Watching Michael Phelps win gold inspired Stefanie Dolson’s Olympic dreams.
Since the historic first-ever U.S. Olympic Women’s 3x3 team qualified for the Tokyo games in early June, Dolson has been looking forward to the announcement that she officially made the roster.
When she got the call, thrill was the emotion she felt.
“My family is super proud and excited for me because they know how much the Olympics mean to me,” Dolson said.
Dolson, who will be a first-time Olympian, is currently in New York with her Sky teammates for a two-game series against the Liberty that concludes on Thursday. She’s received support and congratulations from the entire Sky team since the announcement, but that support goes way back.
Dolson’s WNBA teammates have watched her commit herself to making the 3x3 team for over a year and expressed that with pride and excitement for her. Sky coach and general manager James Wade said the team has something big planned for her when she returns with a gold medal.
Her commitment to 3x3 has also translated to her 5x5 game. Dolson said in finishing at the rim and mentally playing 3x3 has helped evolve her game.
Dolson first played with the USA National Team in 2013 while she was playing for Geno Auriemma at UConn. She has been on six five-on-five national team rosters between the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup and exhibition games. Dolson has won three gold medals with USA Basketball junior national teams.
“I’ve been trying to make the 5x5, which we all know is a very hard team to make,” Dolson said. “To be able to make the 3x3 team is even cooler honestly. It’s a new sport in the Olympics.”
Team USA’s 5x5 roster was announced earlier this week and unsurprisingly there were snubs. None more noticeable than WNBA champion Nneka Ogwumike, the only WNBA MVP that has yet to be named to an Olympic roster.
Fellow WNBA MVP and teammate of Ogwumike’s during the Sparks’ 2016 championship season, Candace Parker sounded off on the politics of USA Basketball following the Sky’s 92-72 win over the Liberty Tuesday night.
Parker said she reached out to Ogwumike and offered her support telling her it was unfair and told her she’s one of the greats. Parker is familiar with Olympic snubs as she was notoriously left off the 2016 roster.
“How many times are we all going to say it’s not politics,” Parker said. “I think we all know that.”
In its first Olympic games, women’s 3x3 basketball will feature eight teams competing from July 24-28. The preliminary round is set to be played from July 24-27. The quarterfinals will be on July 27, and the semifinals and finals are set for July 28.
Dolson said she believes she won’t have to stay in Tokyo for the duration of the Olympic schedule and will return to the United States following 3x3 competition.
Joining Dolson on the 3x3 roster are Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), and Katie Lou Samuelson (Seattle Storm). The team is coached by Duke women’s basketball coach and 2008 Olympic gold medalist, Kara Lawson.
The environment in Tokyo will be different from past Olympic experiences as friends, family and fans from abroad will not be in attendance. Dolson said she’s disappointed by that but it doesn’t change the support she knows she’ll have from family back home in New York.
“They’ve already been talking about what time they have to be up for all of our games,” Dolson said.