After a collective decision to strike instead of playing Wednesday night’s slate of games, the WNBA came together overnight at the IMG Academy campus in Bradenton, Fla., for a candlelight vigil, which included a moment of silence and speeches from Commissioner Cathy Engelbert as well as Players’ Association executive committee members like Nneka Ogwumike and Layshia Clarendon.
ESPN’s WNBA insider, Holly Rowe, captured footage of the vigil.
After games were boycotted Wednesday night, the entire @wnba bubble organized and participated in a candlelight vigil. People were encouraged to speak their heart. They are in this together. pic.twitter.com/4MZj64dBlf
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) August 27, 2020
“I just want to say how proud I am of all of you,” Engelbert says. “What you’ve displayed over the course of a very difficult season, what you’ve displayed tonight, I just want to say on behalf of the league that we’re here to listen to your fears, listen to your frustrations, listen to your hopes, listen to your goals and your dreams, and be supportive of that, because this is a very difficult time for so many of you, I know.”
In a show of unity, the vigil allowed for players to come together in a way they aren’t often able to, even despite being in the “Wubble” together. That sentiment was expressed by Clarendon, who made a point to say, “we are not alone … and there is no wrong answer.”
Clarendon also read a passage from the Maya Angelou poem “Still I Rise,” which she said could serve as a reminder of how much power the players all have. Las Vegas Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer came forward as well to acknowledge the power athletes hold at this point in our country, adding “that is a good thing.”
After a night that featured much back-and-forth about whether to play or not, the WNBA ultimately came forward as a unified front to protest the evening of games and followed it up as a community with this vigil, coming together in mourning while also reinforcing their purpose for keeping the platform of the WNBA season.