009-Monique Billings

WNBA Player with Atlanta Dream


Feature No. 9 | April 27th, 2020

 

What was your first basketball memory and how have your parents played a role in your career?

My first basketball memory was playing in my neighbors backyard with all of the local boys from around the neighborhood. I was maybe 7 years old, and I was super fast and athletic. I was actually a lot better than most of the guys, and when I would do something well on the court, in my head I would imagine a crowd cheering, being on the front page of newspapers, and having a highlight reel like Jordan or my favorite player Hakeem Olajuwon. 

My dad had gotten me into basketball when I was about 5 or so. One day he asked if I wanted to play on a team with some of the other kids in my neighborhood, and with this proposal, he added that I wouldn’t be able to wear my favorite flower dress in my game. Having to trade the dress in for a pair of basketball shorts instead, my first thought was ‘HECK NO!,’ but I wanted to make my dad proud, so I tried it out and ended up loving it and never looking back.

 

What were some highlights from your experience at UCLA and how did it get you ready for the WNBA?

The highlights I remember the most were breaking records. I broke the rebounding record my junior year as well as the blocked shots record and a few more. I was competing against myself trying to create a legacy. 

I prepared for the WNBA by working with my trainer Olin Simplis almost every day after my practices with UCLA. I was doing two-a-days and was very focused on a clear vision in my head of where I wanted to go, and the work I needed to put in to get there.

 

Talk about your time playing overseas, what were some highs and lows.

Playing overseas has its ups and downs for sure. The positives are that I am able to make great money in a short amount of time. I am learning new cultures, languages, trying new foods, and traveling and seeing the world on someone else's dime. The low point that is most relevant is sacrificing that time overseas. You miss birthdays, weddings, and life moments that you won’t get back. It gets lonely at times, and it can be hard to talk to family and friends because of the time differences. When I put it all into perspective though, there is nothing else I would rather be doing and it’s a true blessing being able to have these unique experiences.

 

How are you staying active during this pandemic?

I am making sure I remain diligent with my workouts and taking care of my body during this pandemic by thinking outside of the box. 

I have been going to the park and sprinting, and it’s been kicking my butt! I am able to lift weights with my dad, and he always comes up with challenging and creative workouts for us to conquer.

 

Where do you think the women’s game is headed? What advice do you instill in the next generation of female hoopers?

I define myself as being more than an athlete, and a woman before anything. I celebrate femininity and being a girly athlete, and I want to be this example for young women and girls all over the world that you can be strong and fierce on the court, but you can also have a softer side and embrace that as well. My goal is to bridge the gap between women's athletics and everyday womanhood. I recently threw a women’s empowerment event that included a panel of boss women in an uplifting space, I have been able to collaborate and partner with quite a few different brands for various campaigns, and I am in the process of creating my nonprofit which is aimed at being focused on young women and girls.

Where do you think the women’s game is headed? What advice do you have for the next generation of female hoopers?

I truly feel that the women’s game is growing and finally being taken more seriously by the world. There are plenty of NBA players who show love and support to our game, and I feel that this provides an example for fans all over to also give us that same respect and support. 

My biggest piece of advice for the next generation of hoopers is to take your process seriously, or no one else will. This means seeing your vision and being dedicated to executing it even if no one else around you sees it. Always be a student of the game and learn from every situation. Finally I advise young hoopers to stay hungry by outworking your competition and putting everything into your craft.