Smiles were abundant for the Sky on Day 1 of training camp.
The veterans, such as Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley, were happy to be back, and the newcomers, like Emma Meesseman, were thrilled to be around the championship energy.
“It was a hard decision, but I know [signing with the Sky] was the right decision,” Meesseman said. “I’m somebody that doesn’t like change. I was getting to a point in my career where I needed to teach myself to enjoy change. Learning more about the Sky and how it’s a family organization, I knew they were a team that would fit me.”
Meesseman was one of 14 players in camp. She arrived in Chicago on April 10 and has spent time enjoying the city with assistant coach Ann Wauters and her family.
Absent was Candace Parker, who’s expected to arrive April 25, coach/general manager James Wade said.
Wade said the energy in practice was great, with the more experienced players already helping the young players get acclimated to the environment.
For the first time since her rookie season, Vandersloot is in camp on Day 1 after returning in March from Russia, where she plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg. Quigley and Meesseman, both teammates of Vandersloot’s in Russia, also left early amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“When you have your leaders here, you expect them to help the younger ones get from Point A to point B,” Wade said. “They did a good job of that today.”
Wade said the chemistry among Vandersloot, Quigley and Meesseman was great to see.
The salary cap allows two more players to be signed, and there are 14 players on training-camp contracts. The Sky need another versatile wing who can provide rest for Quigley and reigning WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper.
The Sky also need a rim protector. With Li Yueru’s season in question, Imani McGee-Stafford could crack the 11-player roster.
The players’ joy in returning to the court after completing a championship season was evident. Equally as noticeable was their hunger for another.
The bull’s-eye is on their backs, and they’re ready to take on that pressure.
“It’s exciting,” Quigley said. “I feel hungry, though, because of our season last year. We were up and down, 16-16. It didn’t feel like a championship season. I’m hungry to have a good season all the way through and obviously try to repeat.”