Kam Williams | 8/8/2012, 10:44 a.m.
Laurel J. Richie has more...

The WNBA is very proud of the fact that all 12 members of the U.S. Women’s Senior National Team are WNBA players. For them to represent our country on an international stage is terrific. Millions around the world will see them and have the opportunity to get to know them not only as great athletes, but as interesting and inspiring women.

Why is there a lag in the WNBA’s ratings in comparison to the NBA’s?

We are a young league — now in our 16th season — and we have seen our attendance and viewership increase for each of the past five years. Our growth is a direct result of the fact that our game is exciting and highly competitive and our in-arena experience is a ton of fun.

Once people come to a game, they are hooked. In many ways, I think the WNBA is changing the way America views women and is having a positive impact on the way America views professional athletes. We’re showing the world what women can be as athletes and what athletes can be as citizens.

To what do you credit your success?

My parents. As far back as I can remember their commitment to making a positive impact on the communities in which they lived and worked was equal only to their commitment to helping my sisters, brother and I achieve our dreams.

Tell me a little about what mentoring young black girls means to you?

Throughout my career, I have benefitted from the experience and counsel of a wide range of people who took a very personal interest in me. As a result, I am always happy to share lessons learned from my journey with others. I am particularly passionate about mentoring young black girls. While we are a very diverse group, there is a special bond that connects us to each other. When I work with them, I see them in me and I believe they see me in them. By coming together, we are able to show the world the power and the promise of black girls.

Will part of your mission involve encouraging your WNBA players to see themselves as role models and to devote more of their free time to mentoring?

I don’t have to encourage our players to be positive role models. That is something that has always been important to them and something that they very willingly embrace. Whether it’s through the WNBA Cares program or through their own initiatives, WNBA players give as much off the court as they do on the court.

They are committed to making a positive impact on the communities in which they live and work, and they do it in very different ways. Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash mentor young girls on self-esteem through their foundations, Tina Charles helped build a school in Africa with her personal donation and Ruth Riley travels the world to bring attention to global diseases. The list goes on. I am very proud of all our players as they truly are inspiring role models for young girls  —  and young boys.