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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

MAKING ASSISTS (ON AND OFF THE COURT)

Temeka Johnson is one of those rare players that if you are fortunate enough, you get an opportunity to coach once in your life. She is the type of young person that you want to lead your team. When she is your captain, you don't worry about the other players on your team making bad decisions off the court. She is there to encourage, to counsel, and even discipline if necessary. She taught me a great deal about leadership. In fact, I have blogged about her leadership qualities before at:

And she is still leading the way!

Taking over at point guard she has helped transform the Phoenix Mercury into a team that didn't make the playoffs last year to a team into the Western Conference Championship. Her leadership and mental toughness are apparent most when they are needed most -- on the road -- where Pheonix as the WNBA's best record at 9-5.

But that barely scratches the surface of her ability to lead. A few years she decided she want to be more of a leader in the community started her own foundation -- The H.O.P.E. Foundation. The word H.O.P.E. in an acrostic for Heaven Opens Peoples Eyes, which speaks to her strong spiritual beliefs. She is interested in helping in the areas of education, the elderly and the homeless. Last year she adopted Magnolia Woods Elementary. She read to students, she assisted in PE classes, she lectured to the entire student body on several occasions, she gave students motivational items, and helped purchase equipment for PE classes. She also developed a GPA program where students who raised their GPA a certain level received a pair of Nike basketball shoes. Over 70 pair were distributed. On "Teacher Appreciation Day" she teamed up with another Lady Tiger Quianna Chaney and catered a meal for all the teachers.

Now her goal is to create a scholarship in the name of her grandmother who passed away last year. Her grandmother was also a teacher and had a tremendous influence on Temeka and countless others.

Temeka's passion for her foundation is truly amazing. As a young woman who plays in the WNBA, she also takes the opportunity to play overseas. She works her overseas schedule in such a way that she departs late in order to give her time to work on her foundation and her adopted school. This costs her dollars in her contract but she is a believer in making herself accessible to those she is helping.
My belief in her and her vision is so strong that I head up her Foundation Board (I think she loves being my boss).

Already this year she has created a post with her and Sylvia Fowles with the proceeds going to the HOPE Foundation. Last week, she hosted an event following a Phoenix home game. You can read about it at this link:


To learn more about Temeka's HOPE Foundation, visit: http://www.meekshope.org/