Sebastopol student lands dream summer internship with WNBA’s Atlanta Dream

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

A local teen is full of ambition and dreams and she is walking-the-walk to make those dreams come true.

At this point of the school year most high school students are counting down the days to the freedom of summer. For Krystal White, a Sebastopol High School junior, the end of the school year is the beginning of an exciting summer internship with the Atlanta Dream of the Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA). 

White completed an internship with the Atlanta team in the summer of 2017 and will return to complete a second year of the internship on May 26.

After spending a short period of time with the star basketball player it is abundantly clear she is highly motivated and inner-driven to succeed in all facets of life. She’s an honor roll student in the classroom and an MVP on the basketball court for the Bobcats. Neither her successes nor getting the coveted WNBA internship surprises Sebastopol High School Principal, Caleb Smith. “Krystal is a natural leader and scholar athlete that pushes herself academically,” Smith said, “Krystal is an advocate for herself and her future”. 

Smith believes White has an extremely bright future and that she will have earned every success she enjoys.  “She told me what she wants to do, and after 15 minutes of listening to her explain her plan I was sold,” Smith said.

White grew up dreaming of playing in the WNBA as a professional basketball player, but two severe knee injuries caused her to reevaluate her future dreams. Although she decided a professional basketball career was not likely, her deep love of basketball and sports drove her to find and focus on sports broadcasting.

White, who watches a lot of basketball on television, saw sideline reporters and a new idea formed in her mind. “I saw sideline reporters talking to the players and talking about the game and I wanted to do that,” she recalls, “that is when I started writing my own blog and practicing my writing, there’s a lot of people my age not even thinking about that so I wanted to be one step ahead”. 

White’s uncle, Jan Daguiar, lives in Atlanta and attended an Atlanta Dream basketball camp and “he saw girls my age helping out with the team,” she said, “he asked around and found out about the internships and that is how it got started”.

White knew the internship could be a stepping stone for her future so, with the help of her uncle, she worked hard and completed all necessary steps which led to her being selected for the coveted internship. 

“I owe a lot to my Uncle Jan” White said, “he helped me get the internship and him and my aunt do so much for me while I am in Atlanta.”  She is extremely thankful for her Uncle Jan’s help, but it is White that has taken this opportunity and started creating a path, and foundation, for her future.

Sebastopol High School girls basketball coach, Cassy Madden, said that White “walks-the-walk” both on and off the basketball court.  “Krystal is a top-notch leader and does a great job mentoring younger players,” Coach Madden said, “she is a great role model and works just as hard in the classroom, she wants to excel in all areas of life.”

The internship job duties vary each day.  On some occasions, it puts Krystal in situations she will never forget.  “When the Los Angeles Sparks came to Atlanta I was rebounding for the team and then I realized I was passing to Candace Parker,” the teen said. White still gets excited just talking about it and goes on to say, “I could not believe I was rebounding balls for the future hall of famer and most popular player in the WNBA“. 

White said that she is always surprised by the people she sees in the crowd, “one of my favorite things is sitting courtside and seeing who is in the crowd, I am seeing people I usually see on television and seeing them face-to-face,” which can be seen in a photograph she had of herself and NBA superstar Dwight Howard. 

White does not travel with the Dream to the away games, so she has found other opportunities to participate in during these times.  Over the summer she will attend VOX ATL Journalism Camp which promotes teens in journalism and a week-long broadcasting program at Turner Broadcasting.  Also, she will be visiting and participating in numerous programs at CNN, NBA TV and TNT. 

For most anyone this would be an extremely full schedule, but the soon-to-be high school senior says she loves every minute.  “I am creating great friendships and contacts and connections with people in journalism and broadcasting and the Atlanta area,” White said.  She plans to attend Georgia State University in Atlanta after graduating.

Amanda Patrick-James, White’s mother, is very proud of her daughter and is there every step-of-the-way supporting her daughter and reminding her to stay grounded and keep working hard.  Her mother says, “We talk every other day” when she is gone, and “I miss her but I love the fact that she is able to go out and explore to work towards her future.”  Patrick-James always reminds her daughter that, “the most important thing is to remain humble and grounded” and she believes her daughter has done just that while continuing to work hard to realize her dreams.

During the interview this reporter got a glimpse of what Principal Smith and Coach Madden had told him about this young lady.  Not only does she get “It”, whatever “It” is, but she is willing to put in the time, effort and work required to attain her dreams and goals. 

There is something special about White and as Coach Madden eluded to something that to some extent explains it.  Madden said, “she is our leading scorer, but it is more than that, the girls just feel more comfortable when she in on the floor.”

White’s dreams and aspires to be a sideline reporter for ESPN in the future.  After meeting her, and those who know her well, most people feel pretty safe in predicting: if that is what she says she is going to do, she will do it. 

In the not so distant future watch for White on the sideline with a microphone in hand, the letters on the mic will read “ESPN”, and when she does her report she will make everyone that knows her very proud.