African women know all too well about the pressures of pursuing careers to please their families. As personal ambitions are sidelined, their dreams are often forgotten and left invalidated. That is why when I hear about the excellence of the Ogwumike sisters, I want to champion their story every chance I get. Where else have you heard of a family’s accomplishments consisting of being Madam President of the WNBA Players Association, a WNBA Championship, a WNBA MVP, Two WNBA Rookie of the Years, Eight WNBA All-Star selection, Four All WNBA Team selections, Four All-Defensive Team selection, 4 Conference Player of the Years, All-Academic Honors (USA Basketball) and not to mention, medical career pursuits; Nneka, Chiney, Olivia, and Erica Ogwumike cement their legacies as the First Family of Basketball. But this is more than a sports story.
As I grow older, I understand the importance of documenting with the true intentions of uplifting women – representation matters and the Ogwumike’s achievements symbolize what is possible for African women when their passions are supported. While both pairs of sisters excelled academically at Stanford University and Rice University, their brilliance on the court took center stage. Nneka and Chiney led the Stanford Cardinals to multiple Pac 12 (then Pac 10) Tournament championships and NCAA Final Four appearances (USA Basketball, official page). Erica and Olivia have a Conference – USA title for the Rice Owls (Rice Owls, official page). In 2016, Nneka Ogwumike recorded a 73.7% true shooting percentage, the greatest true shooting percentage in Basketball history (Just Women’s Sports). Not lost in all this is their excellence off the court. Erica Ogwumike is currently in medical school studying to be a doctor while practicing for the upcoming season as a member of the Minnesota Lynx (Yahoo Sports). Additionally, Chiney Ogwumike is a media personality for ESPN (Essence) and she has her own show, Chiney & Golic Jr. With the family résumé that even the Curry family cannot boast, the Ogwumike’s deserve the recognition they deserve; African women deserve the recognition they deserve.
This is a story about African women achieving unimaginable heights when they are given the opportunities to fulfill their dreams. In the past, we have seen parents ridicule their children for chasing their dreams which did not follow the traditional paths. It goes beyond words of encouragement, but rather being intentional in how we help ambitious Africans with different programs and networks to create real infrastructure for success. The Ogwumike legacy will be about how they empowered African women to dream big and dream bold.
Check out Erica Ogwumike’s family vlog to know more about the Ogwumike sisters.