WNBA star gifts varsity girls basketball team new shoes on surprise visit


@NCHSGBB Instagram

Candace Parker (upper right), Central alumna and WNBA player, gifts basketball shoes to varsity girls basketball team members after their win against Benet Academy on Nov. 26.

Evelyn Zwicky, Staff Writer

Central’s varsity girls basketball team opened their season with a two-week win streak. 

At their most recent tournament the Redhawks defeated the number 10 team in the state, Benet Academy, 56 to 55 at home on Nov. 26. 

During the tournament, Candace Parker, WNBA player and class of 2004 Redhawk, came to watch and support the team and her former coach, Andy Nussbaum. 

Nussbaum has been coaching girls basketball for 41 years at Central. Parker and Nussbaum have maintained contact over the years and recently came together to plan the surprise visit for the team. After the tournament against Benet Parker gifted each varsity player with two new pairs of basketball shoes to wear as a team for the duration of the season. 

“It’s really indicative of the kind of person Candace is,” Nussbaum said. “It’s extremely generous and for me personally, not at all surprising.”

Senior and captain Claudia James said the team started off really strong at the Benet Academy tournament, but that there’s always room for improvement. 

“We’ve had a couple of close losses that we probably should have won, but we’ve performed really well and we’re playing good as a team,” James said. 

Nussbaum said he’s happy with the team’s start and is ready to get them into a routine again after COVID-19. 

“I feel we’ve got all the pieces to be a very good team.” Nussbaum said. “But the key is trust and knowing when it is time to trust your teammates.” 

Following the girls most recent loss on Dec. 14 against conference team and crosstown rival Naperville North, the Redhawks go on to play Hononegah High School away, on Dec. 17.

The next home game is against conference team, DeKalb High School on Jan. 5.