The team's president and CEO discusses its LGBT partnership and players' children.
Editor’s note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with Storm CEO and president Karen Bryant, whose organization made a $3,500 donation to the Greater Seattle Business Association’s Scholarship Program. The presentation was made June 24 at the team’s Pride-themed game.
Q: In its 13 years, the Storm hasn’t been as visible with its Pride celebration as June 24, when fans were given rainbow-colored ThunderStix and purchased rainbow headbands and the organization made a donation to assist LGBTQ youth. Is there a shift in philosophy?
Karen Bryant: It’s a combination of things, like us having two games (during Pride weekend). I don’t think we’ve ever had two games before. Many of the Pride weekends we’ve been gone. The fact that we had two games sandwiched around Pride weekend, it felt like an obvious opportunity for us to be more involved and more visible in the Pride festivities. The donation piece was a chance for us to promote the game and to also give back to one of our longstanding partnerships. I’ve been to the scholarship dinner many times and think it’s one of the more powerful events in the city.
Q: It seemed as if it enhanced the family environment you also promote. After the game you could even see Storm moms with their kids. What does that add to the team?
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KB: It’s great to have kids around. We were just commenting that after the game, Dyllan (Tina Thompson’s son), Lot and Vince (Ann Wauters’ wife and son) were running around on the court. It’s neat to have them around. In the past we’ve had Le’coe (Willingham’s) son, and Jordan (Sheryl Swoopes’ son). It’s great. I get so much joy watching Dyllan cheer for his mom. He sits sort of across from me and I can see him in his seats reacting whether she gets called for a foul or hits a classic Tina Thompson three-pointer — the emotion on him is really cute. And we try to do everything we can to help make it a comfortable environment for their families.
Q: In the past you spoke of being conscious of the WNBA brand when linking with certain sponsors or theme nights. Is that no longer the case?
KB: We want inclusivity. We want our fan base to reflect the community. The LGBT community has been very supportive of the Storm. They’re not our only segment. They’re one of our segments. It’s important we give back to people who support us, whether it’s youth basketball or families or the gay community or women business owners. It’s the kind of community we want to build.