Week 17: Hitting the Court with the L.A. Sparks

Farai Chideya and L.A. Sparks conditioning coach Bob Dominguez sprint down the hardwood.

Farai Chideya and L.A. Sparks conditioning coach Bob Dominguez sprint down the hardwood. Devin Robins, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Devin Robins, NPR
Next comes the stretching, followed by more sprints. i i

Next comes the stretching, followed by more sprints. Devin Robins, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Devin Robins, NPR
Next comes the stretching, followed by more sprints.

Next comes the stretching, followed by more sprints.

Devin Robins, NPR
Sparks assistant coach Margaret Moore does dribbling drills i i

Sparks assistant coach Margaret Moore does dribbling drills with Chideya and News & Notes executive producer Nicole Childers, left. Devin Robins, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Devin Robins, NPR
Sparks assistant coach Margaret Moore does dribbling drills

Sparks assistant coach Margaret Moore does dribbling drills with Chideya, News & Notes executive producer Nicole Childers, center, and Sparks rookie Lisa Willis at far right.

Devin Robins, NPR

There's nothing like standing out on the empty floor of a major sports arena knowing you have no clue what you're doing.

I was one of those kids who was humiliated on the basketball court. I had no idea how to play, but I was forced in gym class to compete with girls on the basketball team. Two decades later, I'm still just getting over it — just in time to take to the hardwood with the L.A. Sparks WNBA team.

I warmed up with help from Bob Dominguez, the strength and conditioning coach for the Sparks, who made me sprint, stretch and sprint some more. It was a tough drill that got my heart racing.

Sparks assistant coach Margaret Moore worked through some dribbling drills with me and News & Notes executive producer Nicole Childers. Dribbling is to basketball what kicking is to soccer — Moore taught me a controlled dribble and the speed dribble.

My head-to-head match with Lisa Willis, a rookie guard for the Sparks, proved I didn't have mad skills. But at the end of the shootout, everyone was a winner — except my knees, which were killing me.

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