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Last season, Angie and I would be scribbling madly trying to take notes during these kinds of events. Invariably, we missed stuff or couldn’t remember the prize Dunn-isms correctly. Technology, in the form of a tape recorder and dictophone, to the rescue. We won’t be recording and transcribing everything (actually that would be Angie doing the transcribing, I’m just the idea guy), but we will for the important events.

This is an important event. Not only is it the official kick–off for the preseason march to Opening Day, it comes 2 days before what may be one of the most important events in the Storm’s young history — Draft Day 2002. We all know by now what the results of the Draft are — no trades, no hesitations, no questions — Sue Bird is the #1 pick and we’re keeping her. But on this day, there is all kinds of speculation about trades, which draftees would fit in better or have more impact and all sorts of other backseat GMing.

Before the event starts, people are catching up with each other, the players are mingling and signing a couple autographs, and the Sister Guitar Band, set up on the side of the gym, is jamming away. They have written 2 songs for the Storm that they will debut for us after the Q&A. The fans are being asked to vote for the song that will eventually be adopted as the team’s song (for those of you who didn’t attend, you will be able to vote at the band’s website). It’s going to be a hard choice since both songs are strong and should play well in the Key. If you vote, your name also goes into a raffle for 2 tickets to a game, courtesy of the band — so vote already.

One great thing about the crowd that is here is that it’s not just the usual suspects. There is a core of dedicated nutcases (like yours truly) who go to every event, game, appearance, nose blowing, etc. Tonight there is about 200 people in attendance which is easily twice the attendance at some of last year’s early events. All in all, the atmosphere is energetic and everyone is anxious for the season to start.

So, without further blather, here is the transcript from the Q&A event. Enjoy!

(The players are seated in front of the crowd, Coach Dunn is walking around, Karen Bryant and the rest of the Storm staff is off to one side. I have minimally edited the comments — only to remove the uhs, ums and other similar stuff.)

Karen Bryant: I want to offer from my perspective all of the optimism and excitement that all of us in the front office feel about this third season and I hope that all of you as our most loyal and core fans, our season ticket holders, certainly share that excitement. I don’t know about you, but the offseason has been far, far too long for all of us. So it starts Friday, obviously with the excitement around our back to back number one picks and all of the events that will transpire not only Friday but immediately after Friday leading up to what will again culminate on a special night with Opening Night on May 30th in KeyArena. We have been very busy in the offseason. From a fans perspective like I’ve said it’s been too long, but from a worker’s perspective, it’s been just about right. We’ve had a lot of work to do to really ramp up a year round sales and marketing effort to give the Storm the resources it deserves, to really make this third season, the 2002 season, the best one yet. So we feel like we’ve laid a lot ground work. We’ll talk about, if we don’t get to stuff tonight, you will certainly hear in the coming weeks about a lot of the new initiatives that we have. That many of you as season ticket holders will be beneficiaries of, but certainly with all of our fans. I don’t want to take up any more time, but I do want to actually introduce one of the biggest strides we made in the off season: I actually had the privilege to go out and hire some people specifically to be focused and dedicated resources to promote the Storm on a year round basis and I want to take a few minutes to introduce all of them. I have first of all our ticket sales staff members who are here, Heidi Hanson and Tanya Tesar are over by the door; and the other two members of our ticket sales staff, Amy Burdick and Susie Jarosch. As season ticket holders, you definitely want to get to know them. Each one of you is assigned a personal account rep, one of those four very special people and make sure you know which representative is assigned to your account and they can handle any needs that you have. They are there to take care of you on a year round basis. So make sure you take advantage of that. Our new corporate sales manager, Anthony O’Neil and two other new members of our team, our community relations coordinator, all the way from New Hampshire, Sarah Childs. Any of you who are interested in player appearances or having Coach Dunn or myself come out and speak, Sarah is the one you want to talk to you so make sure you remember that name. And then our marketing manager, Sam Maccarrone. I’m going to go ahead and turn it over to Coach Dunn, let her give you kind of an overview from the basketball perspective and then we will get the players up here and really, this night is for you, so we don’t want to take up too much time. We want to open the floor for you to be able to ask your questions and get things that are on your mind addressed. But on behalf of all of us, thank you for coming. Tonight is really the first event that we have an opportunity for us to share all of our excitement about the upcoming season, with more exciting news to come very soon. We appreciate everything that you do, appreciate your continued support. Without you as the solid foundation you are as season ticket holders, we wouldn’t be here and what we do wouldn’t have as much meaning. So on behalf of the entire organization, thank you again, welcome and here’s Coach Dunn, Jamie Redd, Michelle Marciniak, and Charmin Smith.

