– blogged by @LoveRubyWoo
Retired WNBA player, Candice Wiggins, is opening up for the first time about her experience playing in the league. While Wiggins had a pretty successful career, as she earned a number of accolades and won a championship with the Minnesota Lynx, she says that there is a part of it that hampered the experience for her and eventually led to her early retirement. According to the former star, who spoke with the San Diego Union-Tribune, she says that she spent the majority of her eight-year career being bullied by other players because she was heterosexual.
“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply. There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs. The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension.”
Wiggins added that due to her high-profile status coming out of college, she was targeted even more by fellow players out of jealousy. “People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’”
Adding to the “toxic” and “harmful” culture of the WNBA, as Wiggins describes it, was the fact that the league itself was struggling to succeed. With poor attendance at games and low viewership on television, Wiggins recalls that it was somewhat depressing and disheartening for her. She also shared about the expectations within the WNBA for women to act more masculine, and how that had a negative impact on her as well. “So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect. I was the opposite. I was proud to a be a woman, and it didn’t fit well in that culture.”
Since retiring from basketball last year, Wiggins has decided to turn to professional beach volleyball instead, a sport that she has dabbled in since high school. With her new career, she hopes to make it to the pros and maybe one day to the Olympics but most importantly, she hopes to find the comfortable home that she could not find in the WNBA.