WNBA ratings have continued to be on the rise in the league’s 25th season, and this rise in viewership is long overdue. The talent, entertainment, and all-stars have always been there, and it’s about time they put everyone on notice.
I had the incredible opportunity of being able to sit down and chat with Erica McCall, forward for the Washington Mystics. Growing up with a background in basketball, Erica has propelled herself into the WNBA. We got the chance to talk about her background, her career, and the growth we’re seeing in women’s sports across all leagues.
Video Interview and transcript below!
Emily: Alright so why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Erica: Alright. I’m Erica McCall. I’m born and raised in Bakersfield, California. I went to Stanford University, graduated from there 2017. After that, I got drafted to the Indiana Fever where I played for three years. And now I’m currently with the Washington Mystics. So enjoying my time, just got here in DC, probably about six weeks ago. So it’s been a short time but so far so good, I’ve been enjoying myself.
Emily: So kind of a question we always ask everyone is what inspired them to get involved in the particular field or sport that they’re in. So what inspired you to get into basketball and really pursue it professionally?
Erica: Right so what really inspired me, I guess, I just come from a big basketball family. My dad was a basketball coach, a women’s basketball coach. My sister DeWanna Bonner, who also played in the league, just you know, was big on basketball. And so I just kind of naturally got into it. And then like me playing it more, I just really fell in love with the sport. I mean, I just love the competitive nature and the team aspect of it, and it’s just a fast-paced game. And so with all of those factors combined, really, I just fell in love when I was like nine years old. And since then it’s just been a passion of mine to make it to the league, and here I am now. And then of course my sister was a big reason why I wanted to play in the WNBA. I mean, she got drafted back in 2009, and ever since then it has been a dream of mine to be just like her, make it to the league, and be successful in basketball. So we’re exactly eight years apart, and every day she still inspires me to be better. And so I have a brother that plays basketball, two brothers that play basketball and we have a baby sister, who’s six years old who’s getting into basketball now. So we’re all excited about that.
Emily: Oh wow. I don’t play sports, I’m not athletic. But me and my brother are eight years apart. And that’s kind of the reason I’ve gotten into sports just from watching him and watching sports with him. So a little bit, but not close to the same. So what does a typical game day look like for you, home or away?
Erica: Yeah so I’ll walk you through a home game routine. Usually, if the game is at like 7 or later we’ll have a shoot around at around 10 o’clock in the morning, I’ll go to that. We’ll get a few shots up, go over the plays we wanna go over. And then afterward I’ll get something to eat for lunch, and then rest up and take a nap. I’ll figure out what I want to wear for the game because that’s big now in the WNBA. You know, league fits now you gotta really show up and show out. That takes a little while. And then I’ll head to the gym around 4:30. And from there I get treatment, I have shots up on the court. And we have a chapel which I love. It’s the time for both teams to come together and just praise God together for like 10-15 minutes. And then coach comes in and talks and then it’s game time, we play, and then hopefully you get a win.
Emily: What’s been, you know, one of your favorite moments of your career so far, on the court or off the court?
Erica: Great question. I guess probably one of my favorite moments, was my first time playing against my sister. Back when I think I was still with Indiana, yeah my third year. And yeah, it was just a dream come true. Something I’ve always dreamed of. Because we have never until this year had even like, played each other one-on-one, like just never been in the basketball like atmosphere together. Because she grew up in Alabama, I grew up in California, and we just never really had that time to be able to do that. So it was a really special moment for me and my sister and my dad, our whole family. So that’s something that I’ll always remember in my career.
Emily: That’s a good one. So obviously before we do interviews, we like to look around and kind of do a little snooping on social media. I couldn’t help but bring up your musical talents that you have going on. Where did that start, where did that all come from?
Erica: Yeah I’ve always loved to entertain people since I’ve been a kid. I just love making people laugh, singing, and dance. I know I’m not the best at it, but I just love the whole entertainment aspect of it. So, when I was a kid me, my brother, and my cousin, we had our own little group called the Jesus Stars, and we’d perform in front of our family. And so from there like, I’ve just taken that on. I mean, I haven’t done anything professionally with it, just with my teammates in college and when I got to the league. I had the opportunity to perform with Carrie Underwood two years ago. So in that aspect, that’s kind of my most professional experience with it. And so I’ve always enjoyed it and so hopefully when ball is all said and done, I’ll have more opportunities to pursue that side of my passion.
Emily: Alright so another question we really like to ask is what advice you would give to any, you know, young girls or young women who are in basketball and who want to pursue and are just feeling a little discouraged and need some kind of motivation and who look to people like you for that motivation?
Erica: I will say to never lose the fun in basketball. I tell myself that sometimes, I mean, basketball, I have to remember that basketball is a game. It’s meant to be fun, and you’re playing with a group of people that you enjoy playing with, and sometimes we just take the sport too seriously. We get down on ourselves and we get discouraged. But we have to remember that this is a game that is supposed to be fun and we’re supposed to enjoy it. And so when you have those moments really just let loose, remember why you first wanted to play the sport. And from there, I’m telling you, basketball will just be so much more entertaining, so much more fun, you can enjoy it more, you’re relaxed and you probably play some of your best basketball.
Emily: Yeah I like that. So another thing we like to ask because we’re super nosy is obviously the pandemic is still going on, it’s still a thing that hasn’t gone away yet. But what is something that … off the court you do in your spare time, things that you’re kind of enjoying right now. Like right now for me to keep myself entertained I’ve been doing a lot of cooking, trying new recipes, things like that. So what are some things you’ve tried recently?
