|As tasteful as this issue will allow....
I enjoyed seeing her development as a leader and a player. For example, as I wrote in Sportsmanship 101: Fundamental of the Game, "I hated seeing the Notre Dame Women’s basketball team lose the National Championship to Texas A&M. But, I am more upset that Skylar Diggins, sophomore guard of the Lady Irish left the floor without shaking hands with the Aggies." Last year, however, when the Irish were defeated by archival UConn in the Final Four, Diggins, now a senior, imparted emotional words of gratitude for the team she had played with all year; her affection for them and her coach was undeniable. Drafted third overall in the WNBA to the Tulsa Shock, I think her 441,000 followers on Twitter would agree, she has poise, class, intelligence and insight on and off the hardwood. But, what's most fascinating to me is that she has managed to extend this to the 2014 Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue.
|Why is this ok?
Diggins is a natural leader. As a point guard, you should be. But I believe her approach to the swimsuit issue, is one that other women and female athletes in particular, can learn from. In the South Bend Tribune's Skylar Diggins in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, she said:
“I didn’t really know how I was going to approach modeling swimsuits,” Diggins said in a video on SportsIllustrated.com. “I had never modeled in a swimsuit before."
“I loved the pictures. I think this was a great change of pace for me, speaking as an athlete, now, to show my femininity. I think that every woman is beautiful in her own way. It’s great to be a part of this magazine that celebrates not only models, but athletes as well, and puts it into perspective that all women are beautiful.”
|She maintains her femininity on the court.
Furthermore, no photo is unrealistic or distasteful. My friend said "that bathing suit looks like one you could buy at J. Crew." In other words, what Diggins sports is one that many women can and do wear. Maybe that's because she consulted her parents before she consented to the opportunity. Her step-father Maurice Clark admitted, “I told her the only thing is, Mom is going to have to go on the set and make sure the swimsuits she puts on have some taste, and make sure it wasn’t anything too bad for Dad’s sake.”
|Evidence of a commitment to physical fitness.
In this way, I believe Skylar is a worthy role model. Although she may have been disposed with some athletic genes, she has as an incredible body because she works at it. Not only does she look undeniably fit and athletic, she is also strong and thin. To me, she looks healthy and happy.
“I think it’s very cool,” McBride said. “Skylar is already such a great figure for women’s basketball, and for her to be able to switch it over and use the beauty side of it is outstanding. Our images change so many times as basketball players. For her to go out there and express it in a different way, as beautiful of a girl as she is, it’s really cool.
“Skylar is so comfortable in her skin, and she’s so confident, on and off the court. I’m really proud of her. She’s really stepped up.” Notre Dame women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw also supported Diggins’ appearance as a swimsuit model. “Skylar has always represented Notre Dame well, and continues to,” McGraw said.
Coach McGraw, one of my heroes, is right. And the publicity Diggins has garnered from what may be a controversial decision has only illuminated for me why I appreciate Skylar Diggins. It should be obvious, it should be a given: she is so much more than a basketball player. We are always more than what meets the eye. As she mentions in the video, she is "a daughter and a sister." She is a self-promoter and an entrepreneur. She is a friend and someday she might be a wife and mother. She is undeniably blessed and I feel fortunate to share a connection with her that started with Notre Dame, but has extended far beyond in our shared principles and values. Thank you Sky! By the way, can we workout sometime? Go Irish.
Sky in SI