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WNBA rookie looks to ‘be a light’ for Christ

SAN ANTONIO (BP)–For years, Megan Frazee has known little but the cozy confines of a close-knit, Christian family.

One of three triplets, she has enjoyed a built-in support network for virtually all of her 22 years, a path which has led her to the doorstep of professional basketball fame. The scenery might have changed a lot along the way — her parents’ education jobs took the family from Laredo, Texas, to Miller, S.D., and to Xenia, Ohio — but the godly example of her father and mother and the tight bond between her siblings never did.

Bye-bye, comfort zone. Hello, big, new world.

Frazee, a 6-foot-3 guard/forward who earned Associated Press honorable mention All-America honors from Liberty University (Lynchburg, Va.) last season, is suddenly being thrust into an unfamiliar existence halfway across the country from her loved ones. Drafted 14th overall in April by the San Antonio Silver Stars, she will begin her professional career in earnest on June 6, when the Silver Stars open their WNBA regular season in Phoenix.

In many ways, she is officially on her own.

“I am thankful for my upbringing,” said Frazee, who placed her faith in Christ at age 5. “Ultimately, my parents raised me the majority of my life. I really feel blessed. I think they did a great job of teaching us about the Lord and teaching us where our priorities need to be — the Lord No. 1, then family, and then basketball.”

Evaluating Frazee strictly by her athletic skills, you’d never know basketball was that far down the list. She finished her career as a two-time Big South Conference player of the year who holds Liberty career records in double-doubles (50) and free-throw percentage (.805), is second in points (1,883) and third in rebounds (951). Had she not missed 25 games total during her freshman and senior years, she likely would own several more school records.

Last season, she averaged 19.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, earned the Big South tournament MVP award and helped the Lady Flames advance to their 12th NCAA tournament in the last 13 years.

“Not a lot of players get this opportunity,” Liberty head coach Carey Green said of Frazee’s entrance into the WNBA. “She’s a gifted and natural scorer; that is her strength. She’s got a great physique to play at the next level. With her development and playing career at Liberty, she had a huge impact on our success — and not only on our team, but I think she impacted the Big South overall.”

In San Antonio, Frazee’s challenge will be to morph from a four-year small-conference standout to a rookie role player in a premier league. The Silver Stars, who reached last year’s WNBA Finals before losing to the Detroit Shock, are loaded with talent, including 2008 All-WNBA stars Becky Hammon and Sophia Young. Indeed, playing time will be a hard-earned commodity.

To understand the challenge ahead, Frazee needs to look no further than her own teammate, fellow Liberty graduate Katie Feenstra, who was signed by the Silver Stars as a free agent in May. Feenstra, at 6-8, is one of the tallest players in the league and one of the best players ever to come out of the Big South Conference, having led the 2005 Lady Flames on a remarkable run to the NCAA’s Sweet 16 as a senior. Still, in her first four years in the league, Feenstra has struggled to earn playing time on three different teams, never starting more than 14 games (out of 34 total) in a season. Last year, she started a career-low four games and averaged 6.7 points per contest.

“Especially in San Antonio, they are a veteran team,” Frazee said. “They are experienced girls. I know it’s going to be a transition. I’m going in with an open mind and an open heart.”

While San Antonio head coach/general manager Dan Hughes is impressed with Frazee’s sturdy frame and her ability to “shoot like a male” from the perimeter, it likely will be her defensive acumen that gets her on the floor this summer. She will probably fill the roles of small and power forward.

“I would say she’ll have an opportunity to play off the bench, and if she defensively can get to a solid level, she’ll compete to play some,” Hughes said. “It will be a growing process this year and in her career.”

Even more important than Frazee’s on-court adjustments will be her spiritual maturation. The WNBA, like most other professional sports leagues, is flush with worldly temptations. She likely will face tests that never manifested themselves in her collegiate career.

She was home-schooled in grades 8-11 and has never attended a secular school. When all three triplets started their freshman year at Liberty, their parents and older brother moved to Lynchburg. Megan and her sisters, Molly and Moriah, shared a dorm and a car at an institution –- with its mandatory curfew and chapel attendance — that will never be confused for a party school.

Now, her family is roughly 1,400 miles away. But Frazee is confident that her faith will remain strong because of her deep spiritual roots and the unique training she received.

“Basketball has been a big part of my life, but I remember my dad always making sure I knew where my priorities were,” she said. “Having two sisters there was like two accountability partners. Being at Liberty solidified everything I learned growing up. I’m really excited to get out there and be a light for Him.”

All things considered, Frazee probably couldn’t have landed on a better team. The Silver Stars feature a Christian influence that few other franchises can match. At least seven players of the 16 players on their roster are professing believers, including Hammon and Young, not to mention some of their coaches.

“It’s going to be great help to Megan,” said Hughes, who has been a Christian for nearly 20 years. “I’ll be honest with you, [adjusting to the WNBA] is going to be a challenge for Megan. She’ll be with a group of people who will tell her, not only in words, but actions — a purpose-driven life. She’ll see that in them. She’ll see them frustrated and working at it. That will be good for her.”

Ironically, Frazee is enjoying what amounts to a small Liberty satellite campus in San Antonio. Besides the Feenstra connection, Olaf Lange and Sandy Brondello, who are married, are assistant coaches under Hughes. From 2005 to 2007, Lange was an associate head coach at Liberty.

“It’s neat to see the Lord work in different areas,” Frazee said. “It’s neat to see Coach Lange come on [at Liberty], then leave, and now it’s coming full circle.”

As she enters an exciting, new phase of her life, Frazee can’t help but reflect on the grace-filled path God has led her on. Her entrance into the WNBA, certainly, is a result of rare skills and much hard work, but it is also a gift.

“I think back to Xenia and the small Christian school I attended to where I’m at now,” she said. “There was college with my sisters, which was really great. I spent four years at Liberty, and I learned a lot of things in all aspects of life. I’ve been blessed with a great education and great parents. Transitioning to San Antonio will be another challenge, but I’m excited. I’m blessed.”
Joshua Cooley, a regular contributor to BPSports (www.BPSports.net), writes from his home in Germantown, Md.

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