Nothing But Net

. December 3, 2019.
The WPBA team owners and staff. (L-R) Bernell Hooker, Chris Bass, Rasheeda Thomas, Caroline Watson, Aja Williams, Rita Haywood, Tamika Milburn, Sandi Brown, Ernesia Wrights, Barvenia Wooten and Jewell Carter.
The WPBA team owners and staff. (L-R) Bernell Hooker, Chris Bass, Rasheeda Thomas, Caroline Watson, Aja Williams, Rita Haywood, Tamika Milburn, Sandi Brown, Ernesia Wrights, Barvenia Wooten and Jewell Carter.

Women’s Professional Basketball Association chooses Toledo

Women’s professional basketball is officially coming to town, joining the Mud Hens and Walleye as a member of Toledo sports culture. The Women’s Professional Basketball Association recently announced that they plan to make Toledo, Ohio their official headquarters, bringing jobs, youth programming and plenty of athletic talent our way.

The decision, announced November 8 in a press conference, was led by WPBA Deputy Commissioner Saundra Brown, the owner of Toledo women’s professional team, the Toledo Threat. The new league will incorporate 12 teams, most located along the East Coast, as well as the Threat, culminating in a tournament tentatively planned for August 2020.

Toledo was chosen because of its potential for growth, according to Brown, who emphasized that while the WPBA also considered Philadelphia and Atlanta as homes for the league office, those cities already enjoy a robust sports culture. “Philly and Atlanta were already established sports communities,” she explained, noting that the WPBA opted for Toledo because “[we] felt like the league could really make a difference in the community,” in terms of economics and education.

‘More than basketball’

Cityside---WPBA---logo

“We’re offering internships to students in local colleges,” the deputy commissioner said, acknowledging that the league is already having a positive effect. She explained that while Toledo Threat team members are now working with area youth, the WPBA will also join in this effort, growing their efforts to provide positive outlets for children and teens. Brown looks forward to community support for the Threat, sharing that “the WPBA is looking forward to that same support now that [the league] is here.”

The WPBA follows the WNBA as a professional women’s basketball league, and what sets them apart, Brown explains, is the teams’ focus on not just great athletes, but the whole individual. “Each team has the same goal; we provide opportunities for our players, and we focus on life after basketball,” Brown said. One major goal is for the WPBA is to build a fanbase that will require games to be played in larger venues, such as downtown Toledo’s Huntington Center, currently home to the Toledo Walleye, which also hosts a variety of performances and concerts. WPBA events will be announced soon, including coaches clinics, AAU tournaments, and a fitness series.

Tricia Cullop, head coach for the UT Toledo Rockets women’s team, also expressed excitement about the league’s upcoming move. “We are thrilled to hear the Toledo Threat will join a new league, and that the league headquarters for the WPBA will be in Toledo,” she said. “It is a great opportunity for our graduates who wish to continue to play the game they love.”

Visit thewpba.com for updates.