PLAYERS' VOICE

Temi Fagbenle: My WNBA Dream

It is an honour to have been drafted into the WNBA. Women’s basketball is growing increasingly competitive at every level, so it is a great reaffirmation that I can battle with the best.

I have goals galore, on and off the court, and one of them was definitely to make it to the WNBA. It was a goal very shortly after I started basketball. Even in the early days when I was stick thin and moved around the court like a baby giraffe, I knew that playing in the WNBA was something I wanted to do, and most importantly, something I believed I could do.

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I come from a very competitive family, so a love of competition and a will to win was instilled in me from a very young age. My drive and killer mentality has helped me in everything I do. I just want to be the best me in all regards.

I want to kill it in the WNBA. It’s as simple as that!

My goal is to be stronger, faster and more explosive than I’ve ever been. Everything will fall into place afterwards. I know I have the ability and talent to excel. Along with working on my game fundamentals and technique, I just need my body to be in the right condition to battle on the court everyday.

So many people have helped shape me into the woman and basketball player I am today. I want to thank the following people.

Early days when I first started at 14 years old:
Coaches Dan Bowmaker and Phil Hayfield at Haringey Angels and Ted Polson and family at Barnet Bulldogs.

AAU and high school in the US:
Coaches Mike Flynn, Kevin Lynch, Fran Burbridge and Tony Pappas at Philadelphia Belles. Coaches Sue Altman, Quint Clarke and Joe Mantegna at Blair Academy. Coaches Roman Hernandez, Shamai Santiago, Sonni Holland, Tom Flaherty and Rich Leary at New Jersey Demons and Hoops Basketball Clinics. Rich Leary presented the game to me in fundamental, balanced and creative ways that I think of and use to this day. His guidance and friendship have been indispensable.

University:
Coaches Kathy Delaney-Smith, Kelly Finley, Lindsay Hallion-Miller, Kelly Cole, Juanise Cornell, Brett Benzio and Amanda Leahy at Harvard. Amongst many things, Kathy taught me how to believe in my own strength. She taught me the power of affirming myself and to act as if.

Coaches Cynthia Cooper, Beth Burns, Jualeah Woods, Taja Edwards at USC.
I admire the strength and discipline they exude. It’s a breath of fresh air to see unapologetic confidence in women.

National teams:
Coaches Damian Jennings, Peter Buckle and Tom Maher, Vanessa Ellis, Ken Shields and Michael Ball. Their trust and belief in me was highly valued.

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Lastly and most importantly, my family. Without them I am nothing. Their support and guidance over the years have been essential to my sanity, happiness, and sense of identity.  They energize me and keep me grounded at the same time.

I say thank you to my brothers, Kunle and Dapo, for leading by example and excelling on and off the court.

To my brothers OT, Luti and Tito for teaching me the fundamentals of basketball, consistently supporting me and beasting up on me during one-on-one (well, attempting to).

To my sister, Banke (and family), and brother, Seyi for sending me messages and calls of encouragement and advice.

To my brother, Pekun, for showing me the strength in individualism, yet the bigger strength in trusting others.

To my sister, Torera, for being an all-round boss at life and the ultimate fighter who has taught me how to keep on keeping on.

To my brothers, Tife and Tani, for pushing me to be a better sibling and to set a great example.

To my mum, Buki, for teaching me compassion, how to find strength in myself, how to be confident and that love is an action.

And to my dad, Tunde, for instilling in me the killer mentality. For showing me quiet strength and humility. And for teaching me how to help others.

Thank you all.

– Temi.

Comments (2)
  1. Michael Ball says:

    A truly outstanding giving beautiful young lady. It is a privilege to know you….I have never come across a player, male or female, whom from the moment of meeting it was obvious was going to succeed on and off the court. It is rare for anyone to exude such clarity of purpose and is willing to pay the price and demonstrate their desire to succeed…every day…a no excuse mentality. It is even rarer to find this in a person who shows such humility and humanity and genuinely cares about all her “family!” “Go kill it Temi.”

  2. Melinda L. says:

    Keep doing you, Temi.

    Your talent is self evident but even without your abundance of talent, you would still be one of
    my favorite young ladies. Because it’s your genuinely kind heart that wins me over every time.

    Forgive my ignorance but because you were drafted, does that mean you will definitely play in the WNBA?
    Or is is an open ended offer that you could use in say, a year or two from now?

    If you get a choice, please pick a team in the NY, NJ area so we can cheer you on both on and off the court.

    Yours on the Journey,
    Mrs. Lucas

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