Scenes from inside the currently under-construction Gateway Center Arena at College Park in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. The Gateway Center Arena at College Park open in November, and the city hopes the new venue will be a draw for the city. It’ll host the Hawks’ G-League, the Atlanta Dream and shows programmed by the Fox Theatre. (Photo/Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta Dream players social distancing, await notice of 2020 season

When Glory Johnson, a forward with the Dream, found out about social distancing, she stopped leaving the house. 

That meant she could no longer work with her trainer if she wanted to avoid getting sick or infecting others.

“You know, it's one thing if I get sick. I feel like my immune system can probably fight it off because it’s super tough,” she said. “But risking my babies and my mom getting sick, that's not really something that I want to do, especially since they were preemies.”

Like the rest of the country, members of the Dream are practicing social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Players that weren’t already stateside, such as center Elizabeth Williams and guard Courtney Williams, who were playing overseas in Turkey, made their way home in the past few days.

Guard Tiffany Hayes has taken walks on the nature path near her home. Center Kalani Brown celebrated her 23rd birthday indoors with her family. Coach Nicki Collen has been homeschooling, staying in touch with players as they return to the U.S. and watching film of draft prospects. 

Johnson, who is in Arlington, Texas, played on a short-term contract in Russia before returning home to focus on spending time with her daughters and homeschooling them before the WNBA season. With the new social restrictions, she can still lift weights and do cardio, but there’s no place for her to shoot. She has been teaching her daughters how to dribble, and her mom is vocal about how loud that is.

There have been no updates on the start of the WNBA season, which is scheduled for May 15. But Johnson, who is used to being needed at a moment’s notice for teams overseas, has been working on staying prepared no matter the timing of the next campaign.

“I was practicing like, you know, at any point in time I would need to perform in front of anybody,” she said. “And I'm working out like at any point, someone might come and ask me to show them a work out. It's like every day you have to kind of be ready to go.”

After the NBA suspended its season, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert released a statement.

“The WNBA is currently not in season, but together with the WNBPA and teams, we have been in close communication and will continue to connect with and offer resources to players in the U.S. and those playing overseas,” she said. “In addition, we continue to scenario plan around our upcoming events and season.” 

The WNBA draft will be held virtually on April 17. Training camp is set to begin April 26 and the season on May 15, but the league announced it is “conducting ongoing scenario planning.” Johnson is hopeful she can play again at some point.

“I hope we're able to start when we're supposed to start and I hope that everyone stays healthy, confident and positive, we'll get through this,” she said. “And hopefully it's sooner than later.”

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