Congratulations are going out today to Duke women's basketball guard and Coloradan, Abby Waner, on her no. 21 selection in yesterday's WNBA draft. A solid competitor, leader, and scholar, Waner was the 2nd pick by the New York Liberty. A Highlands Ranch (CO) ThunderRidge High School standout and Colorado Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Waner contributed over the last four years to Duke's NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 2006 finals when Duke lost to Maryland in a heartbreaker.
The entire Waner family holds a special place in our hearts. Extending a little Southern hospitality to our fellow Colorado transplants, I've had the chance to set for awhile with Abby's older sister and former Duke player, Emily. Emily came to Duke with Abby after playing a year at the University of Colorado where she was a bit frustrated by their slow pace of play.
Emily is herself quite amazing having graduated from Duke with degrees in biological anthropology and anatomy, with minors in chemistry and religion. She's spent the last year working at Duke's Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center as a clinical trials patient recruiter and educator after a summer of medical missionary work in Guatemala. We were, therefore, quite happy to learn last month that Emily has been accepted to Duke's School of Medicine for the Class of 2013. (Emily had been part of Dr Henry Friedman's Duke CAPE program to cultivate women collegiate athletes into medical careers; we covered the program previously when discussing Henry as a great ally of women in science and medicine.)
We also have shared brunch after running into Abby and her family when she first moved to Durham while picking up PharmKid's 3rd birthday cake at a local bakery/bistro (I have photos but PharmMom is not keen on her granddaughter's picture being out on the intertubes). We had season tickets for Duke WBB their first two years here and this early immersion in women's basketball led the PharmKid to be shocked when first seeing men playing basketball on TV.
Abby has had a long-time interest in being a broadcast sports commentator and did an internship with ESPN last year. Making the team with the Liberty will place her geographically in a hot bed of sports journalism and I'm certain that both her basketball and broadcast career will blossom up in the Tri-State area.
The picture is from a great 2007 USAToday article about the sisters that describes how intensely they compete with one another. No surprise then that they come from accomplished athletic stock.
The women's dad, Tim, owns a highly-respected commercial construction company just outside of Denver and as a standout shortstop at the University of Denver was himself drafted into the New York Yankees organization (great Colorado Classics article about Mr Waner). Mom Jeanne is, last time I checked, a psychologist and smoking mountain trail runner. I'm waiting for these folks to write a parenting book.
It warms my heart to see good kids work hard and do well. But I guess they're not kids anymore.
Congratulations Abby and Em! (And Tim, Jeanne, and brother Alex!)
Nice article highlighting women athletes and scholars, thanks! Also appreciate the chance to learn about CAPE. Do you know of any similar programs at other schools?