Jayne Appel is known for her grit, basketball IQ and as being the best passing post player in the WNBA. A WNBA All-Star as a rookie, Appel is a member of the US Women’s National Team, winning a gold medal with them at the World Championships in 2010 and has played overseas in Turkey and China. Prior to being drafted fifth overall by the San Antonio Stars, Appel was a Pac-10 Player of the Year and Pac-10 Scholar Athlete of the Year, led her Stanford team to three consecutive Final Fours, set the school record for most games played and broke the Pac-10’s record for rebounds. She remains first in the Stanford record books for points scored in a single game with 46. Appel was a 2009 Glamour Magazine Collegiate Woman of the Year and a two time All-American and finalist for the Wooden and Naismith Awards.
Athlete Ally is delighted to have Jayne come on board as an Ambassador. She recently chatted with Outreach Director Sam Marchiano about being a straight ally in women’s basketball.
Sam: It seems lots of female athletes are supportive of LGBT inclusion in sports, but few take that action step. What was your “I have to do something” moment?
Jayne: For me, learning about Athlete Ally was a great opportunity. It’s always been a part of my life. My best friend and roommate in college came out to me, and she said it was the most nerve-wracking experience ever. And I’ve had multiple teammates throughout my career, at Stanford, oversees, in the WNBA, who are still not comfortable coming out. Even though I’m straight, I want people to know I still have respect for you. I don’t care what you are, you could be polka-dot colored and it doesn’t matter to me. Having the opportunity and way for me to voice my opinion, and say that there are people out there who are religious and straight but who still support LGBT equality and equal love across the board is awesome. So joining your team was a way to voice that.
Sam: LGBT people seem more prevalent in women’s sports, but it’s not talked about as much. Do you think it could bring teams closer if you talked about everything? What would that mean?
Jayne: Definitely. It would be easier to relate to teammates, people could be themselves and connect and be comfortable. That’s when teams perform the best, when they don’t focus on other factors off the court.
Sam: Do you think there are more female allies willing to step forward soon given the recent progress of LGBT individuals in sports?
Jayne: Allyship is growing, becoming more talked about. When Britney Griner essentially said, “Get over it, it doesn’t affect my ability to play basketball, I’ll still school you guys on the court,” it made a difference. These role models will help younger generations to be able to say, “This is ok, I can still be a basketball player, swimmer, etc. and I can talk about it because I see these people ahead of me.” So I think the more people we have, gay or straight, who come out and say it doesn’t matter, just play your sport, will help allyship grow more quickly.