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What These Athletes Learned From Their Pandemic Pauses

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I think it’s just kind of a testament to everything that I went through last year. Being able to be back where I was, being able to play at such a high level and make an impact. I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to do, and it shows. Not a lot of people come back from an Achilles’ injury and have the same impact, and I was still able to have a huge impact.

It’s the mind-set and just the work ethic. I was in rehab as many days as I could be and continued to put the pressure on myself because I was the only one that was going to get me back to this place. I put in the time. It’s a lot of tedious stuff and it’s just about being patient and doing the right thing. I’m 26 years old, I have a lot of playing days left and I want to make sure I make the most of them and I want to put myself in a position to be able to do that.

It was kind of weird leaving. I took a 6 a.m. flight back to Seattle and it was like, ‘OK, bye.’ There wasn’t much more to it. We celebrated that night. And then people took their flights, people got to go home. I landed back in Seattle and my mom picked me up and we went back home. I think that’s what it needed to be. We had a virtual Zoom celebration with our fans, which was cool. But, you know, we all know you can’t replicate things on Zoom. Whenever I see anybody, they say congratulations, which is nice.

It was weird seeing different people than the ones I’ve been seeing every single day. When I was walking down the street in Seattle, I’m seeing people that I’ve never seen before. When I’m walking down the street in the bubble, I’m seeing the same people over and over again.

I think the one thing I’ll miss is safety. You got to have a conversation with people and not be worried about where they’ve been or who they’ve been around or the possibility of having Covid-19. Our bubble was super, super secure and that was nice.

Looking back on this time, I’ll think of the important messages that we were able to highlight. I’ll think about what happened during quarantine from, like, March to June, when we basically were not going anywhere. Everybody was in their house and, like I said, appreciating the little things in life. I’ll think about Breonna Taylor. I think that she still hasn’t achieved justice, even if there was a settlement. And we need to continue to be better.

I’m going to remember that we were able to come together as a league, all of the players representing more than just us. It’s going to be a historic season because we really amplified the message and that was priority No. 1, and then we played basketball.

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