PHOENIX MERCURY PROUD TO HAVE A PREDOMINANTLY FEMALE BASKETBALL OPERATIONS STAFF
If you can see her, you can be her, and the Phoenix Mercury is showing girls and women everywhere that women belong in sports – whether on the court or behind the scenes.
Of the Mercury’s 15 full-time basketball operations, coaching and health & performance staff members, all but three are female.
“Whoever is best for the job gets the job, and I think that’s what’s most important: that we hire qualified people,” said Kyra Vidas, head of basketball operations and equipment for the team. “And on the Mercury side, almost all of those qualified people happen to be female, which is great – great for the league, great for the industry and great for the sport.”
Vidas also works for the Suns during the WNBA offseason, where – alongside longtime Suns and Mercury Equipment Manager Denise Romero – she is one of only a handful of women on the equipment operations side.
“Representation is everything,” said Assistant Coach Cinnamon Lister. “If you can see women – young women, older women, different types of women – doing these things and being in these positions, then you can aspire to be in those positions as well. I think it’s really important that the representation is there.”
“It’s always important to see that representation and to have those voices and perspectives really respected and valued,” added Mercury Assistant General Manager Monica Wright Rogers, “especially with how many strong women it took to build this league from the ground up.”
Head Coach Vanessa Nygaard views the women on the Mercury staff as potential role models for girls and women both outside and within the organization.
“It’s important to me to support and give opportunities to women and former players,” said Nygaard. “There are a lot of ways former players can stay involved and help continue to grow the league. Those jobs are not just in coaching but in basketball leadership and business. Our fantastic new assistant general manager, Monica Wright Rogers, is a great example of that, coming to us with a wealth of basketball and business experience from her time at the NBA. It’s great to see a league for women with so many women in leadership positions.”
Having strong female examples is not the only benefit that Mercury players receive from working with a predominantly female staff.
“I think coming from the players, they really feel a strong desire to work with females,” said Head Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist Hannah Wengertsman.
“I think as females, we can relate to the players really well, especially with our health & performance staff all being former athletes, we have an idea of what they’re going through, so it just makes it that much easier to form relationships with them and makes it easier to do our job.”
Cari Stankaitis, the newly hired performance therapist, is thrilled to have found a home here with the Mercury’s talented group of women and be a part of the high-energy atmosphere that it has given rise to.
“I think women, and especially the women here, each bring really great energy to the space. Everyone here is a hard worker and feeds off each other’s energy, which I think ultimately benefits the players and creates a really good environment.”
Returning Assistant Coach Nikki Blue echoes her sentiment.
“It’s amazing,” said Blue. “You feel empowered every single day that you come in. It’s great being around women who are so experienced in their specific fields and have excelled. We’re constantly pushed every day and it’s great we’re able to just be free and be ourselves.”
The WNBA is growing, women’s sports is growing and the number of women in sports is growing.
March is Women’s History Month – a time to reflect on the progress women have made and all the progress that is still to come.
Every day, more women are given opportunities to work in sports, an industry historically dominated by men. Here at the Mercury, we are proud to not only have incredible women on our basketball operations staff, but incredible allies in the men in our organization, who together are inspiring the next generation of leaders in the sports industry.
Mercury Basketball Operations and Health & Performance Staff
Jim Pitman – General Manager
Monica Wright Rogers – Assistant General Manager
Kyra Vidas – Head of Basketball Operations & Equipment
Hannah Wengertsman – Head Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist
Taneisha Jones – Assistant Athletic Trainer
Cari Stankaitis – Performance Therapist
Annalise Pickrel – Strength & Conditioning Coach
Katie Pesek – Performance Dietician
Ciara Carl – Video Coordinator
Rex Greabell – Assistant Video Coordinator
Mercury Coaching Staff
Vanessa Nygaard – Head Coach
Cinnamon Lister – Assistant Coach
Nikki Blue – Assistant Coach
Tully Bevilaqua – Assistant Coach
Elijah Knox – Player Development Coach