On a hot summer day, in the Atlanta Dream practice facility, head coach Tanisha Wright is running drills and keeping her players motivated on the heels of a mid-season hot streak.
"How we approach our team in general is high accountability, it's one of our pillars. Not just as an athlete, but as an individual," said Wright.
The former player-turned-coach is in her second season as the Dream's head coach. Having been in their shoes for 14 years means she's someone the players can look to for leadership.
"I'm able to relate to them because I've been in their position before," said Wright.
This season, The Dream are on track to make the playoffs for the first time in five years, and the team just sent three players to the WNBA All-Star game. A big part of that success is Coach Wright.
She's a strong advocate for her players on the court, and one of nine female head-coaches in the league.
"It's a women's league so anytime you can have representation in leadership form, I think it's important so our players, and players across the league, can look around and see representation and opportunity," said Wright.
And she isn't the only woman in a key leadership role for the Dream.
In 2021, former Dream point-guard Renee Montgomery made history when she became the first former player to become an owner and executive of a WNBA franchise.
Along with co-owner Suzanne Abair, Wright says women have played a pivotal role in the team's recent success.
"Having Suzanne and Renee is really important," said Wright.
For years, players in the WNBA have been at the forefront of social justice battles. And in 2020, the Dream spoke out against then co-owner, former U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler after comments she made about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Players across the league called for her removal as a team co-owner. Loeffler sold the dream later that season, making way for Montgomery's stake in her old team.
And it wasn't just the team Loeffler lost. The Dream supported Loeffler's opponent in the 2020 election, Reverend Raphael Warnock — who ended up winning the Senate seat against the incumbent, flipping Georgia blue.
Wright says female leadership has also contributed to the team's healthy culture, allowing a safe space for players to learn and grow. That means going beyond the "W" in WNBA.
"We want it to be a culture where people feel comfortable to be themselves every single day," said Wright.
And whether it's a message to her current players or future generations, Wright says one thing will always be true: "You're gonna get out of it what you put into it — the more you put into it, the more the game will give you."
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