Napheesa Collier may not be the flashiest player you will every see on the basketball court; she is the type of hard working player who simply does whatever it takes for her team to win. She’ll grab a key offensive rebound to keep a possession alive, can score from inside and outside, is a savvy passer, and is a shot-blocking force on defense.
After a storied high school career in Missouri, Collier brought her all around game to the dynastic University of Connecticut. Legendary coach Geno Auriemma made the 6’1″ forward work harder than she ever had and Collier responded, playing a key role on four Final Four teams, including on the undefeated 2016 national championship squad. The WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, who made Collier the 6th overall pick of the 2019 WNBA Draft, have been the beneficiaries of her do-what-it-takes-to-win ethos. Toggling between small forward and power forward, she earned 2019 Rookie of the Year honors.
Now, Collier is bringing her winning attitude to the climate change fight, becoming the 35th EcoAthletes Champion and the first from the WNBA.
“I can’t say there was an ‘aha moment’ for me on climate change,” shared Collier from lock down in France — like many professional women basketball players, she plays two seasons every year, for the Lynx and now, for Montpellier in the top French league. “I started learning about it, got concerned about climate change’s harmful impacts now and in the future. This led me to learn more about it, and then I got even more concerned. So that’s when I decided to act.”
One of Collier’s first climate actions was to take part in a fall 2020 fundraiser held by the Environmental Voter Project, an innovative nonprofit that works to identify infrequent voters who list the environment and/or climate change as their #1 or #2 issue and turn them into environmental voters.
Being a true team player, joining the EcoAthletes Champions squad was the next logical step on Collier’s climate action journey.
“I was excited to find out that EcoAthletes brings together a community of athletes who want to connect with their fans on the environment,” Collier related. “I’m glad the organization can teach me more about the environment and climate and then I will share that knowledge with my community.”
EcoAthletes founder and President Lew Blaustein is certain that Collier is the right addition to the Champions roster at the right time.
“The WNBA has become the gold standard among North American pro sports leagues when it comes to athlete activism,” noted Blaustein. “From racial justice to pay equity and more, the ‘W’ has taken the lead. Now that Napheesa Collier has become an EcoAthletes Champion, we can’t wait to see her help the WNBA join the #ClimateComeback and become the Climate Action League.”
Photo at Top: Napheesa Collier (Photo credit: Minnesota Lynx)