August 1, 2021
What Stefanie Dolson’s metamorphosis means for the Chicago Sky
Led USA in points and rebounds in gold medal 3x3 performance
Chicago Sky center Stefanie Dolson is a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.
She has undergone a metamorphosis, a personal synergy of purpose, talent, and experience in 2021. She’s at the peak of her powers, and like Sky teammate Candace Parker, lifts those around her.
Consider her journey since last year:
Overcoming COVID-19 (in April 2020) along with the rest of her family.
Becoming a lighter, faster version of herself, through exercise, diet and cutting back on alcohol.
Making a commitment to herself on her 29th birthday (Jan. 8, 2021) to close out her 20s by doing positive things and challenging herself.
As a result, the 6’5, 210-pound center has had the best seven months of her life, averaging 7.9 points per game for the Sky, along with 3.6 rebounds.
Stepping out of her comfort zone, Dolson went to the qualifying women’s 3×3 tournaments and earned her spot on the inaugural Olympic team.
“I’ve played five-on-five my whole life,” Dolson explained. “So it was going to be something new, something different, and that’s exactly what it is, and I ended up just loving it. It’s just a different game, and it’s really fast paced and fun.”
“It means so much to me that they chose me to be a part of this 3×3 team,” she continued. “It’s always an honor to wear the USA jersey, but to be able to do it in a sport that is just now starting to grow and will be in the Olympics for the first time is amazing.”
And love it, she did, as Yoda might say.
The two-time WNBA All-Star center recorded some personal bests in the week-long tournament, averaging the sixth-most points per game (5.7) among all scorers. The former UConn Husky also did former coach Geno Auriemma proud by recording the second-best shooting percentage (69.0%) and was third overall in defensive rebounds per game (3.7) across tournament play.
In the gold medal game against the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Dolson led teammates Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, and Allisha Gray with seven points and nine rebounds, defeating the ROC 18-15 and earning the first gold medal in Olympic 3×3 basketball history at Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo.
Dolson also contributed significantly to Team USA’s first overall ranking in six statistical categories, including points per game (19.1), defensive rebounds (12.2 rpg) and 1-point shooting percentage (62.0%).
Even after seven wins and one loss in the preliminary rounds, Dolson knew the gold medal match against the Russian Olympic Committee wasn’t going to be easy.
“They were really strong,” she recalled. “I mean, we knew going into it that Russia was one of the strongest, physically, teams here. They battled. They doubled. But thankfully, my teammates were able to make a lot of plays. We got them in foul trouble early. But the physicality of 3×3, in general, is just unlike any other game, but it kind of makes it fun.”
After the win, Dolson’s electric smile beamed from deep within her as her teammates and coach exchanged hugs and congratulations as Team USA secured its 11th gold.
“To win this one for my country and for the U.S. is something that I’ve wanted for a long time,” Dolson said. “To be able to accomplish it is really special.”
Her Chicago Sky teammates and coach made sure Dolson knew how special she is to them.
“We were so excited, so we were able to take a break from practice and FaceTimed her,” Chicago Sky head coach and general manager James Wade said. “Everybody just spread their love to her, and we showed her how much she has been on our minds and in our hearts, and how important that winning a gold medal is not only for herself and for her family, but also for us as part of her basketball family.”
Dolson said earlier this year that keeping her busy schedule was a matter of “compartmentalizing. When I’m with the Olympic team, I’m focused on them and what we need to do. When I’m with the Sky, l focus on them.”
Dolson will be taking a moment to enjoy the victory and will return to the Sky for practice. Officially, the Sky will return from its five-week Olympic break on Aug. 15 vs. the Seattle Storm.