The new jocks in town

Women hit the boards as Chicago Sky debuts

There’s a new team in town and it looks nothing like any other professional Chicago sports team. For one thing, its members are all women. For another, it includes two moms.

Chicago Sky, the 14th and newest professional women’s basketball team, launches its season May 9 with a preseason game at the UIC Pavilion. The home opener is May 23.

Sky founder Michael Alter, a Chicago real estate developer, created the team after seeing a WNBA exhibition while attending an NBA all-star game with his kids. He rounded up 20 investors to bring the team to Chicago. Recently Rockford native Michelle Williams, member of the former group Destiny’s Child, also became an investor.

The Sky’s 15 players will be "incredible role models," says Margaret Stender, president and chief executive officer of Chicago Sky. All are college graduates, one is from the Congo, and two, Stacey Lovelace and Jia Perkins, are moms. "Just like you and I are juggling work and families, these ladies do that, too," says Stender, whose kids are 6 and 12.

Like other Chicago area teams without the cache of the Chicago Bulls or Chicago Bears, the WNBA team is marketing itself squarely at families and kids. "There will be lots of cheering, lots of face painting," says Stender.

"It’s such a good family event, even for boys. They can see that women can do it as well," says Chicago Sky player Stacey Lovelace, 31, a Detroit mother of daughter Ryann, 2½. "We’re fun to watch. We’re not like these superstars. Women can relate a little bit more to us."

Kids will be a big part of the show as well, she says. The Sky’s dance troupe will feature 28 8- to 18-year-old kids from the Chicago area. Kids 18 and under will perform the national anthem.

Look for lots of sky blue and yellow (the team colors) and lots of skyscrapers (the team logo). The team wanted an "inspirational theme" to show kids (especially girls) that they could "reach for the sky," says Sky spokeswoman Marla Krause.

Sports theme days include Dads and Daughters Day on June 17 and Youth Leadership Day on June 23.

Weeknight games start at a kid-friendly 7 p.m.; weekend games at 6 p.m. Individual game tickets start at $12; season tickets to all 19 home games start at $190. For more information visit

Karen Springen


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