Wonder Women: Breanna Stewart

In honor of the Seattle Storm’s thrilling Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Finals win on Oct. 6, this week’s spotlight is on two-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) Breanna “Stewie” Stewart. The forward brought home the hardware this season after a dominating run against the Las Vegas Aces. One of the most impressive highlights of the championships was Game 1, where Stewart netted 37 points and 15 rebounds for the Seattle Storm. The team won the next two games to sweep the WNBA Finals, with Stewie and her legendary teammate, Sue Bird, taking to the court as a commanding duo.

Based on how Breanna Stewart played this season, one may never have guessed that she was fresh off a ruptured Achilles’ tendon that kept her sidelined for the 2019 WNBA season. After months of rest and rehabilitation, she was eventually cleared to play. Then, when the COVID-19 pandemic postponed all sports, she had to wait even longer to return to the court. Stewie’s hunger for a comeback is not unique –– it’s a narrative that many professional athletes have experienced at some point in their careers. But this was Stewart’s first career-impacting injury since she had started playing professionally in 2016. Her win this year, especially amidst a pandemic, truly speaks to her resiliency as a young athlete.

At the age of 26, Breanna Stewart already boasts an unprecedented resume. She helped lead the University of Connecticuit Huskies to four consecutive NCAA titles while being named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player for each of those championships. Her compelling court leadership led the Seattle Storm to select her as the No. 1 overall draft pick. Shortly after — without even making her WNBA debut — Stewart got called up to the senior national team at age 21 to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics. While some may have doubted the young player, she proved critics wrong when she helped secure a gold medal for Team USA before returning to finish the WNBA season and claim Rookie of the Year. Now, with one Olympic gold medal and two WNBA championships, there’s no telling where Stewart’s career will take her.

What makes the 6-foot-4 forward such a remarkable player to watch is that she never seems to take her foot off the gas. When scoring opportunities appear slim, one can always count on her to create chances. She rebounds with tenacity and shoots 3-pointers with dead accuracy, and it is impossible to miss the satisfying swish every time she hops back and nets a high arc shot. These impressive goals are only rivaled by the excitement of seeing her inside the paint. She’s often caught spinning and popping a quick fadeaway or powering through defenders for a layup that she makes look way too easy. Honestly, watching Breanna Stewart play makes me want to dust off my old kicks from my brief stint on my high school basketball team and hit the court — though my 4-foot-11 frame would probably have to work a lot harder to recreate some of her signature moves.