The Evolving Role of Chicago Sky Ann Crosby – Chicago Magazine

When Chicago Sky raises the banner marking the franchise’s first WNBA Championship and wraps it up with a ring party on May 24, Anne Crosby will see a dream come true—more than 15 years in the making.

“She started out strictly as a strength and conditioning coach,” says Michael Alter, owner of Chicago Sky.

Prior to joining Sky, Crosby was a head strength and conditioning coach for 18 sports teams at the University of Illinois-Chicago, a job that few women held. At that time, Sky played in the UIC pavilion. Crosby’s role meant she could be spotted on the wing, on the court and on the bench, helping the ICU men’s and women’s basketball teams warm up and stretch. During the 2006 UIC men’s basketball game, Altar and Georgia Fisher (then athletic coach and operations manager) approached Crosby about a job with Sky.

Crosby had a number of victories at that point: As a strength and conditioning coach, her professional career included championship titles both professionally and collectively, including a FIFA World Cup title with Germany’s women’s national team. The idea of ​​adding a WNBA title to her resume sparked her competitive spirit.

But the championship eluded the franchise year after year. When the team drafted Elena Delle Donne in 2013, it marked the start of three straight years of playoff competitions. The 2014 Finals were especially painful when the Phoenix Mercury swept the team in their best of five series. Yet year after year, Crosby remained committed to doing whatever work was necessary to help the team succeed.

“I am, unfortunately, a perfectionist,” Crosby says. My family was asking me, why am I still there? Don’t you want to be in the NFL? And I’m like, “Yeah, but I haven’t won yet.” It might take a few years, it might take some pain, but I didn’t win at that level and couldn’t let that go.”

This means that Crosby’s role has grown to include everything the team needs to grow: travel agent, surrogate mother, personal assistant, attorney, dietician, therapist, and more.

The Chicago Sky team prepares to play a game against the Los Angeles Sparks at Winterst Arena on May 6. John C. Kim /Chicago Tribune

Her spirit of doing everything has never been more evident than in Diamond DeShields physical rehabilitation, the 2021 Sky Championship goalkeeper who now plays for Phoenix Mercury Sun. DeShields had to learn again how to control her body after having surgery to remove a tumor from her spine that caused violent tremors and numbness in her feet. ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” recently revealed that Crosby has been one of the DeShields’ caregivers and support pillars on her way to recovery. Crosby spent hours with DeShields while she was hospitalized and assisted the guard during her rehabilitation to regain control of her motor skills. Less than a year later, DeShields was able to make her way back to court but still had uncontrollable orgasms caused by heightened emotions. DeShields’ medical condition was not public at the time, so Crosby guarded her from the cameras and helped keep the player’s condition private.

“Ann always works and always works and usually works on behalf of someone else,” Alter says. “Her commitment [to work] reach the highest level. She does so in a spirit of humility and servanthood. She is always smiling and always ready to step in and help.”

Despite the time it took to win the championship, Crosby says she never considered leaving, and she credits Sky’s People organization and the diversity of her work.

“It’s easy now, years later and with the championship, to look back and say it was worth it,” Alter says. “But at the time, (we) are really fighting for something you don’t know if and when will come. What we’ve been fighting for is more than just heroism. We’ve been fighting for credibility, feasibility, and being taken very seriously trying to prove to everyone That these women are exceptional and should be appreciated and appreciated.”

The championship title, games played at the Wintrust Arena, and the slate of famous names that have taken root — along with the announcement that the WNBA All-Star Game is headed to Chicago — certainly indicate a turning point for the team. But don’t expect Crosby to let her get in the head.

“At the end of the day, this is a job,” she says. “You have to act like no one cares if you’re doing your job, as long as you’re doing it. Just keep working harder to make things better.”

“Ann Crosby is synonymous with Chicago Sky,” Candice Parker said at the October rally. Walter Mitchell

When the banner goes up and the rings are distributed on May 24, Crosby will make sure the players are warm and the rings are safely stored away so everyone can focus on winning the evening game. In other words, you’ll do what you’ve always done: focus on the job you’re doing.

“When you say Chicago Sky, you can’t say Anne Crosby,” said Candice Parker, who won the WNBA MVP twice during the Team Championship Rally on October 19, 2021. “Anne Crosby is synonymous with Chicago Sky”.

In just a few words, Parker acknowledged the dedication of a woman who served the team for almost 17 years, and at that moment gave her the gift of an appearance, after so many years intentionally spent behind the scenes.

“It really means a lot that someone has noticed. I don’t do this work until I get noticed,” Crosby says. “Having someone of Candice’s nature realize that this was… cool.”

And Parker wasn’t the only one who noticed Crosby’s effort, which arguably was one of the pillars of Chicago Sky’s success.

“She is an incredible hard worker, because she is so focused on doing things right and doing them [at] At a very high level,” says Alter. “There would be no heaven without Anne.”

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