TOKYO – Not one to take long vacations, Jackie Young counted on a three- or four-day trip to Florida during the WNBA Olympic firings was an appropriate respite.
Florida was the destination. She did not stay long.
A call came late on July 17th. Young, the WNBA’s No. 1 overall in 2019 by Las Vegas Aces, did not recognize the number.
“I was like, ‘Wait, let me answer this,'” she said, minutes after helping American women’s basketball 3-on-3 team defeat Russia’s Olympic Committee in the format’s introductory gold medal game. “So I answered it and it was them.”
“Them” was a member of the American basketball committee member Jay Demings and Kara Lawson, the advisor to the 3-on-3 team. (Teams technically do not have “coaches” as no one is allowed on the sideline during games.)
Katie Lou Samuelson, the Seattle Storm guard and former University of Connecticut standout, had tested positive for COVID-19. As one of the original four members of the list, she could no longer travel to Tokyo.
Stefanie Dolson said losing Samuelson was “scary” because teammates Allisha Gray and Kelsey Plum did not know if they would be able to carry a fourth – leaving them without a replacement for the eight-team tournament – or who the compensation could be.
“Katie Lou was a big part of our team,” Dolson said. “She’s a shooter, she’s a defender, she’s tall. There were some creepy moments when we heard about it, but when we found out Jackie was coming – she’s a great defender, she can give the ball, she is very calm and she (showed) all that. “
Young, who played college ball in Notre Dame, flew from vacation to Vegas to begin the test protocol.
“I knew I had a chance to be on the team, but we were not sure,” she said. “I flew out the next morning.”
The rest of the 3-on-3 team traveled to Tokyo that Monday, and Young followed the day after. She fit right in, Dolson said – despite Young last playing the format in 2019.
“That’s all the credit to Jackie,” said Dolson, who had a team-high seven points in the 18-15 victory. “She did this on her own hard work and dedication. We practiced playing the first day she came here. The fact that she was able to get on board so quickly and learn our system, just props to her about it. “
All it took was to want some time away from court.
“It’s crazy to think about,” Young said. “Ten days ago I was on vacation. My life changed like that. Now I’m a gold medalist. It’s crazy how things work.”
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
This article was originally published in USA TODAY: Olympic 3-on-3 basketball player Jackie Young ends vacation for gold
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