Jet-lagged ex-Lady Vol Parker picks up award
Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 7:17 pm
By: By RACHEL COHEN, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Candace Parker threw down a dunk on one coast and picked up an honor on the other.
Hours after becoming the second player to dunk in a WNBA game, Parker received the Honda-Broderick Cup on Monday as the nation’s top female college athlete.
Parker went straight to the airport in Los Angeles after scoring 10 points in the Sparks’ 77-63 win Sunday night over the Indiana Fever.
Her red-eye flight didn’t land until 8:30 a.m. in New York, three hours before the ceremony.
Another cross-country flight awaited Monday night, to return her in time for the Sparks’ game tonight against Seattle.
Monday morning’s awards ceremony at Columbia University came on the 36th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX, which bans discrimination in education and sports.
“I still consider this generation to be pioneers of women’s sports, because my mom didn’t have the same opportunities I have, and my daughter sure will have way more opportunities than I had,” Parker said. “That’s what I’m playing for.”
Parker led Tennessee to its second consecutive NCAA title in April. The Sparks made her the No. 1 pick in this year’s WNBA draft.
Already one of the country’s most high-profile female athletes, Parker is realizing opportunities few women could in the past, such as signing endorsement deals with Adidas and Gatorade.
Past Honda-Broderick Cup winners include Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Mia Hamm.
After watching a slideshow of previous honorees — and all those out-of-date hairstyles — Parker thought about how future winners will always be able to see her name.
In her acceptance speech, Parker thanked her family and her fiance, Shelden Williams of the Sacramento Kings, who sat in the audience taking photos with a digital camera.
Parker noted that her coach at Tennessee, Pat Summitt, couldn’t attend because she was running a basketball camp — and maybe one of the girls there will some day win the Honda-Broderick Cup.
Minnesota-Duluth volleyball player Vicky Braegelmann and Willamette cross-country star Sarah Zerzan were honored as athletes of the year in Divisions II and III. Texas Tech thrower Patience Knight received the Honda Inspiration Award, and the Women’s Sports Foundation was recognized for its contributions to women’s athletics.