The Minnesota Lynx have continued to be involved in the Twin Cities community and beyond, both in-season and during the offseason. On Monday, they continued that tradition by adding five honorary members to one-day contracts.
The Lynx announced they signed five members to their roster for the day to make up their Minnesota Jr. Lynx Dream Team, a program in partnership with Slumberland Furniture where five area youth with unique and inspiring stories are nominated by their Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities mentors to be paired up with a Lynx player who will serve as a mentor throughout the season.
The 2021 Dream Team is the fifth team assembled by Minnesota, dating back to 2016. (There was no Dream Team in 2020 due to COVID restrictions.)
On Monday morning, Timberwolves and Lynx executive vice president of social responsibility Jen Ridgeway and head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve led a virtual press conference to welcome the five Dream Team members. Aniya (13) from Minneapolis, Asia (9) from Minneapolis, JaZarria (13) from Blaine, Kaia (10) from Dayton, and Sumaya (10) from Minneapolis were introduced before signing their honorary contracts, making them members of the Lynx for the day.
“We are very excited to welcome all five individuals into our Lynx family by signing them to honorary one-day contracts,” Ridgeway said. “We are so honored to have them join our team and spend time with our players and coaches today.”
In previous years, the Dream Team members and their families would have the opportunity to join the Lynx during a practice and spend the day with their player-mentor and the team as a whole while also being recognized during a game in the season. This year the Dream Team will have the opportunity to virtually watch an upcoming practice and participate in mentorship opportunities throughout the season.
Even if the 2021 Dream Team signing day didn’t end up being what it once was for health-and-safety precautions, this event is still one of the best things Minnesota does throughout the year and is something Lynx players and coaches truly enjoy.
“This is always such a special day for us,” Reeve said on Monday. “On behalf of our coaches and players, I want to personally welcome all of you to our team. … It’s so much more than basketball, what we do. It’s very important that our players can be role models to young people. That makes us very proud.”
Personal Dream Team Experience
I was able to get a firsthand look into the annual initiative when I worked for the Timberwolves and Lynx from 2016-17.
When I was part of the organization, notably during the 2017 WNBA season — which ended up being a pretty good year for the Lynx, it turns out — the Dream Team program was in its second year. Minnesota’s starting five of Sylvia Fowles, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, and Lindsay Whalen served as the five player-mentors for the five signees.
One thing in particular that stood out to me about that day, April 30, 2017, was just how much Reeve and her players included Dream Team players and their families. The day started with the five players’ families arriving at The Courts at Mayo Clinic Square, which houses the front office and practice courts for both the Timberwolves and Lynx. Those players were then introduced to media as the newest members of the Lynx during a press conference, signing their one-day contracts.
After signing their contracts and receiving their jerseys, the five Dream Team members then made their way to the practice court, where Minnesota’s players were waiting to welcome their newest teammates. The five signees were paired up with their player-mentors, going off to run drills with the team while their families watched courtside. After that, players were part of the end-of-practice breakdown led by Reeve, later spending time with the team during lunch in the players’ lounge.
Even after the day concluded, Minnesota still recognized those five Dream Team members throughout the 2017 season. Each player-mentor kept in touch with the five area youth, and the organization later honored them on the court before a game. Seeing both the signees and their families not only enjoy that day, but to truly be a part of the team while continuing to be recognized throughout the year, is something that is incredibly fun to be a part of.
The Lynx do some great things on the court — also on an annual basis. But they also do some remarkable things off the court too, and the Dream Team program is among the best of them.