Cappie Pondexter Interview – Being Just One Of The Greatest Isn’t Good Enough

There’s Much More To WNBA Star, Cappie Pondexter – Our Interview

A star on and off the court, Cappie Pondexter has parlayed her way on to the list of the Top 15 Women’s Basketball players of all-time. From a killer crossover, to a style maven, Cappie Pondexter is on her job. The New York Liberty point Guard sat down with us recently to talk about her career and her newest entrepreneurial venture among other things.  The conversation was long but insightful. Check it out…

Parlé Magazine: What would you say was the biggest influence on your decision at such a young age to want to play basketball?
Cappie Pondexter: My brother Ronald has been my greatest influence; hes the one that started me out playing ball, taking me to the courts and things. That was the 90’s era in Chicago. Basketball player wise, without a doubt I would say Michael Jordan. I’m from Chicago, and you can only imagine the impact he had on all of us growing up at that time.

Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter stuns On and Off The Court

Parlé: You were born in California, and raised in Chicago, what are some of your memories growing up in both places, and what were some values that those areas instilled in you both on and off the court?
Cappie Pondexter:  Most of my memories from a substantial point are of growing up in Chicago and they are very positive. What I remember most was how much fun we had. And basketball. Man, we would play non-stop, I’m talking bout sun up to sun down and we all loved it. It was always my passion. The line, “Be like Mike” originated in Chicago! (Laughs) The Bulls were the hottest thing in basketball and we all had those dreams of emulating what MJ had done.

Parlé:  You were very successful in high school on the basketball Court and you were also named Miss Illinois 2 years in a row. How was that experience? Was that one of the defining moments in terms of you knowing that the dream of being a professional was obtainable?
Cappie Pondexter:  That experience was great. I was actually the first person to win the award back-to-back so that was definitely a great honor for me. I was blessed to play for one of the greatest coaches in Illinois High School Basketball history and I definitely credit that for my development. My game was advanced and it was a product of good direction and teaching.

Cappie Pondexter Interview
Cappie Takes On Fashion

Parlé:  It seems like a long time ago now, but you were recruited by virtually every program in America, why’d you end up choosing Rutgers?
Cappie Pondexter:  As you said I could have went anywhere but it came down to one major factor and that was comfortability. For me that was very important during the process of choosing where I would play collegiately; comfortability on and off the court. It came down to a choice between UCONN and Rutgers. When it was all said and done, me and my family felt extremely comfortable with Coach Stringer so I choose Rutgers. Coach Stringer reminded me of my mom and I felt that she would provide me the best preparation going forward both in life and in basketball.

Parlé:  The team captured Big East titles back to back, what is the greatest memory of your teammates and time?
Cappie Pondexter:  Coach Stringer always preached Sisterhood to us and as teammates we always had a bond and still do to this day!  It was deeper than just basketball and being on the court, we loved being together. We are connected in life to this day and that for me that is the greatest memory. I value those times so much. We are family. I could honestly go on and on about specific moments. I am blessed to have 2 teammates now with the Liberty who were at Rutgers with me, and we undoubtedly continue that tradition. We will all cherish that bond for life.

Parlé:  How was it playing for the legendary Vivian C Stringer?
Cappie Pondexter:  Coach Stringer is a legend in her own right, you can just name all the accolades as well as speak to anyone that knows her personally. Playing for her was amazing. First and foremost she taught us values, most importantly about being a woman and never settling, demanding what we want and will work for in life. That’s important and I stand by that to this very day. I appreciate that. Athletically she is a GREAT coach, evident by her success. She was about skill set and development, not just talent. In my time at Rutgers my talent level improved tremendously and that was through learning the game, the X’s and O’s, watching film. Those were things instilled in me by coach. That will always stick with me as well as the lessons about being a great woman; we learned a lot from the life of coach, she was never hampered by what she has been through, she learned and applied. I am just following in that path.

Parlé:  Fast forward a little bit. You were drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, 2nd overall, that must have been an overwhelming moment. How long did it take for the whole thing to sink it, that you had finally made it?
Cappie Pondexter:  I would say that it sunk it the day of the draft. Being drafted was overwhelming and I remember every moment of being there at the draft and hearing my name called. It was a whirlwind, with all the press commitments and things, I remember having to leave my family and head to the airport to fly to Phoenix to take part in press day there, at that moment in the airport and on the flight it HIT ME. It hit me that I reached my goal of playing professional basketball.

Parlé:  Who were some athletes that you grew up idolizing, male or female?
Cappie Pondexter:  Like I mentioned before definitely Michael Jordan, but I would have to say on the women’s side I had a lot of idols, starting with Cynthia Cooper. Cynthia Cooper was that player. The things she was able to do on the court was different at that time. I hate to use the term but she played like a guy. That was motivating. What she was doing on the basketball court and what she was accomplishing was crazy to watch. In addition I looked up to and loved the games of other players like Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson, Nikki Teasley and Chamique Holdsclaw.

