WNBA star, Olympic gold medalist Breanna Stewart aiming beyond arc to impact world

Womens History

Upstate New York native Breanna Stewart won four NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship titles with the University of Connecticut.

In 2016, she won a gold medal in Rio with Team USA and also picked up two ESPYs for Best Female Athlete and Best Female Collegiate Athlete.

That same year, Stewie was unanimously voted WNBA rookie of the year after being the league’s No. 1 draft pick to the Seattle Storm.

Last year, the Storm claimed the WNBA Championship and Stewie was awarded the MVP title.

At the young age of 24, the dynamic forward may soon run out of room in her trophy case.

She openly says she has her sights set on going down as the greatest to ever play the game of basketball, but at the same time, Stewie is also making assists off the court.

Last December, Stewie hosted her first ever youth basketball camp and she brought it home to North Syracuse, N.Y.

It’s been years since Stewie has had the chance to be home during the holidays due to collegiate tournaments as a UConn Huskie and playing overseas in China as a pro.

Despite the time crunch and short visit home, Stewie dedicated an entire day of her vacation to working with aspiring basketball players.

Once lighting up high school hoops for the Cicero-North Syracuse North Stars — Stewie and a team of other players and coaches ordered up drills on the junior high school hardwood she once played on.

Emphasizing the importance of making it affordable — the price was set at $25 per child. Participants came from all over New York state, New Jersey and the Carolinas. Each child also received an official Nike T-shirt with “Breanna Stewart Basketball” donned in Storm colors.

Slots for Stewie’s camp sold out in a day and a few hundred children got the chance to dribble, shoot and pass alongside the hoops star.

“When I dreamed about things, it was kind of like, when I was in high school I dreamed about, you know, college and then when I was in college, I was like oh, I can go play in the WNBA,” Stewie shared.

Stewie is not just “playing in the WNBA,” she is breaking records and picking up even more honors.

During her second year with the Storm — Stewie became the fastest WNBA player to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in just 55 career games.

“I don’t know…Not thinking too far ahead of myself,” Stewie said. “I mean, now I know that anything’s possible, really.”

Stewie has proved she can conquer the court and since she started, she’s been aiming from well beyond the arc to make an even bigger mark on the world.

“I’m playing basketball for a living which is amazing, but like there’s other things in life that are more important,” Stewie shared.

Last year, Stewie stood up and shared her truth with the world in the Players’ Tribune echoing, “Me too,” with countless other survivors of sexual abuse.

“I couldn’t sleep. I was always up just because that would be the time that things would happen,” Stewie shared in an E60 interview. “You know, when I was at a family member’s house and it was night time.”

She was nine years old when her uncle started molesting her.

Years went by and she didn’t feel safe — even the basketball court did not make her feel completely safe, but it did give her a space to be a kid and be free of haunting thoughts.

When Stewie was 11, she broke her silence and told her parents. After filing a report, Stewie’s father told her “the guy had confessed everything to the police.”

“Saying that my article helped save their life or that type of thing, those are powerful statements,” Stewie shared.

Several months after sharing her own truth, Stewie still hears from survivors.

Years removed from what she describes as a childhood with pain, black holes and blank spaces — Stewie admits some memories flash into her mind every day.

“Opening it up to the rest of the world was like an additional weight lifted off my chest,” Stewie said.

While some may never speak their truth, Stewie wants survivors to know how much it can help and heal. Saying, “Me too,” on the world stage is just part of her mission that goes beyond breaking records and winning awards.

“If it’s something that I believe in, I’m going to share my opinion,” Stewie said. “Our worlds are colliding between sports and everything else that’s going on outside of that.”

Stewie’s long list of awards and fame put her in a league of her own but her beginning tethers her to what many can connect to.

“All I have to do is play basketball,” Stewie said. “I can be a relatable, normal person because it may happen to me and it may happen to a random person on the street and that’s life.”

What many of us know about Stewie’s life and legacy so far is really just the beginning as she continues dazzling the world of basketball, building her own brand as an athlete and advocate, and being a voice for those who may never have one.

Stewie says she plans to host more youth basketball camps.

Her first camp held in North Syracuse, N.Y., benefited Vera House Inc., an Upstate New York agency that supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Stewie plans to make the North Syracuse camp an annual event.

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