Since helping her hometown Chicago Sky capture their first WNBA title last month, Candace Parker hasn’t had much of a chance to bask and reflect on one of the most remarkable runs in league history.
As a working mother, Parker had to make sure her daughter Lailaa was back home in LA for school a day after the series clinching victory of the Phoenix Mercury. The Sky’s parade was two days after and Parker had to begin preparation for her studio analyst duties at Turner Sports across NBA on TNT and NBA TV.
On Wednesday, Parker virtually surprised the Whitney Young Boy’s and Girl’s Basketball teams to give them insight into Gatorade’s newest technology – the Gx Sweat Patch and App. The one-time use patch is a first-to-market wearable that determines the athletes’ unique “sweat profile” to help provide them insight on their personalized hydration stages. Once the workout is complete, the patch can be scanned into the app to provide the athlete their results, along with science-backed insights and recommendations from Gatorade Sports Science Institute that are customized to the athlete.
“I think it’s really cool to have access to what the pros have been using for years,” Parker said. “I told them, I would take advantage of this if I were in your shoes. If I had the technology that you all have now, I would take advantage of everything I could to gain a competitive advantage.”
Parker has been with Gatorade since her professional career begin in 2008 and is also a founding member of the Gatorade Women’s Advisory Board, which was created to address societal and cultural barriers that contribute to the ongoing decline of female participation in sports. The six-time All-Star and two-time MVP says she enjoys being busy and will use the downtime the holidays provide to get a chance to catch her breath.
I spoke with Parker about her relationship with Gatorade, how hectic the last month has been for her and her message to the next generation of athletes.
You’ve been with Gatorade since 2008. Aside from the business partnership, how has the relationship grown over the course of your career?
CP: I think relationships, intention and purpose are huge for me. With Gatorade – even with what they’re doing now with the Gx Sweat Patch – giving access to something that pros have had for years that now anybody can have. Someone that’s training for a marathon and that’s their goal. Someone that just wants to get in better shape and knows how, I’m all about that. It’s really been cool to see just through technology, how you can better sports, and through access. I’m a big purpose person and if you’re able to find your purpose, and that matches, then I think it’s going to be a solid relationship, and it has.
Have you gotten the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what you and your teammates accomplished for your hometown?
Not really, honestly. I don’t know if it will hit me until even after I’m done playing or into the offseason when you’re working out again. It’s special though. I think this time around I took time at each stage and enjoyed it and really closed my eyes and took in the moment. But I love it being a whirlwind. I love being busy. Sometimes, I’ll complain to my family and they’re like, I’ll give you two days of sitting still and you’re going to be bored and doing something. I’m grateful and I think I’m going to have a second during Thanksgiving weekend, and the holidays, to be able to take a breath and not have to travel or anything like that for work. I’m excited about that moment and I think at that time, I’ll kind of reflect.
The love? I didn’t expect it. I knew there would be love but when I showed up to work and they had a parade at Turner…. I came home from Chicago back to LA and my friends threw me a surprise championship party. I’m so grateful for the people in my life. I just honestly almost get emotional with that because it’s so special. They’ve been there, seen the tears, seen how hard it is. For them to show that amount of love, it was overwhelming, honestly. My daughter coming home and just telling me how many people are like, “Hey, tell your mom congrats.” Going back to Knoxville and the same thing. It’s just been very special, and I’ve really taken that in.
With this next generation of athletes having far greater resources and opportunities available to them, what is the message you try and get through to them?
What’s great is I think professional athletes are in a unique situation, at least, if they remember themselves in that position, and I’m fortunate enough to have a 12-year-old daughter. I hear the things she says, and I remember the way I was thinking. I just [tell] them that it is a skill to know what you don’t know. Right now, you have the resources to figure those things out as long as you’re ok admitting that you don’t know something. I think a lot of athletes and people are so ashamed of not knowing something when it honestly ends up turning out to be a skill. I know so many adults that are so quick to be like, I don’t know that. Let me find a person who does or let me do some research as opposed to I know.
I literally get on my daughter all the time because she says I know to something she doesn’t know. I go crazy because that’s almost worse than saying I can’t in this house. It is a skill to know what you don’t know. Now, you have all these people, all of this access. You don’t know how you need to hydrate, and you now have the capability to do that. You have the capability to go on YouTube and see who the best seventh grader is to compare your game to them. You have access to so much. Use it and be ok with not knowing everything.