International Basketball star and WNBA alumni Michelle Campbell is an avid advocate for the growth, empowerment and development of women’s self esteem. Michelle conducts yearly basketball camps and events geared specifically toward speaking to young adults and teens about the importance of loving one’s self and celebrating the skin they’re in at a time when social media portrays physical perfection as everything.
Check out this Q&A to learn more about this inspirational athlete.
What is life like as an international professional athlete?
MC: It’s exciting because I travel the world and experience many different cultures. In Europe the fans are very animated during games. They chant and set fireworks in the stadium to pump up the crowd. Many say this is the dream life because you get to travel the world for free and meet people. I agree you do get to do those things, but you also work hard and make a lot of sacrifices.
We know you’ve had the opportunity to play for both the WNBA and the Euroleague. What are biggest differences between these leagues?
MC: Both of these leagues are very competitive, but the biggest difference is that the Euroleague does not have a lot of flash. It also counts with a diverse group of very talented players from different countries. On the flip side, the WNBA can be more physical with very athletic players, but all in all, both leagues are great and subscribe to two different styles of play.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened since you’ve become a professional athlete and how did you respond?
MC: The craziest thing to ever happen to me while playing basketball was landing at home where our fans had blocked the airport exit. They were shooting fireworks and chanting the night that we won the Turkish Cup. It was the first time that I experienced that type of enthusiastic support from fans.
Why is it important that you speak to young girls through your basketball camps? What are some of the things you hope to instill in them?
MC: It’s important because I have knowledge to share on being a professional athlete. Had I known some of these things when I was their age, I believe things could have been easier for me, so I want to pass down some of these findings. A lot of girls these days lack self confidence. Many are good at basketball but are not confident enough in their skill. An athlete that is skilled and lacks confidence does not have a long career. So the biggest thing I want my mentees to learn from me is that they must build their skill to build their confidence.
What advice do you have for young girls who want to play in the WNBA and/or internationally?
MC: Work hard for what you want because nothing in life is going to be given to you! You may be good at the level you are at now, but when you get to more competitive levels, there will be other women that will have better skills. What sets you apart is the work that shows through your actions.
What is your favorite book and/or author?
MC: A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive by David Pelter. In this book, a child persevered through so much abuse in his life and never gave up on succeeding. My other favorite book is Mind Gym : An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack with David Casstevens. This book is about mental toughness and how important it is to be able to control your mind. These books have encouraged me to stay focused on my goals and to keep moving forward.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
MC: I would say it was “Don’t worry what others think about you. It’s none of your business.” These words taught me that if you try to change how you act in order to please every person, you will lose your true self. When you don’t care about every opinion, you become a lion and no longer a sheep.
If you could play a game of 1 on 1 with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why?
MC: Cynthia Cooper. She is my all time favorite player. She is the reason I wanted to play in the WNBA. On top of that, she is a great person who was inspiring to me when I met her during my AAU days!