Get Ready for the Golden State Valkyries, Bay Area’s New WNBA Team

Ohemaa Nyanin, named general manager last week, will build the Valkyries. Nyanin, who previously served as the New York Liberty’s assistant general manager, will oversee all basketball operations for the team.

She was the second woman to join the WNBA expansion team since it was announced last October. Jess Smith was named the squad’s president in January. Soon after, construction began on women’s locker rooms at both Chase Center and the Oakland Arena. The team has already garnered 7,500 deposits for season tickets, according to the New York Times.

Bonnie Morris, a professor of women’s sports history at UC Berkeley, believes increasing leadership roles for women in college basketball has contributed to the league’s success. She said doing the same in the WNBA is key.

“The participation of women and girls in sports has exploded, but we don’t see women dominating in leadership,” Morris said. “In the next generation, what we’re going to see is more women leading athletic departments at universities, and that will make a big difference in terms of athletic dollars going into women’s sports.

“That is very much part of the role that universities play in helping women into professional careers as athletes as well.”

In 2023, women held 75% of head coaching positions in the WNBA.

Nyanin previously worked as USA Basketball’s assistant director of the women’s national team and serves as FIBA America’s World Cup Qualifier Technical Delegate and Manager. During her time with the Liberty, she helped the team to three playoff appearances, including in the WNBA finals last season.

The Liberty are led by two of the game’s best, Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu. During the 2024 NBA All-Star weekend, Ionescu had a thrilling three-point shooting exhibition with the Warriors’ Stephen Curry.

In the coming months, Nyanin’s priority will be hiring a head coach. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced earlier this year that she anticipates an expansion draft — when Golden State will be given the opportunity to nab players from existing franchises — in December.

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