Every women’s basketball team in the 2012 Olympics went to London with Team USA in their crosshairs. But with the U.S. team going for an unprecedented fifth straight gold medal, fierce rivalry is no surprise. And, as the results of the games so far show, outplaying women with the standards of excellence and teamwork Team USA sets for itself is a daunting challenge.
No one is more committed to bringing home the gold than out player Seimone Augustus.
After helping Team USA win in Beijing in 2008, Augustus tore her ACL in June 2009, taking her out of the game for almost a year. She returned in time to attend a National Team training camp in April 2010, but was simply not the player she once was.
“My first bit of basketball getting back on the court was USA training camp in Connecticut and I just felt all out of sorts, out of whack, wasn’t in good shape,” she said. “I just didn’t feel like I was capable of playing at an elite level and it messed with me mentally and physically.”
When the National Team headed to the Czech Republic for the FIBA world games, Augustus went home, cut from the team. Then, as she got ready for the 2010 WNBA season, another medical problem interfered. After a tough practice, she had unbearable shooting pain in her abdomen and ended up in the hospital, where doctors found fibroid tumors so large that they were cutting off the blood supply to her uterus. The only option by that point was a hysterectomy.
Two months later, Augustus was back on the court, still struggling to get back her game. (She shot 42.9 % from the floor with a 16.9-point average, so “getting back her game” is relative.) But in 2011, she came to the season 20 pounds lighter and more focused than ever. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Lynx had assembled a formidable team.
“The situation with the team panned out perfectly,” she told the Advocate. “We got a great draft pick in Maya Moore, and some other veteran players and free agents, so it was just fitting that we came back to the season as a powerhouse-type team.”
The guard led the Lynx to its first WNBA Championship — and was the WNBA Finals MVP with an average of 24 points per game. (From the looks of things, the Lynx may win it all again this year.)
Augustus gives a lot of the credit for getting through rehab to her fiancée, LaTaya “Tay” Varner, who “put up with my nasty attitude on days when I was really depressed and didn’t want to talk to nobody.” The two met at a nightclub in Minnesota five years ago, and have been through all of Augustus’s trials and victories together.
When Augustus and Varner announced their engagement, many fans were surprised, since we didn’t know Augustus was out. But she came out to her family when she was 17. Now 28, she’s never hidden her sexual orientation, but just never talked about it publicly until she got engaged. The two plan to get married next summer.
For now, though, Seimone Augustus is concentrating on doing what she can to give Team USA its next victory — and appreciating the fact that she’s part of it. “Once I’m holding that gold medal, tears of joy may run down my face because it has been a journey for me to get back here,” she said. “It’s something I definitely appreciate, and I’m not going to take it for granted.”
Team USA faces the Czech Republic Friday at 5:15 ET and plays China Sunday at 11:45 ET. Join me in wishing Seimone Augustus and Team USA the best.