US Olympic Women's Basketball Team 2012: 10 Things to Know About Candace Parker
One of the most popular women's basketball players in history (probably second only to Lisa Leslie), few people know much about Parker.
However, after reading this list you'll feel like an expert.
Soccer Was Her First Love
Basketball wasn't always Candace Parker's favorite sport. In fact, she grew up idolizing Mia Hamm and the 1996 U.S. women's soccer team.
Parker wanted to be a soccer player growing up and she was great at it. She reminiscences about scoring five goals in one game and having her dad yell at her for not doing her best.
However, her parents kept telling her that there aren't many 6'4" soccer players, and once she started playing basketball for real at 11 or 12, she fell in love.
Her Dad Was the One Who Kept Challenging Her
All athletes need to be pushed by someone, and for Candace Parker that someone was her father.
Parker's dad always pushed her to do her best, even if she didn't have to try all that hard to be the best. She talks about how he challenged her in an interview with ESPN.
"This is the type of dad he is: Any time you have a horrible game, he'll be there for you and make you feel a little bit better, but any time you have a great game, he feels it's his job to bring you back down to reality. When I was playing soccer, I asked him, 'How come that girl scored one goal and her dad carried her off the field on his shoulders, but you're yelling at me after scoring five goals?' But that's just my dad."
Thanks to her father's pushing, she is now one of the best women's basketball players in history.
She's Arguably the Best Player in College Basketball History
During her time under Pat Summit at Tennessee, Candace Parker became arguably the best player to ever play in college.
Although she started as one of the first redshirt freshmen in school history along with teammate Alex Fuller, she soon made a huge impact during her three seasons with the school.
Parker came onto the scene as a redshirt freshman, and she was named as an All-American at the end of the year. She became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game that year as well, doing so against Army.
During her sophomore and junior campaigns she led Tennessee to back-to-back National Championships, and was named the National Player of the Year during both seasons. She was also the fastest player to reach 1000 career points, and became the first to dunk twice in a game.
These achievements make her possibly the best college player in history, and it's tough to argue against her.
She Loves to Study History When She Travels
Candace Parker is a big history buff, and she loves to go to historic places and study up when she travels.
It all started when, as a child, she and her dad would read about places they were going before they left. It stuck.
Now she says her future destinations are the Egyptian pyramids, Normandy and a Holocaust concentration camp.
Her Three-Year-Old Daughter Always Joins Her on the Road
When Candace Parker is on the move, so is her three-year-old daughter, Lailaa.
With a mother and father (Sheldon Williams, New Jersey Nets) both playing professional basketball, Lailaa travels a lot, and apparently she already has extra pages in her passport.
Lailaa was just six months old when she first went to Russia, and now she's been all over the world.
She Plays in Siberia During the WNBA Offseason
When she's not playing for the Los Angeles Sparks or the U.S. Olympic team, Candace Parker plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia.
A two-hour flight from Moscow, she is very close to Siberia when she plays—a very different climate than L.A.
It has to be tough going from the 90 degree heat of the west coast to the -24 degree chill of Siberia.
She Gets Homesick Often
Living on the road has to be hard for Candace Parker, and she gets homesick. Luckily, she's found a way to combat it.
Parker has a photo album on her phone of her friends and family, and when she's missing home or feeling down she'll take out her phone and scroll through her photos.
It looks like it's been working for her.
Pregnancy Didn't Stop Her from Working Out
Candace Parker is a tough athlete with a great competitive spirit, and she didn't take off from working out even when she was pregnant.
In an interview with ESPN she documented her workouts.
"I didn't just work out after I gave birth; I worked out during my whole pregnancy to have a base. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but I actually played a couple games while I was pregnant...I worked out four or five times a week, did the elliptical, walked my dog, just stayed extremely active."
Staying in shape has certainly helped her, and she still looks like she's been in shape her whole life.
She Posed for ESPN the Magazine's Body Issue
Like I said, Candace Parker looks like she's been in shape her entire life, and she posed in her second Body Issue in ESPN The Magazine this year.
Parker is in terrific shape, and she recently showed it off in the issue.
She Still Writes in Her High School Diary
Candace Parker is a unique player, but also a unique person.
According to an interview with Teen Vogue, she still writes in a diary that she's kept since high school, and she finds it very relaxing.
She loves to write it in during the offseason, and it is how she unwinds after a long season or two.