Imani Boyette: Inside day one (of my best WNBA season ever)

DEERFIELD, IL - MAY 10: Imani Boyette
DEERFIELD, IL - MAY 10: Imani Boyette /

(Here’s Imani Boyette, taking you inside her first day of the regular season with the Chicago Sky on Sunday.)

7:45am: I wake up and begin getting ready for my day. I send a text to Ann Crosby, our strength/conditioning coach, and ask her if our practice loops are ready. We don’t do our own laundry. After games, practices, and workouts we put our dirty clothes on a loop to get washed. They are ready but our fancy hotel only allows you to go to your floor so I can’t get it, resign to getting it at the gym.

8:15am: I head downstairs and grab breakfast from the hotel restaurant. I want to write in my daily prayer journal and pray about the day but realize I left it at home. I write down my prayer in my phone’s notes instead. I thank God for another day and my loved ones and pray about my goals for the game. My goals are 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. For breakfast I have a bacon, cheddar, and egg croissant sandwich. It is delicious. I read my new book, Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult.

9:15am: We board the bus and head over to shoot around. Ann gives me my practice loop and game stuff (uniform, game loop, warmup). I change on the bus then continue reading my book. Reading calms me down, centers me.

ST PAUL, MN – MAY 14: Imani Boyette
ST PAUL, MN – MAY 14: Imani Boyette /

10am: We start with film. We watch Minnesota’s defense and talk about areas where we can succeed. We head out to the court and start with free throws and stretching. We get up and down a bit, then focus on Minnesota’s offensive sets. The last two games Tamera Young has won the halfcourt shot on her first try. I don’t even grab my ball before she swishes it from a couple feet behind half.

11:15am: We hop back on the bus and head back to the hotel. When we get there I go immediately to Jess Cohen, our athletic trainer. I get treatment before heading to see Ann for a quick lift. With Ann, I do a short 30-minute lift. I don’t normally lift on game day but Ann and I have been talking about what’s best for my longevity this season and preparing my body for it. I do various core exercises, step ups, and incline bench press.

1pm: I head back down to the hotel restaurant. For lunch, I get the Mother’s Day Special Halibut with asparagus and parmesan risotto. I really love risotto. I try to eat heavy before the game and if I don’t, I normally get a snack to eat closer to game time. I wander around a bit outside our hotel in Downtown Minneapolis but there are no options for me, so I return to my room.

1:30pm: I take a shower, do my hair and hop in bed for a quick nap. I only can nap for about an hour or else my body shuts down and thinks it’s time for bed. I learned this the hard way in college when I napped for three hours and woke up sluggish.

2:30pm: I wake up and pack my bag to take with me to the game. Unlike in college, after a WNBA game we must dress up to leave the arena. You don’t have to be fancy but shorts or sweats are frowned (and fined) upon. I grab my pregame bands, I do a hip and glute warmup with them. I grab my softball, used to hit tight muscles and roll out my foot. And lastly, I get dressed to leave.

3pm: My teammate Cheyenne Parker and I hop in an Uber and head to the gym before the bus leaves at 3:30. We have a different warmup under our new coach and it eliminated my time to get shots up alone. I’m a very routine person so I go early now.

3:15pm: Cheyenne and I arrive and figure out how to get down to the locker-room from the public street entrance. This is interesting but we eventually figure it out. The court is blocked for tech rehearsals during this time so we are literally shooting in the dark or under strobe lights while the announcer practices Minnesota’s starting lineup and their intro video.

4:15pm: The entire team is here and ready. We are watching more film, live action from last year’s game against them. Once Coach Stocks stops speaking, it is finally real. The first game of the season is here and we head out for our pregame warmup.

UNCASVILLE, CT – SEPTEMBER 11: Imani Boyette /

6pm: THE BALL TIPS. I run out when the announcer calls my name and high-five my teammates along the way. I approach the half court jump circle, say my prayer and do my pregame ritual. You may notice me doing this, I put my face in my palm and ask the Lord to give me my best and then kiss the inside of my wrist and point to the sky. The second part is for my husband, because even when he’s not at the game, I hear him rooting for me.

We lost the game by 9. I played subpar. The energy and effort was there but the focus and details were not. It also didn’t help that Sylvia Fowles dominated me. She put up an easy 26 and 10 on 9-15 shooting. I finished with 7 points and 12 rebounds to go with 5 turnovers. (If you were paying attention, I didn’t meet my goals.)

The hard part about having high goals for yourself is not getting too down but also acknowledging when you need to do and be better. I needed to be better. I pride myself on my defense but gave up 30 points to the person across from me. We did a good job on Maya [Moore], and Seimone [Augustus], and [Lindsay] Whalen but Syl exploded. I shot poorly, mainly because I rushed my shots in anticipation of the physicality of the game.

But like Rome, the best season of my pro career will not be deemed successful or a failure based on the first game of the season. My season high in rebounds last season was 12, I did that last night (granted I averaged 20 mins last year and played 30 last night). So against the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, I could post 7 and 12. In a game where we had 23 turnovers, we lost by 9.

I can build from that, we can build from that. Day one did not end the way I imagined, but I got better. Patience is key.