Chicago Sky's Delle Donne Hosts Clinic for City's Special Olympics Athletes

By Justin Breen on January 15, 2014 8:05am 

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 Chicago Sky superstar Elena Delle Donne will host a basketball clinic for about 100 Special Olympics Chicago athletes on Thursday at Loyola Park.
Elena Delle Donne
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ROGERS PARK — Reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne won't mind losing a few games later this week.

The Chicago Sky superstar will host a basketball clinic for about 100 Special Olympics Chicago athletes at Loyola Park, 1230 W. Greenleaf Ave., on Thursday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Part of the event will feature Delle Donne facing off against some of the Special Olympians in one-on-one tilts. Delle Donne has never won one of those affairs during the many Special Olympics clinics she's held.

"I'm a big loser when it comes to one-on-one games with Special Olympics athletes," Delle Donne said. "I like them to win that challenge and be able to brag about it the rest of their lives."

Delle Donne, 24, has a much-publicized close relationship with her older sister Lizzie, who has autism and cerebral palsy. Delle Donne, of Skokie, has a bachelor's degree in human services from the University of Delaware and strives to help children with special needs.

She considers the Special Olympics clinics her "favorite thing to do all year."

"It's just such a joy to spend time with these incredible people," Delle Donne said. "The best part is just interacting with all the kids. I absolutely love the interaction with them, not necessarily with the basketball skills, but the social skills and having a lot of fun together."

Delle Donne said she'll be teaching mostly offensive skills like ball-handling, shooting and passing to the Special Olympians, but noted there also will be some on-ball defense.

She said in past clinics, some of the Special Olympians wore Delle Donne T-shirts, but many others had no idea who she was.

"Some will ask if I even play basketball," she said.

Delle Donne was selected No. 2 overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft and more than lived up to lofty expectations. The 6-foot-5-inch guard/forward averaged 18.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in the regular season and led the Sky to the first round of the playoffs. She also was the leading vote-getter for the 2013 WNBA All-Star Game.

 Elena Delle Donne poses with youth basketball players at a recent clinic. The Chicago Sky star hosts several clinics each year.
Elena Delle Donne poses with youth basketball players at a recent clinic. The Chicago Sky star hosts several clinics each year.
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Chicago Sky

"Hopefully we can continue to put a great product out there," Delle Donne said. "I think it was a really good season. We had done a lot of things we hadn’t done before."

Streeterville-based Special Olympics Chicago features more than 5,500 participating athletes, ages 8 and older. Chicago is the birthplace of Special Olympics.

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