June 5, 2023 

Indiana Fever’s Kelsey Mitchell wins Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award

Mitchell is being honored for her work with the KelzHoop foundation and more.

Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell has earned the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award, the WNBA announced.

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The award is given to “a WNBA player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community where they work or live.” Mitchell fits the description perfectly. As the founder of the KelzHoop foundation and a frequent participant in community events, the Fever guard has become a staple of the community in both Indianapolis and her home state of Ohio.

“It just goes to show everything that we’ve been trying to do as a foundation, KelzHoop foudnation, just from a futuristic standpoint. I come from a tough city. So it’s important that we lean on our people and lean on our community,” Mitchell told The Next. “I wanted to be that for the kids. For Dawn Staley to take notice of that, it feels really good because it was really just out of the kindness of our hearts and knowing what kids need nowadays.”

Mitchell’s first event with her foundation was a backpack drive. She remembers passing out school supplies at a summer pool party and how excited the kids were. Right then, she wanted her foundation to be a permanent thing, and she told her mom and her aunt right away. “Mom, we’re gonna do this.”

Now, the KelzHoop foundation hosts community events as well as an annual basketball camp. It’s something that is important to the Indiana Fever guard, who loves working with youth. “The best part about community work is it gets you closer to the kids,” she said. Mitchell wants to be able to understand younger people and changing generations so that she can be a resource for them.

On top of Mitchell’s work with her own foundation, she also received her “Athlete to Advocate” certificate after taking a five-week course with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She also has participated in several community events. Some of those events, per a release (LINK), included Million Meal Marathon, Season of Giving Dinner, the BIG Toy Giveaway, a Jr. NBA event in Louisville, Kentucky, Dick’s Sporting Goods Shop with a Pro, and the Kroger Shoe Giveaway.

“I didn’t expect an award for something like that. I was just doing it for our future generations,” Mitchell said of being honored.

The award is named after Dawn Staley, a former WNBA player and now legendary coach in the basketball world. The leadership award winner will “Reflect Staley’s spirit, leadership, charitable efforts, love for the game and inspirational presence in the community,” per the release.

“I can only be grateful for her,” Mitchell said of Staley.

“Kelsey [Mitchell] exemplifies what it means to have a servant’s heart. She is no stranger to being a community advocate and philanthropist or to this award,” Staley said in a statement. “She is the first player to win the Dawn Staley Award in college and the WNBA and I am proud of the leadership she displays, on and off the court.”

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A committee chose Mitchell as the winner. Because of this honor, the WNBA will donate $10,000 to the KelzHoop foundation. She is the third Indiana Fever player to win the award after Tamika Catchings (twice) and Natalie Achonwa.

“Kelsey’s work with young people and families in her community continues to make an enormous positive influence, and she echoes the example set by Dawn Staley as a role model in sports. Along with her fellow WNBA players, Kelsey is dedicated to making the world a better place for the next generation,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

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Written by Tony East

Indiana Fever reporter based in Indianapolis. Enjoy a good statistical-based argument.

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