Parlé:  You teamed with Diana Taurasi, what was it like playing with her?
Cappie Pondexter:  Winning that championship in Phoenix was great, we complimented each others games very well. I consider Diana to be if not the best, one of the best shooters in the world. I remember us not making the playoffs before hand and I dedicated myself that whole summer to getting better and we were able to be very successful.

Parlé:  In 2010 you were traded to the NY Liberty, what were your first thoughts?  NYC is arguably the biggest city in world, has it been a big adjustment?
Cappie Pondexter:  No it wasn’t a big adjustment, for a number of reasons actually. For one I am from Chicago and that’s a pretty big city itself, add to that the fact that I played at Rutgers so I was already very familiar with the city and tri-state area as a whole. In terms of the trade itself, I received a lot of backlash in leaving Phoenix, but a lot of people do not know the entire story, they were beginning to pit me and Diana against each other in Phoenix and the fact that it wasn’t working was a strain for the powers that be, so moving to NYC was a blessing for me. It gave me a chance to grow in my personal life. Me and my partner Lisa Smith Craig were looking to expand on our business venture and athletically I knew NY was looking for a star player that could possibly help in pursuit of a championship; I felt that was a great fit.


Parlé:  
Your entrepreneurial venture is doing very well, can you enlighten us in regards to that?
Cappie Pondexter:  Yes, me and my business partner whom I mentioned before, Lisa Smith Craig, started with an idea and eventually formed a company about 3 years ago. The Company is 4Season Style Management. Fashion has always been my other LOVE besides basketball and I wanted to find a way to bring the two together. So we started the company with the goal of helping athletes in the areas of branding, fashion styling, and web designing. At the end of the day we all know that image is very important. Branding and image go hand in hand. So we assist with Red Carpet events for athletes, we do model management, high fashion placements, as well as shoots. Our team is growing and we are very excited about the opportunities before us.

Parlé:  You were named one of the Top 15 players of all time, well deserved, how does it feel to be ranked with some of the All-Time greats in women’s basketball?
Cappie Pondexter:  OVERWHELMING! I am only in my 7th year and to be honored like that is amazing. When I got the call, I was in disbelief. I am so humbled by it, and at the same time I feel that I have so much more to accomplish before my career is over. Being around the other players on that list puts a lot of things into perspective for me. I am honored and inspired to keep putting the work in to get better and help the game of women’s basketball grow. I want to be a role model for females, for young people in general the way some of the other women on the list were for me.

Parlé:  In the off-season many women, like yourself play overseas, can you touch on the experience of playing professionally abroad?
Cappie Pondexter:  I was prepared at a young age in terms of adapting to other cultures and living/playing other places, the dynamics of travel and all of that. I have been traveling since 14 or 15 years old, and I have had the opportunity of representing the U.S. in international competition on numerous occasions. I enjoy playing in Europe, right now I am playing in Turkey this is my 4th season here and I love every minute of it. The fans over here really enjoy and respect Women’s Basketball. Games are continuously sold out, and they are die hard fans, which is great to be a part of.

Parlé:  Your ultimate goal is to be the greatest woman basketball player of all time, tall feat, but do you feel you are on the right track to achieving that standing?
Cappie Pondexter:  Personally I am never satisfied so I keep working at it. I feel like there have been some setbacks like us not making it out the first round of the playoffs this season; I had very high expectations. Not making the Olympic team also is something I have dealt with so I feel like I have more work to do. I’m bringing my trainer over here to Turkey and I’m hard at work putting in the time to get better and move closer to that goal. Hopefully I will reach that level.

Parlé:  Speaking on your not making the Olympics, my personal opinion is that you deserved to be on that team. You have taken it in stride.
Cappie Pondexter:  I am not gonna say that I was happy when it happened, nor was I upset. I respect the decision that the Olympic Committee made, they felt that the team they put together was the best choice to represent Team USA. I went to Beijing in 2008 and was fortunate to be a part of that gold medal team and hopefully I can join in 2016. I am a GOLD MEDALIST forever and that’s something that cannot be taken away from me. I am happy that as a collective TEAM USA women has won 5 in a row.  That is something that no other team can say they have done.


Parlé:  
Final question, how does a gold medal compare to a WNBA Championship?
Cappie Pondexter:  Wow, I can’t really say but I know that if I win a 2nd WNBA championship that would be the best.

For more information on Cappie Pondexter and her company 4Season Style Management, check out her site www.cappiepondexter.com


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