Thursday, June 10, 2010
Helping fans connect with their favorite players.
By Stephen Litel
June 10, 2010
Caitlin Krawchuk dubs herself as “Katie Smith’s #1 fan” and it’s hard to argue with her. She has gone to WNBA games since she was ten years old, which is where she first learned to appreciate Smith’s game. Therefore, she was a big fan of the Detroit Shock, but, like many, was devastated to hear the franchise was relocating. She states that she had “a feeling” that Smith would join the Washington Mystics and was correct.
When the opportunity came up, Caitlin was more than anxious to interview her favorite player and, personally, I think she did a great job.
Caitlin Krawchuk: Had you ever expected to become a WNBA player? If not, what did you want to be?
Katie Smith: I never expected to because growing up there was no WNBA. It didn’t start until, I guess the idea and everything was floating around, my junior year of college and came into fruition basically after my senior year. So I never thought I’d be doing this as an occupation. If I was not a basketball player, I’d be a dentist at this time. I probably would have gone to dental school.
Q: What were your initial reactions when you found out the Detroit Shock were relocating?
A: It hurt. It was really a sad time. It was a sad time for us, obviously as teammates and staff and the camaraderie we had. It was a really a close group and the organization and the fans. It was really kind of a tough thing. Shock is the big thing. It didn’t set in right away because you’re still kind of there. I was there doing rehab and still around. It felt like it was just the off-season, but then you finally realize this group is never going to be together. It was definitely a sad time and we miss it. I miss my people there. I miss my teammates and everybody. Everything changes but you definitely miss it.
Q: Congratulations on playing for the Mystics now. Why did you decide to play for them instead of going to Tulsa?
A: Tulsa, I’m excited about them having a franchise. But for me as a player, it probably wasn’t a place where I would have wanted to finish my career. A majority of our team is not even there anymore, staff-wise, everything kind of changed. Going to Tulsa wasn’t like you just move the Detroit Shock, a lot of things did change. For me, I wanted to go some place where I knew the coaching staff well, I knew the players, and it’s close to home. D.C. has a lot of stuff that I really like. The teammates and coaches are all about giving me a chance to win and I’m really excited about that and having a great time.
Q: I know Coach Plank is excited to now have you on her team, because you two go way back! What has it been like getting to see her now everyday and train with her?
A: Obviously, we’ve had a friendship for a long time. She recruited me back when I was in high school. It started more as coach/player and ended up being more of a friendship especially with Ohio State. She’s a huge Buckeye and so am I and her family. It’s a lot of fun. The communication is easy. She wants to win and she works as hard as anybody. So, so far so good and we hope to do our part and make her life easy.
Q: What is it like to be able to play with the best players in the world?
A: It’s awesome. You work so hard to be at this level and play the game and to play it well. We have a chance to play with and against great talent all around the world and in our own country. It’s phenomenal and you get to test your skills. You get to see where you rank and try to find ways to win ball games, and see where you stand. As competitors that’s all you ever want is to play against the best and see what you can do.
Q: Is there anyone in particular that you look forward to guarding and are always anxious and excited to play against?
A: I’ve played against a lot of people. I enjoy playing against Diana Taurasi. I love playing against Seattle because they are a good team. Indiana is kind of a rivalry there. It just depends. Also sometimes when you play against rookies because you’re kind of on the older end of it as a veteran and then you have some rookies coming in. It’s fun to see what you learn about them and what they can learn about you. But I guess Diana would be one of my favorite ones because we go hard at each other but at the end of the day you smile, give each other a hug, and say ‘good job.’
Q: What has been your favorite and least favorite moment while in the WNBA?
A: My favorite moment would definitely be winning championships in Detroit and spending my time there. My least favorite moment would probably be when the team was relocated but also when I was traded from Minnesota. Little did I know at that time that it would be the best thing for my career and that I would have so much fun and love it. But at the time it was hard. It was hard to leave the people I was there with for six and a half seasons. I guess that would probably be the two things that were bummers in my career.
Q: What advice can you give to someone who wants to have a career in the WNBA whether it is playing, or being involved with the sports and marketing aspect?
A: Try to get your foot in the door somewhere whether it’s internships or meeting people or volunteering. Any way you can to put your name out there and your face out there. On top of that, keep working hard. As a basketball player, it’s just establishing yourself and proving yourself as a player. It’s all about hard work. You have to have fun with it, but you have to put in the work to make sure you’re at that level.
Q: Anything else to say to your fans?
A: I love them. Fans are everywhere. I have fans in Minnesota who I love still that I’ve spent a lot of seasons with, the ones in Detroit. Now with Washington, I’m getting some fans here. It’s like I’ve built a big pool of fans for myself. The loyalty that they have and the support they show us every time with every team is just a blast. I hope they’ve enjoyed what we do and what I do, because we sure love it when they come out and watch us play.