Coach Dunn: Let’s thank the Sister Guitar Band again. I want to tell you what, if we had more time, we’d have a dance. They were great. You guys, thank you so much. We are so excited to have you here tonight and the fact that you are here, just before the draft and we are getting ready to kick off this season, you are certainly key fans to us. We love your support, we love your enthusiasm and we love you because you are going to help us go a little bit further this year and let’s get in those playoffs. I want to tell you what, in the second year if we could flirt with the playoffs and if we could beat Houston, if we can beat Phoenix, and we can beat Utah like we did last year, we are going to get a couple of really more good picks in this draft. I’m really excited about this next season. I want to tell you something else, I just got back from Australia, saw Lauren Jackson. She looks great, her shoulder’s fixed. She’s playing well, She is very excited about coming back. I want to make sure you guys understand that. There was never any misunderstanding. She’s called me twice, “Coach, what are we doing? Who are we drafting? Blah, blah, blah, blah.” But I’m not telling a soul. The only person who knows who we are drafting is my mother and she’s in Dresden, Tennessee and she can’t hear so she won’t answer the phone. Friday is draft day. People have been calling me, writing me, emailing me, I can’t even check out at QFC without the cashier going “Sue Bird.” Not even “How much are the groceries,” it’s “Sue Bird.” Then I hear Swin Cash. Then I hear Nikki Teasley and then I hear Stacey Dales. Who thinks we should take Sue Bird? [lots of hands] Swin Cash? [a couple of hands] Did I say Stacey Dales? Stacey Dales. [a few hands, including mine - Scott]. Trade the pick? [silence for a sec, then a big “no” from the crowd and the players]. Oh, interesting. Well, we are very fortunate that starting in January and this is an indication of the commitment that the new owners have made to our team, Michelle Marciniak, Jamie Redd and Charmin Smith have been here in the community; out doing appearances and they have also been here in the facility working out. It’s been wonderful to have them back. And I can’t think of three better representatives in the community. Say hello Michelle.

Michelle Marciniak: Hello.

CD: You can tell she’s from Tennessee too. Not born in Tennessee, but she’s been in Tennessee. How’s it been in the offseason?

MM: Good, good. I’ve been here since January 4th and it’s actually been great. We have been out in the community a whole lot and gotten an opportunity to just talk to a lot of kids and talk to a lot of people and try to generate some support, a lot of support for the upcoming season. Just like Coach says, our goals this year are to make it to the playoffs and I can sit up here and honestly say that we worked our tails off in the offseason. I know everybody on our team is fully committed to doing that and to making sure that that gets done. So, Jamie…

CD: Thank you, Michelle. Jamie, how you doing?

Jamie Redd: I’m fine. To just echo what Michelle said, I thinks it’s been a great opportunity for us to be here, working out with our coaches and stuff. I mean that helps us to get a step above everybody else. You know, Michelle came in during the latter part of season last year. To just be able to work out with her and see her style and be competitive and talk mess to each other and work out is just an incredible feeling, as well as with Charmin. Just getting that gel, that chemistry together, I think that’s going to be important coming in to training camp because the three of us have been here so you know we will accept some responsibility for leadership and helping other people out.

CD: Exciting, Jamie. Where did you go to college?

JR: University of Washington [applause of course, except from those wearing Oregon shirts].

CD: All right then. Now, Charmin from Stanford has her own microphone.

Charmin Smith : That’s how you do it. I’m happy to be here. We’ve had a great time here in the gym working out and trying to get better for this season, but I’m also happy to see everyone who is here in front of us back to support us. I’m assuming you are all season ticket holders and if you’re not, then you’ll be buying season tickets. You know, this is great because we, we’re going to have a great season and we want people to be there to share in this excitement and if they are not in KeyArena, they are really going to miss out this summer because we are determined and we know that we can accomplish some wonderful things. I want to thank you all for jumping on board and hopefully you can grab a few friends and help us out this season at the Key.

CD: Thank you Charmin. And we want to give you guys a chance to ask us some questions. Before we do that I did want to mention as Karen said she’s had the opportunity to add to her staff. We’ve also increased our coaching staff. Two people that were with us last year are here tonight, Missy Bequette, in Basketball Operations, and Gary Kloppenburg one of our assistants. We also have Chris Bown, who has been helping out in player development, who also coaches at Holy Names [a local Seattle high school] and then yesterday or today or some time recently we just announced the hiring of our other assistant coach and that’s Carrie Graf from Australia who has been in Phoenix for three, four years now working with the Phoenix team. She brings a wonderful list of credentials to our team with her experience in the WNBA as well as coaching Lauren Jackson to the WNBL Championship in Australia. She’ll get here next week. So we have lots of good things going on on that side of the net. Now, you’re here, you are our fans, and I see a young man back there in the back with his hand up. Would you like to ask the first question?

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