Fever win has impact on local girls' teams
The Indiana Fever's WNBA championship could impact Indiana for years to come, by inspiring young players into the game.
They are wives, sisters, daughters and now, World Champions. Millions watched as the Fever reached the pinnacle of women's basketball.
The Fever have made the playoffs for eight straight seasons, but it's this championship win that has coaches hopeful girls will really take notice to give local programs a bit of a bounce.
"They see the girls on the court last night celebrating and how much that means not just to themselves, but each other," said Rob Emmerson, the President of the Fishers-Hamilton Southeastern Girls Basketball Program.
Emmerson says the Fever gave his girls - about 600 of them who play on rec and travel teams - vision.
Two of the players are his own daughters, Lauren and Audra, who started out in the first grade recreation program.
But keeping the girls is a challenge. Their programs are demanding and don't often enjoy the same support as boys. The Fishers Fieldhouse is one of the few places girls can play year-round.
Mark Schlafer already has 25 girls teams set for this winter.
"There's fewer recreational opportunities for girls and I think that's the biggest challenge," explained Schlafer.
Still, in just the past week, local girls have gotten two big wins.
A federal appeals court set a Title IX precedent, requiring 10 schools in Indiana to give girls some prime-time play on Friday and Saturday nights to build momentum.
Days later, the electrifying Fever win.
"The Fever were celebrating a championship on the same floor that they got to play on earlier in the season and you know it's pretty exciting for them, and it's an experience not a lot of girls get to have," said Emmerson.
The immediate impact of the Fever win might be seen in the numbers of girls who tryout for high school teams yet this week.
The city will honor the WNBA champions Tuesday with a parade and ceremony downtown. The parade will start at noon and run from Monument Circle to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, via Georgia Street, where the team will be honored with a ceremony.
Due to the parade and celebration, Pennsylvania Street will be closed to through traffic beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The southwest quadrant of Monument Circle will also be closed for staging, starting at 11 a.m.