KEY MOMENT — Taking time out from a Seattle Storm game at Key Arena last week were Aaliyah Gonzales, Katarina Edwards, Bradley Williams, Savanna Edwards, Dyson Edwards, Taylor Cayou, Aaliyah Clark, Shaniquah Casey, and Lorena Edwards. A good time was had by all. — Photo by Lauren Reynolds
The Seattle Storm fell four points short in its WNBA matinee matchup with the Connecticut Sun at Seattle’s Key Arena last week. But the pro team’s young La Conner fans felt like winners afterward nonetheless. Two dozen local kids were treated to courtside seats at the marquee women’s hoop clash—the Sun, after all, sits atop the league’s Eastern Conference standings—as part of a special Swinomish Youth Center day trip. The La Conner area group, composed mostly of elementary and middle school students, enjoyed an exceptional pro game—-even better than the 83-79 final score indicates. Despite the loss, the Storm’s perennial All-Star Sue Bird dished off seven assists and emerging Seattle superstar Breanna Stewart scored a team-best 22 points. The La Conner students also witnessed a Storm franchise record 33-point second period outburst. In addition, several saw their images projected on the arena’s JumboTron. More exciting still was the rare chance to actually set foot on the hardwood itself. “I just want to touch the court,” Bradley Williams, a La Conner sixth grader, told Swinomish staff at one point. He got his wish, taking advantage of a momentary break in the action. Bradley was met later by some of his friends for a quick sideline photo op. Swinomish each summer purchases group tickets for youth to attend a Storm game. Last week’s pairing with the Sun, coming just 10 days before the league’s annual All-Star game (scheduled, coincidentally, in Seattle), drew one of the Storm’s largest crowds of the year. In fact, traveling separately to the event, was Swinomish resident and recent La Conner Middle School graduate Daniel “Dano” Rapada, who was able to chat with Storm players Jewell Loyd and Alyshia Clark. The Key Arena trips are just one way Swinomish Youth Center opens doors for kids. The Center’s staff regularly transports participating youth to a variety of indoor and outdoor recreation venues, including parks, movies, skating, bowling, and swimming. The July 12 Storm game was a break---one fittingly enough marked by repeated fast breaks on the court---from the kids’ normal summer routine. One they’ll not soon forget.