This week’s Athlete Series contributor is Lindsay Allen, former D1 basketball player for Notre Dame and current WNBA rookie point guard for the New York Liberty. Originally from the DMV, Lindsay was a traditionally “undersized” basketball player who defied all odds and emerged as a superstar in her sport.
Lindsay was interviewed by Love Squad writer and former teammate Marissa Brock.
What age did you first start playing basketball? When you were a kid, would you ever have envisioned yourself pursuing a career as a professional athlete?
I started playing basketball around the age of 6, along with other sports including soccer and baseball. I always knew basketball was my favorite sport because it was the one I spent the most time doing in my free time (outside of scheduled practices and games). Like most kids, I didn’t really spend my time looking into the future, I just knew that I wanted to play basketball as much as possible and for as long as I could. Growing up, the WNBA was always a viable option for me, so I spent time learning about the players and attending Washington Mystics games.
Basketball is and has always been a sport about height. While players like Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics have begun to turn the notion of height as a prerequisite for success on its head, it goes without saying that it is still tough for undersized players to get noticed.
Talk about how you dealt with being an undersized player growing up, and what effect that had on your motivation and drive to be successful in basketball.
I’ve always been in a weird situation throughout my life when it comes to basketball because I’m generally undersized on the court compared to my teammates (I’m 5’8”), but I’m taller than the average woman. Also, unless I’m with my teammates who are obvious basketball players in height, no one usually guesses I play basketball; I mostly get either soccer or track and field.
For all of the shorter players, it’s always been about being the most skilled or creative and having a higher basketball IQ. I’m not saying taller players aren’t skilled or smart, but they have something that you can’t teach: height; so it gives them a little wiggle room. As a point guard, I’ve always prided myself on having a high basketball IQ, so that helps me be creative and find ways to score over/around taller and stronger players.
Your college career at Notre Dame was huge. What was it like playing in front of such a large audience with that type of media exposure?
It was a lot of fun, to say the least. I had the opportunity to play at the highest level in college and sharpen my game while also attending one of the top universities in the country, a once in a lifetime experience.
The support we had from the local community was incredible, almost every game was a sellout; we enjoyed them just as much as they enjoyed us. It also didn’t hurt that we won a lot of games and I played for a Hall of Fame Coach in Muffet McGraw. Going to Notre Dame was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.
Your current opportunity with the New York Liberty is once in a lifetime. How are you approaching this experience, and what type of mindset do you have when you know you have to prove yourself in a relatively short period of time?
My time with the New York Liberty and as a professional has been such a different pace than college. My day is not planned out to the hour like it was in college, there’s a lot more free time. It’s still strange to think about the fact that I play basketball for a living now, that this is my “job” and I go to “work” at the gym everyday. I get paid to play a sport that most people play for fun; don’t get me wrong, I still have fun everyday, but I have a job to do. I’m taking this experience one day at a time, there are so many highs and lows throughout this process (even throughout the day), I try not to get too caught up in them. I know I have a long way to go and many ways to learn and keep getting better, and I can’t do that if I’m too focused on the past or future; I’m trying to stay present.
Any words of wisdom to impart on the next generation of aspiring female professional athletes?
Have fun. This gets said a lot, but it’s so true. Enjoy and love what you do. You don’t have to love every single process about it (Lord knows no does conditioning for fun!), but do it because you love your sport and it will make you better at it.
Don’t play your sport or participate in your event because your family or friends want you to; don’t get caught up in other’s happiness. And this goes into my final point, don’t care too much about what other people think, do what makes you happy. You will do more harm to yourself trying to satisfy other and make them happy, your happiness is just as important as theirs.
Our Love Squad Athlete Series aims to celebrate the elite athlete in all of us by telling the stories of women for whom elite sports and fitness have played a defining role in their lives. Whether they are former college ballers, professional athletes, or career fitness instructors, sports and fitness helped shape who they are today.
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