WASHINGTON -- Mystics guard Natasha Cloud became a WNBA champion last fall, and as she continues to bask in the glory of bringing DC its first basketball title since the 1978 Wizards, she doesn't want that to define her career.
At an International Women's Day Panel hosted by the Wizards Sunday, Cloud joined NBC Sports Washington's Julie Donaldson, NBA VP of Diversity and Inclusion Liliahn Majeed and Carrie Blakenship, University of Maryland’s Senior Associate Athletic Director to talk about the challenges facing women in the sports industry, signs of progress and areas where society can continue to grow.
"If all I do is bring a championship to DC at the end of my career, then I've failed," Cloud said. "For me, my success is what am I doing in my community, what am I doing for the people and kids in my community. At the end of the day, basketball is just a game.
"As professional athletes we think, 'I'm just here to play a game, this isn't my responsibility, this isn't what I signed up for.' It is," she said.
For Cloud some things are bigger than the nine points, 5.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds or the key role she played during the Mystics title run. On days like Sunday, she's able to take advantage of her platform not only to help others, but to listen to her fellow women in sports to pick up a few tips herself.
"I love it because I'm surrounded by a lot of powerful women," she said. "In this case, they're a lot more experienced than me and have gone through different things, so for me to hear [from them] as well and give me pointers for how to kind of drive through what I'm doing here in DC."
Sunday wrapped up a busy weekend for Cloud. On Sunday it was the panel, but on Saturday she hosted a girls basketball clinic.
"I get to share my love and passion for the game with the young kids, and that's the most important part," she said. "Having a camp for 60-to-70 girls that look up to you, that's amazing in itself and why I do what I do and I love giving back in that sense.
"I think sports is super inclusive, whether your gender, your age, your sexual preference, your religion, any of that it doesn't matter. Sports have a way of including everyone.
While Cloud may she wants to achieve more than just championships, she's still going to celebrate them when they happen.
The Mystics announced shortly before the panel began that they would hold their WNBA title parade on May 12. Cloud's plans for that day?
"I'm just gonna drink with the fans and that's my plan," she said. "I want to drink out of the trophy for sure."
The parade was delayed due to Mystics players' schedules following the WNBA season, so Washington will go through their parade just four days before their championship defense begins. Quite the way to kick off the new year.
"It's going to fuel the fire," she said. "We're all excited to be back. We miss each other, and I think that's the special part about this team in DC is that we're really a family."
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