Three-time Olympic Gold medalist and WNBA champion Lisa Leslie took the time to talk to us at Pretty Tough about her involvement with the Capital One Cup and about the men’s and women’s tournaments. Without further ado, here is the interview!
AH: How did you get involved with the Capital One Cup?
LL: I’m on the advisory board. The Capital One Cup rewards athletic programs at the highest level, which is Division 1, schools for their cumulative performances across multiple men’s and women’s sports. So basically we’re really just trying to get the word out and get the fans to rally around their teams and to watch and see which school does best. And really it’s all about bragging rights and you really want for you school to win the Capital One Cup trophy because if they win they also get $200,000 in scholarship money which will fund post-graduate education opportunities.
AH: How do you like being part of the Advisory Board?
LL: Well, I enjoy it. I have some pretty good partners in Rece Davis and in Brandi Chastain. We have a lot of fun, and we already had an argument about our own schools but none of our schools are in the Top 5! So right now we’re at the Final Four and were going to watch Notre Dame take on Texas A&M for the championship and if Notre Dame wins, that will move them to first place because they’ll get 60 points.
AH: What exactly is your role on the Advisory Board?
LL: Pretty much what I just told you. We’re really trying to get fans to rally, and they can find out more information at facebook.com/CapitalOneCup and on twitter.com/CapitalOneCup. And what we’re gonna do is, one team will be rewarded the Capital One Cup and will be honored at the ESPY Awards in July.
AH: Can you talk about the importance of an award like the Capital One Cup?
LL: It’s a great example of how Capital One is committed to promoting the achievements of student-athletes both on the field and in the classroom, and I’m a huge supporter of that. As a student-athlete it’s very important to further your education, especially with this economy so I think it’s awesome that Capital One Cup will not only provide the trophy but the money. It’ll be essential for helping these student-athletes further their education.
AH: You just completed you MBA this year after retiring from the WNBA. Can you talk about what an award like the Capital One Cup could have done for you?
LL: It is difficult. It’s definitely not cheap to go back to school to get your masters. I think to have this sort of cash can really help these students. That in itself will give them motivation to win (the Capital One Cup) this spring and push their teams to the top and that’s important because a lot of those students can use a little extra help.
AH: Moving on to basket ball, do you think the right UConn team won the championship?
LL: I can’t speak to which team should have won, but I think it was good to see that the UConn men’s team walked away with the trophy because they really worked hard. Butler also gave a valiant effort to get there as a #11 seed, so it was a tough game (for them) and at the end you could see that they were nervous.
In regards to the women’s team, head coach Geno Auriemma was working on the Business Sports Network, so when he was not coaching he was helping us out and it’s really cool to go watch him as well.
AH: Which upsets do you think were more surprising?
LL: I think they were both equally surprising (in the women’s tournament). I don’t think anybody other than Texas A&M fans thought Texas would win and I don’t know if anyone thought Notre Dame would take down UConn other than Notre Dame fans. I think both of them were equally shocking in different ways.
AH: How would you compare the men’s tournament to the women’s?
LL: The men’s final was not as sharp as they would have liked it to be offensively. For the women’s final tonight we’re hoping that they play a cleaner game, but it could be possible that they play a similar game because of the defense. Texas A&M has one of the toughest defenses in the country and Notre Dame’s going to have to find other ball handlers maybe other than Skylar Diggins to bring the ball up. So it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the pressure.
AH: Who do you think will win tonight?
LL: I absolutely have zero predictions for it.
AH: Do you know who you want to win?
LL: USC (laughs).
AH: Do you have any interest in a corporate or executive role with WNBA?
LL: I pretty much play one as the liaison. I help with them with a lot corporate sponsors and getting more sponsors to support the WNBA.
AH: That’s all I have for you today.
LL: Ok. You can tell your fans to get more information on Facebook and Twitter and also tell them to follow me on Twitter (@LisaLeslie).
And don’t forget the NCAA Women’s National Championship match starts at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN tonight!