Do you play basketball?
Now as ladies of height we are all often mistaken for basketball players while in reality only a select few of us posses the talent and drive to pursue a career as an athlete.
I have personally always wondered what life would be like as a professional athlete, even though it was quite clear early on that this was not in the cards for me.
As faith would have it Chiney, Nneka and myself connected on social media and I was able to take a peek through their eyes. What I witnessed was two incredibly strong and ambitious woman with a beautiful sisterly bond. Honestly can I be adopted into the Ogwumike family please?
I am absolutely thrilled to share the stories of this talented Tall Sister duo, so without further ado, let’s meet our tall sisters!
What is your full name?
Chinenye “Chiney” Ogwumike & Nnemkadi “Nneka” Chinwe Victoria Ogwumike
How tall are you?
6’3 & 6’1
What is your current occupation?
Chiney; Professional Athlete, WNBA Player for the Connecticut Sun, TV Personality
Nneka; Professional Athlete, WNBA Player for the Los Angeles Sparks & Power Forward for Dynamo Kurks of Russia
Please share your journey of how your height has influenced your career. How did you get to where you are today?
Chiney: Being 6’3’’ in the basketball world is a blessing. It is the perfect height in my eyes because with this height, you can practically play all positions.
Nneka: Initially, I’d always considered my height as a vertical challenge, but once I dabbled in sports I realized my natural advantage. It wasn’t until after I grew ‘a bit too tall’ for gymnastics that I found my niche in volleyball and basketball. But after honing my skills, I found a true passion in basketball. Despite my now somewhat average height as a basketball player, I’ve learned to utilize a combination of my stature and athleticism to compete at the highest professional and international level.
LOS ANGELES, CA – March 11, 2011: Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike (l) and Nnemkadi Ogwumike enjoy late game action during the semi-final game of the 2011 Pac-10 Tournament game against the Arizona Wildcats at Staples Center. Stanford won, 100-71. The Ogwumike sisters combined for 53 points and 23 rebounds.
Have you ever struggled accepting your height?
Chiney: I used to hate my height growing up. It didn’t allow me to fit in. I remember being in middle school and one of the “tests” of cool clothes was to have your jeans hit the floor when you sat in your seat. Of course, at that time, all that I owned were my big sis’ hand-me-downs which were definitely high-waters; aka my jeans never hit the floor. I would also sit on books so that my feet would swing under my desk, like the other kids. Eventually I realized I wasn’t born to fit in, I was born to stand out! My height became my strength. It opened doors and created opportunities for me. My height found a home in sports, which changed the trajectory of my life. (And by the way, the best thing that happened to tall girl fashion were skinny jeans. No more pant phobia. Lol)
Nneka: Accepting my height was never a real issue. I’ve always been head and shoulders above others and never really felt uncomfortable, but also didn’t always own up to it. As I grew into the woman I am today, I developed a gradual appreciation for my height and myself.
Do you have any advise for our fellow Tall Sisters?
Chiney: My advice to my fellow Tall Sisters would be to embrace everything that makes you, you! I am Nigerian-American. I am a professional athlete. I am a Stanford graduate. And I am a confident tall sister! I am where I am today because I chose to embrace everything that made me, me. Confidence is contagious.
Nneka: Don’t EVER say you can’t wear heels! Period.
Chiney Ogwumike poses with her sister Nneka Ogwumike during the 2014 WNBA Draft (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Please give us a glimpse of what life is like as a WNBA player. What does a typical day look like for you?
9AM = Wake Up
10AM-11AM = Stretch, Treatment, Weights & Conditioning
11AM-1PM = Practice
1PM-2PM = Post-Practice Treatment
7PM-10PM = Game
You have a decent amount of free time if it is not a game day, so you find hobbies! Mine happens to be reading, following sports in anticipation of any possible TV appearances, studying for graduate school, and television. (My favorite show right now is a tie between How to Get Away with Murder and Homeland!)
Nneka: It can be hectic, yet exhilarating. When we’re not practicing, we’re playing; and when we’re not playing, we’re practicing. Then sprinkle a few off days and you’ve got the recipe for a WNBA summer. LOL! It’s fun but also an incredibly demanding profession that allows lots of travel, lots of games, and, most rewardingly, myriads of experiences and new people.
Nneka Ogwumike #30 Los Angeles Sparks
Where do you draw your motivation from?
Chiney: I come from a very focused and driven family. My older sister who blazed the trail for me has always been my role model. But what truly motivates me is an inner drive to defy expectations. Use my height for “higher purposes” both on and off the court.
Nneka: All of my motivation comes from my family. My sisters, parents, and I push each other with tons of support. We all play and we all know what we can achieve and stick together to help each other be the best athletes, students, and professionals we can be.
In a perfect world, where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Chiney: I would like to be preparing for my first Olympic games and not only covering sports on TV but also becoming an established TV personality that uses her platform to affect positive change. But more importantly, I would like to have an established foundation that demonstrates how sports can educate, empower and transform the lives of youth all around the world!
Nneka: Married, starting my own family, and running my own business with Chiney!
Thank you Chiney and Nneka for sharing your light with us, you make us all so proud!