JOLIET – More than 60 young girls from the Joliet area will be talking for a long time about how they spent their Labor Day morning.
Chicago Sky guard and Joliet Catholic graduate Allie Quigley, the two-time reigning WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, ran her annual Allie Quigley Labor Day Basketball Camp on Monday in the Joliet Central fieldhouse.
Quigley was ably assisted by her three siblings – Samantha, Ryan and Jake – along with Joliet Catholic girls coach Nick Leonard, Joliet West coach John Placher and Joliet Central coach Laura Brumfiel. They combined their talents to teach the girls lots of basketball in a three-hour period that flew by.
“This is nice to have this in the fieldhouse with all the baskets and courts,” Quigley said. “Thanks to Joliet Central for hosting. It’s a good group of girls. It’s exciting to be here with them.”
Quigley signed scores of autographs and posed with the girls for nearly as many pictures. The campers all received T-shirts, and awards were presented to those who showed particularly well one way or another.
When the camp wrapped up, Quigley emphasized to the girls the value of trying various athletic endeavors while they are young.
“When you find you really love a certain sport, then stick with it,” she said. “You don’t always have to have a team to work on your game, either. You can find a partner, a wall, a basketball hoop ... you always can find a way to be outside, have fun and make yourself better.”
Quigley, 30, has been described as a gym rat who did not give up when the deck seemed stacked against her. Her early years in the WNBA were an up-and-down ride, but she stuck with it.
Since joining the Sky before the 2013 season, she has come into her own. Now she is a key contributor off the bench for a team making a push for prime position in the WNBA playoffs.
With six games remaining in the regular season, the Sky (15-13) holds the fourth seed for the eight-team playoffs. If the playoffs were starting now, Chicago would host the winner of a first-round game in a one-game battle for a semifinal berth.
“As long as we keep winning here, we’re in good shape to get the 4-spot,” Quigley said. “We had a good chance to work on some things during the five weeks we were off, and Elena (Delle Donne) came back from the Olympics and obviously has been playing great.”
The Olympics, of course, were the reason for the long break in the WNBA season.
“It did feel weird to be off that long and only practicing, but now we’re back into a routine,” Quigley said.
The Sky, who begin a three-game road trip Wednesday night at Washington, have won four straight since returning from the break. They were beginning to right the ship just before the break.
“We were right there earlier in the season, but we had a lot of those five-point losses,” Quigley said. “We were missing something, and it seems like we found it now. We have to keep it going.”
Quigley has appeared in all 28 Sky games and is averaging 16.6 minutes, 9.3 points, 0.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.6 steals. She is shooting .477 from the floor, .393 from 3-point range and .900 from the free throw line.
“I’m trying to be aggressive and effective regardless of the minutes I play,” she said. “As long as we are winning, it is all good.
“What is making us good right now is we have everyone contributing. We need 12 players to make this thing work. At this level, everyone has talent. The teams that win are the teams that play best together.”
Delle Donne was among the athletes who posed for “ESPN Magazine: The Body Issue” this year. Asked whether her teammates on the close-knit Sky teased Delle Donne about it, Quigley said no.
“She looked great in the magazine,” Quigley said. “All that hard work she put in to get her body where it is, it’s great to show that. I think it’s more cool than anything that she did that.”
Quigley always has worked hard to keep her body in top condition. A couple of weeks after this season ends, she will be returning to Turkey to play another professional season with Fenerbahce SK.
Last season, she was with that team and not far from the site where a bombing occurred in Istanbul.
“I was considering not going back after that,” Quigley said. “But certain areas there do feel safe. If you heed the warnings, things will be OK. And, if I change my mind, I always can come back home.”
Last season, Quigley received the MVP award in a Turkish Cup tournament that her team won. Her team was the bronze medalist in Euroleague play.
Now, she is working at helping the Sky get in the best position possible for the WNBA playoffs. She was a huge contributor in 2014 as the Sky reached the WNBA Finals.
She knows a little something about what it takes for a young woman to reach her full potential. One of her main objectives Monday to impart that knowledge to 60-some up-and-coming girls basketball players.
They were listening attentively.