Like in 2008 when the Sonics packed up and relocated to Oklahoma City, I’m left wondering about the children after Swin Cash was traded to the Chicago Sky.
Even though Cash was only in Seattle for four seasons, her imprint was bigger than the storied 2010 championship run. She extended her Cash for Kids foundation’s reach and was most visible in the community last summer. She hosted “Swin’s Scavenger Stroll” through downtown Seattle and a back-to-school shopping spree with the middle school girls from the InfluenceHer program of the Boys & Girls Club.
Not every WNBA player has a foundation because of the work and commitment it takes with an already packed year-round, international playing schedule. But Cash made it a point and is even hosting her first basketball/fitness camp in China next month.
I know the Boys & Girls Club in Rainier Valley will continue to do its positive work and the Storm has its own community outreach program. Still, it was good to have an All-Star player help in mentoring on her own, just as former Sonics players like Kevin Durant, Ray Allen, and Luke Ridnour were good for the community.
“I have relationships with 45 special young ladies. Though I’ll miss seeing their faces, I hope they will stay in touch with me. (This is a very tech savvy generation!),” Cash wrote via email late Monday. “I’m proud of the programming Cash for Kids accomplished in Seattle and the children we impacted. I hope my former teammates and the InfluenceHer mentors will take what I started and continue the tradition!”
The other way she impacted the city was by officially dubbing Seattle fans “Storm Crazies.” It was a Twitter movement that morphed into T-Shirts and fundraising for her charity. Storm president and CEO Karen Bryant was uncertain whether the organization would continue to sell the shirts, which were designed by Cash and C Ashley Robinson with kids in mind.
“The beauty of that is it was really born out of relationship between the players and the fans. I don’t want to speak to it from an organizational perspective because I love the fact that it was really organic,” Bryant said. “With the acquisition of some new players and maybe a new look for our team, who knows what kind of fan-player things may generate. And if it (Storm Crazies) manifests into something else, that’s great too. Obviously that’ll be something that’s part of Swin’s contributions to Seattle.”
In her email, Cash, of course, said the fans are going to be one of many things she misses about Seattle. Traded to Chicago with Le’coe Willingham and the Storm’s 23rd overall pick in April’s draft, the duo has the chance to become the first WNBA players to win titles with three different teams. Willingham, 30, won with Phoenix and Seattle while Cash, 32, won with Detroit and Seattle.
The Sky, which drafted Kent native Courtney Vandersloot with the third overall pick last year, has never advanced to the postseason since joining the league in 2006.
Coach/GM Pokey Chatman believes the Sky is closer with the addition of Cash and Willingham. The former said she heard rumors this offseason about Chicago wanting her, getting official word on New Year’s Day while playing for the New Century Basketball Team in Dongguang.
“I’m honored I was part of the Storm Crazies tradition,” Cash wrote. “I’m excited that I was able to personally help create the Storm Crazies character that emblazons so many t-shirts in the Key and around Seattle. I feel like, by creating the Storm Crazies character, even though I have to leave the fans, city and team that I love so much — I am forever leaving a part of me with the Storm fans.”
*PHOTO CREDIT: Young fan sports Storm Crazies t-shirt at Connecticut game by Neil Enns/Storm Photos