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Week 17: Hitting the Court with the L.A. Sparks

Farai Chideya and L.A. Sparks conditioning coach Bob Dominguez sprint down the hardwood.
Devin Robins, NPR
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Farai Chideya and L.A. Sparks conditioning coach Bob Dominguez sprint down the hardwood.
Next comes the stretching, followed by more sprints.
Devin Robins, NPR /
/
Next comes the stretching, followed by more sprints.
Sparks assistant coach Margaret Moore does dribbling drills with Chideya and <em>News & Notes</em> executive producer Nicole Childers, left.
Devin Robins, NPR /
/
Sparks assistant coach Margaret Moore does dribbling drills with Chideya and News & Notes executive producer Nicole Childers, left.

There's nothing like standing out on the empty floor of a major sports arena knowing you have no clue what you're doing.

I was one of those kids who was humiliated on the basketball court. I had no idea how to play, but I was forced in gym class to compete with girls on the basketball team. Two decades later, I'm still just getting over it -- just in time to take to the hardwood with the L.A. Sparks WNBA team.

I warmed up with help from Bob Dominguez, the strength and conditioning coach for the Sparks, who made me sprint, stretch and sprint some more. It was a tough drill that got my heart racing.

Sparks assistant coach Margaret Moore worked through some dribbling drills with me and News & Notes executive producer Nicole Childers. Dribbling is to basketball what kicking is to soccer -- Moore taught me a controlled dribble and the speed dribble.

My head-to-head match with Lisa Willis, a rookie guard for the Sparks, proved I didn't have mad skills. But at the end of the shootout, everyone was a winner -- except my knees, which were killing me.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Farai Chideya
Farai Chideya is a multimedia journalist who has worked in print, television, online, and radio. Prior to joining NPR's News & Notes, Chideya hosted Your Call, a daily news and cultural call-in show on San Francisco's KALW 91.7 FM. Chideya has also been a correspondent for ABC News, anchored the prime time program Pure Oxygen on the Oxygen women's channel, and contributed commentaries to CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and BET. She got her start as a researcher and reporter at Newsweek magazine. In 1997 Newsweek named her to its "Century Club" of 100 people to watch.