[SPORTS] Lindsey Yamasaki - Basketball Player (Female-Style)
- She Got Game! -- The WNBA's Lindsey Yamasaki
By Audrey Panichakoon
While most New Yorkers are outside enjoying their lunch break, 6'2"
Lindsey Yamasaki practices with her NY Liberty teammates. Inside an
empty Madison Square Garden, as the Liberty practice, electricians
prepare the arena, and other WNBA professionals are prepping for
that day's game.
Yamasaki, 22, a native Californian, now resides in suburban White
Plains, NY and commutes to work like most others. But unlike most
others, she only works three and a half months out of the year, and
her job description is, well, playing basketball on national TV.
Since kindergarten, Lindsey has been a biathlete, excelling in both
volleyball and basketball, and was the first American-born Asian to
ever play for the WNBA. In addition to her physical abilities, she
received a degree in Architecture and Urban Design from Stanford
After her practice, she sat down to chat with me about her life as a
WNBA player, but with her down-to-earth, friendly demeanor it felt
more like catching up with friends.
Her typical day consists of practice. "It's about 4 hours," said
Lindsey, "We lift every other day." Of her skills on the court, she
says, "I feel like I have instinct with basketball and I've always
have. I love that feeling."
"I love being able to read things and see things whether it's on the
floor or not. I feel like it's fun to figure it out. It's like a
puzzle. Trying to see what's good, what's right and wrong," express
Lindsey. "And obviously, I love winning and my teammates."
Although she loves what she's doing now, the one drawback is that it
can be exhausting, with many games in a short amount of time.
When asked what was her toughest game, Lindsey responds, "That's
hard to say. We've had a lot of real heartbreakers." Most recently,
the New York Liberty lost to Detroit three games in a row in
overtime. "Yeah, I'd say they are our toughest opponent as well."
To relax after practice or a game, like most people, she'll grab
food with her friends and go home to sleep. Says Lindsey, "I also
love taking baths. I take them a lot, an unusual amount to really
relax from a long workout."
Being new to New York City, she does try to make time to tool around
the city. So far, her favorite place is Greenwich Village. "I think
it's really cool for a lot different reasons, just for shopping,
hanging out," says Lindsey. She also enjoys walking in Central Park.
Raised in a bicultural household, Lindsey grew up in a predominately
white community and it wasn't until college that she realized that
the Japanese community was reaching out to her, and she full
heartedly embraced them back. She said, "I really recognize that I
need to reach out, reach back out to the Japanese community that I
represent. I feel like that I'm still trying to learn more of both
While Lindsey is balancing the Japanese and American cultures, she
is still a rare sight in professional sports in the US. "I've been
called Kristi Yamaguchi or Lindsey Yamaguchi at least five times
every game day." This is, of course, in spite of the obvious
differences between the two athletes. However, graceful as she is,
Lindsey didn't say that it annoys her, she was just curious how
people could confuse them and would just like to know why.
Lindsey loves what she's doing now, but she knows that it's not
something she can or will do for decades to come. "I know I'm going
to pursue other things. I'm going to find something equally if not
more passionate about to finish."
In the meantime, though, Lindsey is enjoying playing with the best
of the best in women's basketball.