Pennsylvania State Senator Art Haywood and State Representative Chris Rabb visited Chestnut Hill College last week to welcome to the city its first professional women’s basketball team in more than two decades: the Philadelphia Reign.
The College held a press conference on March 15 to officially announce the Reign’s arrival in the City of Brotherly Love. The conference was attended by Haywood, Rabb, members from the Reign’s organization, Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D., president of the College, Jesse Balcer, head athletic director, and players and coaches from CHC’s women’s basketball team. The Reign, a team in the Women’s Development Basketball Association, will play its home games and practice in Ann Rusnack-Sorgenti Arena beginning in May.
Speaking at the conference, Haywood said the addition of the Reign to Philadelphia’s sports scene is a “tremendous event.” He added that he believes the Reign’s presence in the city will have a positive impact on the lives of young people, particularly young women. The organization that owns the Reign, Playmakers Basketball Royalties, is a women-and-veteran-owned organization that works with local communities to provide outreach and mentoring opportunities.
“I can’t tell you how encouraged I am to hear about the mentoring of and working with young women done by this organization, this leadership,” Haywood said. “It’s something we desperately need in Philadelphia and, obviously, across this entire nation.”
Rabb said that having the Reign play in Philadelphia is “a big deal” for him. As a professional women’s sports team, he said the Reign will help diversify Philadelphia sports by being the city’s first professional women’s basketball team in more than two decades.
“There is no lack of women and girls who care about sports, who want to make it their career,” Rabb said. “And we have everything we need to make that happen, but the law and society and all of us who care about equity and justice have to ensure that these opportunities are taken advantage of.”
Rabb continued by saying the Reign will build “community wealth” in Northwest Philadelphia.
“This is happening here, which means that it helps us,” he said. “It helps the Chestnut Hill College community, it helps the Philly community, it helps those neighborhoods around here, it helps our economy, it helps everyone. And that’s a beautiful thing.”
Balcer said he is eager to collaborate with the Reign.
“It is really exciting to know that there will be a professional women’s basketball franchise playing in our arena,” he said.
The Women’s Development Basketball Association was established in 2005 by Willie McCray; it was known then as the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League. McCray created the league to give players the chance to continue playing after college and potentially make the leap to the Women’s National Basketball Association. The league originally consisted of 10 teams, but that number has since grown to 37.
Playmakers Basketball Royalties owner and CEO Tamika Milburn said she purchased the Reign to bring a women’s basketball team back to her hometown of Philadelphia. Her organization also owns the Atlanta Monarchs, who won the league championship in 2018. While she hopes to bring that same level of success to Philadelphia, the most important thing for her is to assist and mentor young women.
This sentiment is shared by Tanae Davis-Cain, the head coach of the Reign. A former WNBA player and a Philadelphia native, Davis-Cain has high expectations for the team both on and off the court.
“For a long time, we’ve been on the court and in the community, and that’s something that we as a team want to come here and continue to do,” she said.
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