Ariel Atkins is taking on new role as ‘game ambassador’ initially appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Final WNBA offseason, Ariel Atkins spent her time taking part in on a Ukrainian basketball group earlier than the Russian invasion prompted the league to maneuver to Bulgaria. Two years in the past she was in Turkey earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic led Atkins to make the choice to move dwelling early. Earlier than then, she traveled midway around the globe to play in Australia’s WNBL and earlier than that Poland.
It wasn’t till this offseason, following the 2022 marketing campaign, that Atkins obtained a real break from the sport for the primary time since earlier than she was drafted. And that is when you look previous her Workforce USA obligations on the FIBA World Cup in late September.
This yr she made the offseason a real “off” season; no abroad basketball for the primary time in her skilled profession. As one can think about, she’s having fun with the day off.
However that didn’t hold her away from a basketball courtroom for the seven months in-between seasons. She joined a youth clinic in Raleigh again in November and not too long ago caught up with NBC Sports activities Washington whereas teaching on the NBA Academy Ladies’s Camp in Latin America.
“I all the time get pleasure from being part of something that I can do to present again to the basketball neighborhood,” Atkins mentioned.
“A giant motive why I did not go abroad is so I might settle for alternatives like this.”
The camp occurred over 4 days in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Atkins was one in all three present WNBA gamers concerned within the occasion. There, 29 of the highest high-school-age prospects from 13 Latin America and Caribbean international locations acquired basketball-development coaching and took half in every day competitions.
In no way is it the primary time Atkins has coached in a camp of this model. However having the ability to step away from taking part in in different international locations is opening up new avenues for her. Teaching on the NBA Academy isn’t one thing she might have carried out in earlier years just because she wasn’t stateside. Her free time has additionally allowed her to affix a number of panels within the D.C. space and make plans to launch her personal clothes line later within the yr.
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All these alternatives have opened her perspective of what she will be able to do outdoors of being an athlete. A yr off has given her a brand new outlook on her profession and what the following chapter will appear like.
“It is positively useful,” Atkins advised NBC Sports activities Washington about if this offseason opened her eyes to how she will be able to strategy future years. “I feel it positively offers me a distinct avenue and completely different alternative. It is to not say I will by no means return abroad, however it’s eye-opening to know that there are alternatives not solely over right here within the States, however only for me being who I’m and rising into who I’m not solely as an individual, however I assume you would type of say like an envoy for the sport.”
A lot of the flexibleness Atkins has now can be credited to her new contract. Final offseason the guard signed a two-year extension that got here with an enormous pay increase. Her wage from the 2022 season practically matched the entire she collected on her four-year rookie deal.
Now, she does not need to go abroad to easily make a dwelling as knowledgeable basketball participant. She will be able to get pleasure from the advantages of being a two-time WNBA All-Star, a gold medal-winning Olympian and a proud member of Workforce USA.
“I imply, it has been enjoyable. I am having fun with it, being able to go see my household type of after I need, type of constructing by myself coaching schedule. Engaged on some issues outdoors of basketball, it has been actually enjoyable. I’ve loved it. I’ve loved type of, I assume, studying tips on how to not be an athlete on a regular basis,” Atkins mentioned.