Wendy Palmer – Detroit Shock
There are times four-year WNBA veteran Wendy Palmer still feels like a rookie –though others might protest. She recalls how stunned Washington Mystics Vicky Bullett was to learn Palmer was only 26. “I thought you were at least 30,” Bullett told her. “You play like you’re 30. Not old, but just smart.”
For Palmer, playing smarter is the key to future success. “If you don’t become smarter,” she says, “if your game doesn’t become more mental, you’re going to find yourself on the way out.”
And Palmer, her team’s leading scorer, rebounder and WNBA-All Star, definitely wants to stay in.
So, though winter finds Palmer living in Detroit, working within the community and making frequent visits to her family back in North Carolina, basketball still plays a major role in her daily life.
After the WNBA four-city tour ended in November, she began working with the Birmingham Groves girls’ varsity basketball team as an assistant coach. January through April will find Palmer making appearances for the WNBA’s “Be Active” tour, the league’s nationwide health and fitness program.
Oh, and she’s also busy preparing for the next WNBA season.
As a team, the Shock are coming off a spirit-testing year. “It was rough,” said Palmer of a season that had more than its fair share of bad losses. “I had my moments when I couldn’t take it anymore.” But, according to Palmer, a good player does self-inventory and then works to improve their game. Good-naturedly she resists revealing what she’s working on, satisfied with dropping the sly reminder, “I used to run track.”
A potentially faster Palmer will be teaming up with new Shock coach, Greg Williams. Williams reminds Palmer of Randy Doss, the AAU coach she laughingly remembers as cursing her up and down the court. “I didn’t take what he was saying to heart. I knew he only wanted to bring out the best in me.”
Palmer expects the same from Williams.
Williams expects her to be a leader, and Palmer wants only directness from him – tell her what she needs to do, and call her out on it when she’s not doing it. “I’m not going to break down and cry – I don’t need your approval. I just want to play the game and take advantage of every chance I get. Because you know what? You don’t realize you don’t have a tomorrow. You’re not guaranteed anything.