A product of John Marshall High School on Chicago’s West Side, Cappie Pondexter has racked up a number of accolades including All-Star appearances, a Finals MVP award, and championships in not only the WNBA, but also a number of professional leagues overseas as well.
Voted as one of the top 15 all-time greats in the history of the WNBA, she has undoubtedly left her mark on the game of basketball and proven to be an inspiration to a generation of the game’s aficionados.
One of the latest accolades being bestowed upon Pondexter is a Leaders & Legends award by emerge/NEXT and the Museum of Science and Industry as part of their upcoming Teen Innovation Summit 2020 for her commitment to developing future leaders.
The Teen Innovation Summit, being held at the Museum of Science and Industry on Wednesday, February 12, is a high-energy, one-day learning experience designed for students who are interested in STEM and creativity.
“Cappie’s participation in the Teen Innovation Summit is incredibly important as she leads with grace and a humble yet competitive spirit,” says founder and event producer Alissa Constable. “She has a lot to teach emerging leaders about dedication and being supportive of others.”
N’DIGO recently caught up with Pondexter to talk about her career, her plans for life after basketball, her dedication to mentoring the youth, and her favorite memory of the late great Kobe Bryant.
N’DIGO: In your own words, who is Cappie Pondexter?
Cappie Pondexter: She is an absolute winner on and off the court! She believed in the vision of being more than just an athlete long before it became popular, too. I loved the game of basketball and dedicated everything I had to it.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue basketball professionally? Did you consider anything else as a career or did you always know it would be basketball?
Basketball was my first love and the only sport I truly loved and wanted to pursue professionally, although in high school I enjoyed running cross country because it gave me the endurance I needed to be a champion on every level.
You’ve had a storied career including championships and are widely considered one of the best in WNBA history. Is there anything as far as basketball that you haven’t done yet but still want to do?
Of course as a competitor you want to win everything, but honestly I wouldn’t change anything about my career. I enjoyed my journey and wouldn’t trade those treasured memories for a thing in the world.
Can you share your thoughts on the recently announced new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the WNBA and break it down for those who may not understand its magnitude and importance?
It’s absolutely a step in the right direction. We still have a long way to go in the name of complete equality between the leagues, but this is for sure a big step. I think we are making the right steps for women’s equality and as a pioneer of the game and the WNBA, I am very happy to see that.
We know that the late great Kobe Bryant was a fan and advocate of the WNBA. Having spent some time as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks, do you have any memories or funny stories you care to share in relation to him?
Yeah, Kobe was great in every way. I loved his urgency to help the women’s game grow. My funniest memory or story would be him schooling me on classical music during the Olympics back in 2008. I was really impressed with his knowledge of Mozart and Beethoven and his true love for music.
What’s the feeling like to be one of the Leaders & Legends honored at the upcoming Teen Innovation Summit?
It’s always humbling to be recognized for my hard work. When I first got the news I was really excited and thankful for the opportunity to come back home to Chicago.
How important is it to you to mentor and give back to youth?
Oh, it’s very important for me. Growing up, I didn’t have many female mentors so to have the honor and privilege of being one to this next generation is something I never take for granted. I’m always willing to help the youth. Always!
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I enjoy watching the sun rise and set. Like I really have a thing for it. I also enjoy writing in journals and putting my thoughts and feelings to paper.
Best advice to young people?
Never stop dreaming regardless of what society says to you. You, too, can accomplish any goals that you set your mind to! If it’s written on your heart, please pursue it.
Favorite quote or affirmation?
“To whom much is given, much is required.”
What’s next for Cappie Pondexter?
I have so much that I am looking forward to doing. Continuing to help the youth is at the top of my list. Another passion that I plan to focus on is tackling homelessness around the world. I’d also like to write a movie in the near future. These are all things I want to accomplish in the next phase of my life.
Follow Cappie on Instagram and Twitter: @Cappa23