‘I grew up with my father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather telling stories about the bay.’
“I’d already been playing basketball in Europe for 10 years before the WNBA started, but there were whisperings about something happening in America.
“My teammates who were overseas with me were all a very tight group: Teresa Weatherspoon, Cynthia Cooper, Jennifer Gillum, Cindy Brown. We all came back to America together and were so excited to play in the WNBA.
“Playing for the New York Liberty was a huge success. We were so lucky to be in that spot, and we were determined that the league was going to last. We spoke with fans after games and realized how important this movement was to so many women. It was a magical time.
“I knew that every season could be the last one. I played until I was 36 years old, and basketball was the only thing I’ve ever known. I coached and had a startup business. I was dedicated, but I wasn’t passionately engaged.
Who knew I would end up liking my little oyster farm?
“I discovered my passion to work on the water. I feel fully engaged in oyster farming. That’s where my soul fits. Most of my friends are still involved in sports in some way, but I think what we all still have in common is that we’re pursuing something that makes us feel alive.
“Who knew I would end up liking my little oyster farm? Aquaculture, which is the breeding and harvesting of fish and shellfish, is reinventing the bay’s ecosystem. My hope is it makes the bay so healthy that we have a resurgence of baymen, that we have abundance again in the water.
“Most people that are in aquaculture are interested in restoration. We have a Mastic Beach Conservancy here, and our hope is to have parkland, eelgrass plantings, oyster restoration sites and citizen scientists.
“I’m optimistic. I believe in humans. Obviously, they can do super destructive things, but we’re so smart collectively that I think we can figure out any problem. And above and beyond, Mother Nature is a genius. She will fix herself if we don’t figure it out.
“I grew up with my father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather telling stories about the bay. Their love was demonstrated by, ‘Let me tell you a story about this.’ I think by telling me those little intimate stories, they were saying, ‘This is yours and it’s what I loved. I hope you love it, too.’”
Interviewed by Maggie Melito