Erica: I’ve done a lot more cooking mainly because overseas, I have to cook, we don’t really have like delivery services. And the language barrier is tough. So I’ve just enjoyed more cooking. But outside of that let me think what I’ve been doing more of. A lot more journaling, that’s something I’ve been getting into, just trying to write down my emotions and not keep them all held up. Especially with a pandemic these days, when just everyone was inside the house and we had nowhere to go, we had nothing to do to express ourselves or get our anger or emotions out or anything. So I’ve been doing a lot of journaling and just trying to keep that going. I think one day, I want to write a book. So I’m hoping with me consistently being able to journal and write down my emotions, that’ll help me come up with some creativity and a book one day.
Emily: I’ve been trying to journal too it’s just, I get so busy during the day that it can kind of slip my mind but it has definitely helped. So is there anything in particular that you’re like watching or listening to, that you’ve kind of been focused in on lately?
Erica: I’m big on podcasts, there’s this podcast that I love called ‘The Read’ and it gives a mix of pretty much everything from entertainment to mental health conversations, just everyday life things. People can write in questions and it’s about relationships or health or just anything really. And so that’s one podcast that I love listening to that just really allows me to let go of things, listen to and enjoy. You know, what others have to say, what’s going on in celebrity life, and that’s also helped with like kind of my creativity of what I want to do because one day I want to start my own podcast. We’re actually working on starting that up soon. And so just listening to other podcasts just helps me in my creative space and think of things that I liked from theirs and maybe something I can tweak or something.
Emily: Alright so I can’t help but notice your shirt, I had to bring it up. So there’s like, I don’t know, I have a very active Twitter presence. That’s kind of where I focus in on and I see this giant movement, this wave of people who were like really pushing that, like putting women’s sports on TV. You know there’s like statistics that support it [viewership] and things like that. So how do you feel about this like new wave of women’s sports fans and these people pursuing and encouraging and trying to do everything in their power to get it [women’s sports] on TV?
Erica: Right, I’m all for it. I mean I think it’s an overdue conversation that was supposed to happen years ago. But finally, people are getting on board with it. People are starting to really recognize and appreciate women’s sports and seeing how much value it brings to sports, to young girls, you know, to this generation, and so I’m all for it. I mean me, myself, I’m starting to, I’m trying to get into women’s sports more like outside of basketball. Like women’s soccer, and softball and so I’m just kind of watching it, and just seeing how big of a sport that is. I didn’t think I ever recognized how big of a sport it is and how much it’s praised. I think it absolutely deserves to be on TV. I think like the championship though, came on like Thursday at 3 PM. Like … no one’s gonna be able to watch that. And so just little things like that, and people really starting to recognize that if you put women’s sports on TV people will watch and so we deserve those primetime spots. You know sometimes they just, not to disrespect or anything like that, but sometimes they’re doing like the most random of TV shows, like the shopping TV shows on like a primetime slot when we can be represented in that time. So I’m all for that big push and hopefully, as time goes on, more women’s sports will be on TV.
Emily: I saw that the World Series is on at 3 o’clock, it was just like, there’s so many other time slots. And like, this has nothing to do with TV, more like a social media presence. I don’t know if you saw it, but there’s this picture going around of how Sports Center posted like 17 different things about the Logan Paul fight, but they posted nothing about Simone Biles. Absolutely absurd. And these are the networks we’re supposed to look to for this kind of news and this kind of content. So like, what do you think about, you know, what do you think is the issue behind that? Do you think it’s more of the audience of people who are looking at Sports Center or the people who are running it or both? What’s your take on that?
Erica: I think it would be a mix of both. But honestly, you know, the networks go off of like what people want. They see the interaction of Twitter and like, and what’s going on, everyone’s talking about the Logan Paul and Mayweather fight. So of course, you know, they’re going to post all about that, because that’s what they can monetize. But I think if they would also put women’s sports on TV, they would see that it will also monetize there’s some fans out there from that sport and other people that would enjoy watching it. I mean Simone Biles is an incredible athlete. I think many people appreciate her. But I think just because there are certain networks and media sites that don’t post her people don’t get to truly recognize and appreciate what she does. So I think it’s a bit of a mix of both. I think if the network’s put it on there people would appreciate it more. And then from there, there’s more interaction, and then they will get more money from it, and so it’s all one big cycle. So hopefully, the network’s can recognize that women need to be appreciated more.
Emily: Yeah I just don’t know if they understand the full scale of how big the audience is. Like, when the season started I saw so many people giving away WNBA league pass. We gave away one, I saw so many. And there is a need for them, the attention that they got was insane. I think more attention needs to be paid to how big these audiences really are. And there’s been times at night where I’ve just been watching a game and it’s like a blowout. No one wants to watch it. It’s just like not entertaining. But there’s like a great WNBA game on or an NWSL game or the NWHL and I’m just ranting.
Erica: I see the passion, I see the passion.
Emily: I don’t understand how people don’t see the need for this type of audience. Alright well, I’m going to stop ranting. Thank you so much for your time, it’s been really great to talk to you and get to know you. Thank you, good luck on the rest of your season, congrats on the win last night.
Erica: Thank you to your boyfriend … reaching out and everything. Yeah, thank you to him for connecting us.
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