Pokey Chatman: WNBA Coach and Diabetes Advocate
It was so exciting to watch so many great athletes representing the U.S. over the past few weeks in an international arena! Our sights now turn back to the U.S. fields and courts including those of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) as their season resumes this week. To continue supporting our athletes, I thought it would be a great time to share the story of Chicago Sky’s Head Coach, Pokey Chatman. As a collegiate player and professional coach, her lessons of drive, commitment and passion are an inspiration.
Q: How did you get started playing basketball?
A: I got started with the game of basketball at the tender age of six. Of course, as a kid we played every sport available to us. However, I kept coming back around to basketball, and started playing organized ball with the boys. I think this instilled a toughness in me at an early age. It was the beginning of a love affair with basketball that carried me through to play in high school and college, then into coaching college basketball and now into the professional ranks.
From my playing days in high school and college, I remember the victories and the cutting down of nets, but even more meaningful was the process of developing as a player, a coach and a team. There are many moments in sports you’d like to bottle up and shelve for a rainy day – sometimes it’s a game winner, sometimes it’s that moment when a player takes her game to the next level, but often times it’s the life lessons we learn and experience along the way.
Q: You’ve now been coaching for around 20 years. What are the most important lessons you have learned in your profession?
A: Many people think working hard is enough! That is a “given.” Even more important is working intelligently. This means making sure you have the right people in your foxhole, which includes players, coaching staff, extended staff, etc. Then, the challenge becomes leading the team you have chosen, which requires many different skills. You have to present the team with a vision that helps them understand what you want to accomplish. Finally, you have to help them trust your vision and you do that by staying true to it. Make no mistake; success is all about people, trust and healthy relationships on every level.
Because of the lessons I’ve learned, I encourage others to surround themselves with quality people that will help them grow and challenge them.
Q: The WNBA is a part of the Dribble to Stop Diabetes campaign. Are there ways that diabetes has impacted you personally?
A: Yes, I have a family history of diabetes. My great-uncle was a diabetic and in his last years, my mom was his caregiver. I also had a great-aunt who had diabetes, as well as several cousins that have diabetes.
While my family history is the main driver for my involvement with diabetes-related organizations and programs like Dribble to Stop Diabetes (DTSD), it’s not the only reason. I think this is a disease with significant room for education and awareness, particularly about type 2 diabetes and how people can better manage their overall health. I encourage team members to get involved in programs like DTSD because I’m sure many have a personal connection with the cause and this is a great way for them to help make an impact.
Q: Next to basketball, what’s your favorite sport and why?
A: Well, my second favorite sport to watch is football. I LOVE IT! If motorcycle riding is considered a sport, then it might replace football. I love to get out on a country road on my Harley!
Thanks to Pokey for taking time to share her experiences and encouraging others to help raise awareness about diabetes. Best of luck to Pokey and the Chicago Sky as they finish out their season.
All the best,
Disclosures: Pokey Chatman received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.
The Dribble to Stop Diabetes campaign is a Sanofi US Diabetes partnership with the NBA, NBA D-League, WNBA and the American Diabetes Association.