview Tina Charles, who had a terrific double-digit night.
As we waited for the reporters to clear out, my daughter continued to cling tightly to my leg. An equipment manager noticed my daughter’s state and handed her a wrist band, which was quickly placed on her arm. I did my best to pump her up and get her ready.
Across the room, we saw Cappie Poindexter, one of my daughter’s favorite athletes, sitting in front of her locker. I asked my daughter if she wanted to meet Cappie and her head responded with a nervous “no.” “Come on,” I encouraged her as we walked over to Ms. Poindexter. Cappie was so kind and generous with my daughter and it helped my daughter loosen up a bit.
After we talked to Cappie, we began to walk over to Tina Charles for the interview. Suddenly my daughter stopped. “The pot holder!” she exclaimed. (My daughter had made a pot holder earlier in the day as a gift for the player she was going to interview.) I quickly dug it out of her purse and she handed it to Ms. Charles, thus marking the first time in sports history that an interviewer gifted a pot-holder to an athlete.
My daughter nervously flew through the questions and was too focused on her list to ask any follow-up questions, but she did a great job. I was so proud that she didn’t let her nerves keep her from doing something she’d been looking forward to for days.
During the interview, Ms. Charles said to my daughter, “You want to have positive people around you. To encourage you and motivate you to stay in what you love to do or whatever dream you may have. My parents dedicated their life to help me be all I can be in basketball.”
My dream is to be that positive person around my daughter. To encourage her and motivate her. To help her do what she loves and achieve her dreams. As her dad, that’s my role and one that I cherish.
After the interview, my daughter relaxed a bit and posed for a picture with another one of her favorite players, Anna Cruz. As we exited in the locker room, someone asked my daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her response, a pot-holder maker. Looks like I need to make a run to the store and buy some more looms.
You can find the interview here – 8-Year-Old Girl Interviews WNBA Star Tina Charles