WNBA All-Star and Atlanta Dream forward Angel McCoughtry is heading to the Olympics – again. She was among 12 players named to the U.S. Olympic Team and will be one of at least two lesbians on the squad.
It's the second time McCoughtry will be an Olympian. She was a member of the 2012 gold-medal winning U.S. squad and has captured gold as a member of the 2010 and 2014 U.S. FIBA World Championship Team.
“I think the emotion, I don't even know how to explain it, it's just a gut feeling because you're nervous about the call, and you don't even know what you're going to hear,” McCoughtry said in a prepared statement. “When you hear that you made the team, there's just this feeling you get, there's excitement, there's butterflies and the thought that, ‘Wow! I get to represent my country again.’ It gives you more motivation and makes you want to get ready even more. Like, I want to go to the gym right now just to get ready. There's definitely a motivation that you feel inside.”
McCoughtry averaged 10.9 points and a tournament second-best 2.5 steals per game during the London Games, and her field goal percentage (.620) bested all competitors.
But the pressure is on the women's team to see if it can capture a sixth-straight gold medal in the Rio de Janeiro Games, which opens its women's basketball competition on Aug. 6. The Dream opens its season on May 14.
"You know what? It still hasn’t hit me yet. Even from the last Olympics, it’s like, ‘Wow, I’m really one of the best players in the world? I’m playing on the Olympic team?’ And then to win the gold, it’s like, ‘Wow, we really are the best. We are really some of the best in the world.’ It’s still hard to grasp," McCoughtry said.
McCoughtry is joined on the U.S. Olympic squad by Brittney Griner, a lesbian and center for the Phoenix Mercury who is playing in her first Olympics. Other members of the roster include three-time Olympic gold medalists and tri-captains Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); two-time Olympic champions Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) and Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx); and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx). Competing in their first Olympic Games are Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky) and Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut).
"Back in the 2012 Olympics, I was in the core group that brought energy to the team off the bench. We came in the game, and you didn’t lose that energy. Now we’ve gotten a little bit older, so that core group is definitely a little bit older, so we definitely have to get smarter," McCoughtry said.
"I think what I bring personally is to continually bring that energy off the bench and be a defensive stopper. And that is what [head coach Geno Auriemma] talks to me about, me being a good defensive stopper off the bench. We have a lot of players who can score. We know anybody can score on any day on this team, so that’s not the issue. So what can I do outside of scoring is getting steals, rebounds pumping the team up, giving them that energy they need. That is the role that I have embraced and will continue to embrace for the 2016 Olympics," she added.
McCoughtry, 29, came out in March 2015 to little surprise thanks to an Instagram feed full of photos with her now-fiance Brande Elise. Coming out publicly, though, provided freedom and a fresh start, McCoughtry later told ESPN.
The couple appeared on "Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta" on Jan. 29 to try on potential attire for their wedding day in Bridals by Lori in Sandy Springs. And let's not forget when McCoughtry bared all for the ESPN Body Issue.
[photo courtesy Angel McCoughtry Fan Site]