Rebekah Gardner: A household name in the making

Rebekah Gardner’s hard work came to fruition on August 25, after she was named to the 2022 WNBA All-Rookie Team.

From fifth in rookie scoring to second in rookie steals, the Chicago Sky guard has proven itself in the league throughout the regular season.

Gardner said it was self-confidence that ultimately allowed her to contribute so much to Sky.

“The team is already great, so I’m really looking to provide the spark and an extra boost when I substitute,” Gardner said. “[My confidence] comes from knowing what I can contribute, knowing what I can do and doing it well.

But his first year in the WNBA was not easy.

The Chicago Sky guard joined the league after a decade of overseas experience. After being drafted in the 2012 WNBA Draft, Gardner built her professional basketball career in Spain, Israel, Turkey and Romania – until Chicago Sky head coach James Wade, gives him the opportunity to compete in the United States.

The championship-winning team previously had seven free agents this offseason and no draft picks for the coming year, so Wade said he “travelled the universe” only to find Gardner would be someone. which would benefit the roster and compliment the base players who were already in Heaven.

“She came in and did something that I don’t think any other rookie has ever done,” Wade said. “She arrived after 10 years of never playing in the league, playing as a vet and being a valuable piece for a No. 1 team.”

Gardner put up big numbers in his first year in the WNBA, averaging 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 21.7 minutes of playing time per game during the regular season. She recently had a career-high four steals and three blocks against the New York Liberty and recorded a career-high double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds early last month in Los Angeles.

“She hit us a lot offensively with her ability to move off the ball, her ability to play for her teammates and her ability to knock down shots, while impacting the ball defensively,” Wade said.

But without his love for basketball, his dream of playing in the league might not have come true.

“My passion for the game kept me going,” Gardner said. “There were times when I didn’t think I was going to make it to the WNBA, but because I love the game so much, I’ve set myself other goals overseas, and by setting those goals, that helped me achieve [the WNBA].”

Her passion and drive to succeed was evident when she made her first WNBA appearance in May. After being alongside State for just four days and only taking part in two training sessions with the Sky, Gardner logged double-digit numbers for the Sky and made the starting lineup on his debut against the New York Liberty.

“From the first game we saw that it was not a lucky performance [for Rebekah]that’s who she is,” Wade said.

Gardner’s journey has been anything but ordinary and she hopes he will inspire others to pursue their aspirations.

“When I play there, it’s not just for me, but it’s to help people who were in the same situation as me,” Gardner said. “[My journey] is a reminder to stay prepared, because you never know who’s watching.

As the 2022 WNBA season draws to a close, Wade is eager to see what the future holds for Gardner’s career in the league and how it can impact others along the way.

“I’m thrilled that she’s going to be a household name,” Wade said. “If someone is discouraged about not making the league, and not making the league again, and not making the league again, she’s their measuring stick, she gives them hope.”

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