WNBA Talk: Reporter Jayda Evans talks with Connecticut center Tina Charles
Connecticut star Tina Charles makes an impression off the court, as well.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Editor's note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with Connecticut center Tina Charles, who was awarded the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award last week for work in 2011. Charles donated $32,000 to build a school in Mali through a partnership with OmniPeace and buildOn.
Q: A donation of $10,000 will be made to Sickle Cell Disease Association of America in your honor by the WNBA, and your own contributions will build a 2,861-square foot school for 150 elementary children in Mali. What prompted your community service?
Tina Charles: I grew up knowing that it's better to give than receive. That's the way my family raised me and it trickled down. Good friends know that if they ever need anything, I'm here.
Q: Mali seems kind of random; have you ever been there?
TC: It could have been another place, but I choose Mali randomly. I haven't been there. I would love to go there when my schedule allows. My parents always told me education first and then everything else. So I started playing basketball as an opportunity to go to college and find an inspiration in something else other than basketball.
Q: What's your favorite class?
TC: Criminology. I love to watch "CSI," "Law & Order," or "I Survived," those type of shows.
Q: So, what did it mean to be given the Dawn Staley award?
TC: It's one of the most meaningful awards I've received in my basketball career. The fact that I'm able to give back and inspire others to do the same, especially if they're able to do the same financially, it's a really good thing.
Q: You're making a mark on the court, too, reaching 50 double-doubles the fastest in WNBA history (75 games) and being the first to record three 20-20 games. Did you always know you'd be a center?
TC: I love softball. I was really crushed when they took it out of the Olympics. I used to play outfield and catcher a little bit when I was shorter. I played guard in basketball. Then I had a growth spurt through high school (and) it became clear what I was going to be and what I should put my focus on.
Q: Is there a skill guards have that you wish you possessed?
TC: Ball-handling skills. That's why I encourage people to tell kids to play every position. The great players like Candace Parker and Elena Delle Donne can play every position. It's really wise, no matter your height or size.
Q: You're participating in your first Olympics this summer. What's your favorite part as a spectator?
TC: The opening ceremonies. It's a special time for the world to sit back and watch their country walk and ... holding the flag. I'm really looking forward to that.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com