Pitchfork Press

Cronkite Summer Journalism Institute 2012

Mercury make impact as a team, individually

While the Phoenix Mercury is best known for their skills on the court, their charity work deserves even more glory. The team gives back to the community anyway they can, from on the court to in the classrooms. They even donate their time to the Phoenix community in order to better not only themselves but the Phoenix community as a whole.

The individual charities of many Mercury players have blossomed over the years. Forward Charde Houston created one of these successful charities. Houston’s Project Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Project YOU) educates, motivates, and empowers Phoenix youth to better themselves in school and in life.

Charde Houston works to improve not only her jump shot but the lives of others through her organization Project YOU.

Furthermore, Forward/Center Nakia Sanford also supports Phoenix youth through her charity, The Betty Ann Foundation. The foundation was created in the memory of Sanford’s late grandmother in order to provide opportunities for unprivileged youth kids and educate them on creating a bright future for themselves.

Phoenix Mercury Guard, Amber Riley is one the players who does not head her own organization. Instead Riley goes to schools to read to kids and produces motivational speeches for teens. Riley said she loves reading to kids especially since she had a daughter last year, who she reads to when as much as possible. Riley also likes to motivate the teens in her audience and incorporates a bit of herself in her speeches to keep her audiences attentive. “I like to tell them [kids] that you have a chance to live your dream and have a great life besides what it set out on the table,” said Riley. “Being in the WNBA may be a dream for a little girl and with humble hearts like the Mercury’s and hard work, there is a chance it may be achieved.”

Even though many Mercury players have their own individual charities, many take part in team collaboration. The team hosts multiple events including Dad and Daughter days and Mercury Cares to provide a sense of family and assistance to their community. When it comes to the team as a whole, servicing the community does not come lightly.

“When it comes to all of charity work, we have Lesley for that,” Riley said.  Lesley Factor, Head of Mercury’s Public Relations, is the driving force behind the team’s active effort in community leadership and charity work. Factor is the go-to-woman for organizing the team’s charity events.

On the court, the Mercury’s strength as a team is visible to the naked eye. Mercury’s fierceness and drive is shown from the beginning of the game to the sound of the final buzzer. Yet it’s the their excellent sportsmanship within the team and on the court that is truly remarkable. Their strength as a team is not only obvious through their skills with the ball but from their charity involvement.

From individual works such as Project Y.O.U. to teamwork initiatives like Mercury Cares Week, the team’s community efforts are innumerable. The team never stops working hard for the game even the buzzer sounds and never stop giving back to the community that always gives back to them.

~Ira Confidence

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