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Last week’s Weekly:
UConn still keeping up with Evina Westbrook
Three months ago, Evina Westbrook was a member of the UConn women’s basketball team. Now, she’s on her third WNBA organization after the Seattle Storm drafted her, the Minnesota Lynx picked her up after cutdowns and the Washington Mystics added her on a short-term contract after the Lynx waived her.
Throughout Westbrook’s tumultuous first few months as a professional, her former teammates have supported her wherever she’s been. In June, the team traveled to Brooklyn to see Westbrook take on the New York Liberty while she was still a member of the Lynx, and on Sunday they made the short trip to Mohegan Sun to see her take on the Connecticut Sun with the Mystics.
The visit after the Sun game was relatively straightforward since the Huskies only had to travel a relatively short distance. Going to Brooklyn was more complicated — especially after the team decided to make it a surprise.
“Once we had that idea (to see her play in New York), it was kind of like, ‘Okay, where are we gonna stay? When are we gonna go?’ And we wanted to make sure she doesn’t know it. So we didn’t say anything to her,” Dorka Juhász explained in June.
The game was scheduled for Sunday, June 4, so the team planned on visiting with her on Saturday night. They got in touch with an unnamed Lynx player who helped organize the meet-up by providing information about the hotel and Westbrook’s room number.
“We were like FBI agents,” Juhász said. “We found out everything: Where to go, how [to get up] to her room, what room she’s in.”
All that didn’t go down until later on Saturday, though. Until then, the Huskies spent the day in the city and needed to keep a low profile so they wouldn’t tip Westbrook off.
“We didn’t post anything on social media,” Caroline Ducharme said in June. “We were trying to be very secretive because we were there all day before we saw her.”
Once it came time to see Westbrook, a member of the Lynx organization let the Huskies into the hotel and they made their way up to her room. They let the secret last just a little longer, too.
“We were like knocking on her door and I remember Amari put her finger in [the peep hole] so she couldn’t see,” Juhász said.
The trick worked. Westbrook had no idea what was coming.
“She was in shock. She was like, ‘Are you guys here?’” Juhász said. “The first couple of minutes we were in there she didn’t say anything. She was like, ‘I can’t believe you guys are here.’”
While UConn has put the most effort into seeing Westbrook play live, that’s mostly a product of how the schedule worked out. Olivia Nelson-Ododa and the Los Angeles Sparks didn’t come to either Connecticut or New York during the team’s summer session while Christyn Williams is out for the year with a knee injury and isn’t traveling with the Mystics. The Huskies also went to Mohegan Sun to watch Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Gabby Williams, and the Seattle Storm play in June the day after Bird announced her impending retirement.
Even when they can’t make it in person, the team still finds a way to tune in one way or another.
“I usually only watch the games where my former UConn players play, especially my girls Evina, Christyn, and Liv,” Nika Mühl said. “We’ve been watching all their games.”
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