YSBnow’s Kristine caught the inspiring basketball superstar at her first-ever book tour stop.
When I was in 5th grade, I excitedly joined my town’s intramural basketball team. I was the shortest girl in the entire league, wore the tiniest jersey that still looked gigantic on me, and had to learn how to seriously JUMP to block any other competitor coming my way. I for sure was not naturally talented at basketball, but I just loved playing the game — and to this day I still value the weekend games that my parents and grandpa would come see me play in. I stuck with basketball all through middle school into high school, when something truly remarkable happened: I GREW. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I grew almost 7 inches. Eventually, I’d have another mini growth spurt, and wind up being my current height, 5’9″.
Suddenly, I went from the smallest kid on my team to the one of the tallest students in my entire all-girls school. It was very weird, but being newly tall didn’t magically mean I was instantly amazing at basketball. Sure, it helped. But I almost had to re-learn how to play, now that it felt like I was all limbs and zero coordination.
I’m telling you my awkward, slightly embarrassing story because I just heard WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist Elena Delle Donne tell us hers in the most epic and motivational way possible. The athlete has just released her first two books: a young adult memoir titled “My Shot,” and the first in a fictional 3-book series for middle school age readers called “Hoops: Elle of the Ball.” And yesterday, I got to meet her on the first stop of her book signing tour, at the lovely Books and Greetings store in Northvale, New Jersey.
Whether you are reading her real-life autobiography or her fictional series, taking in these tales will give you a new perspective on the athlete’s own life and career. When Elena was in middle school, she was already 6 feet tall — and she felt like she stuck out among her classmates. Especially since she was taller than all the boys. Now, she stands proudly at 6’5″ and is one of the fiercest female competitors in her sport, using every inch of her height to her advantage. To see how far she has come is so powerful. And she wrote books specifically for young readers because she wants the new generation of players to grow up way more confident in their unique skills and the qualities that make them special.
At her book signing, Elena told fans that if she weren’t a pro basketball player, she would be a teacher. She would be perfect at it too, since she had tons of motivational words to share with each of the guests who stopped by to meet her. I especially loved seeing little girls in their own school basketball uniforms (just like my old one!!), holding their own basketballs for Elena to sign. And high school coaches who wanted to pick up some inspiration to share with their teams. It shows just how far a good story can spread!
Both of Elena’s books officially release on March 13, but keep an eye out on her socials to see if her book tour is stopping by your area! If you’re a fan, you’ll LOVE meeting her too.
Written by Kristine Hope Kowalski