After a long absence professional basketball has returned to San Diego. The San Diego Siege of the National Women¹s Basketball League is making its debut this season at the beautiful new Harry West Gymnasium on the campus of San Diego City College. Competing in the NWBL, a feeder league to the WNBA, the Siege will battle teams from San Jose, San Francisco and Colorado during a short two-month season, which began in mid-February and will conclude with the championship game on March 31.
One of the players that coach Fred Williams will be counting on this season is veteran guard Tynesha Lewis, with five years of experience in the bigger WNBA.
³I like to call myself the ³Team Momma² Lewis said in a recent phone interview. ³I have been in love with this game for the last 16 or 17 years and I have been playing in the WNBA for the last five, so I hope to bring a lot of knowledge to this team.²
Acquired to serve as a leader to a young team that is rich in talent, but lean on top-level experience, Lewis is excited about the challenges awaiting her.
³Regardless of whether I am a leader or not, who I am and how I carry myself doesn¹t change. I try to lead by example and sometimes I fail at that, but that is just part of the game. We have a very unselfish group of young ladies that are willing to do whatever it takes for the good of the team. I think we¹ll have a very good team this year.²
Lewis, one of several strong Christians on the Siege roster, is thrilled to be on a team where so many of the players are united in faith. Lewis¹ walk with God began at an early age.
³I grew up in the church (in Pine Top, North Carolina). About half of my relatives on my mother¹s side are ministers and I have been speaking in churches since I was 14. I am still doing it today,² she added. In the last two years, she has taken her faith to a new level.
³The solidification of my Christian life happened about two years ago,² Lewis said. ³I just came to a point where I became tired of just saying that I was a Christian. I wanted to live like one. There is a big difference. Last year was one of the most life-changing years of my life. I got married and then divorced within a short being of time. Things happen in life sometimes that you don¹t understand. They are out of your control, but you should never lose sight of who is in control. 2005 was the hardest year that I have had both on and off the court. I was in a place where I probably shouldn¹t have survived, but God pulled me through. At times like that you have nothing left but your faith.²
Lewis has often felt God¹s gentle presence. It even happened one time in the middle of a basketball game.
³In my freshman year at North Carolina State we were playing (archrival) North Carolina. It was senior night and I was the only freshman starting on the team. My first five shots were awful and we were down at one point by 17 points. Still, there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to somehow win that game.²
Lewis caught fire in the second half scoring 16 points to trim the Tarheels substantial lead, but still her team trailed. With 18 seconds left, she called for a timeout. While the coaches planned their strategy, she prayed.
³I said Lord, if you give me the opportunity to take this shot, I will make it.² Moments later, she found herself with the ball in scoring position. And true to her word she made the shot and won the game. I think God provides opportunities all the time. How we prepare for them is our responsibility.²
Lewis considers playing basketball a big responsibility. Being in the public eye and being a role model for children, she believes that she has a responsibility to conduct herself in a Christian way.
³I operate my own non-profit (corporation). Through it, I have the opportunity to go to different schools and speak about my life. One question often asked is if I would live my life differently if I was not a professional athlete. I don¹t think so. I have two beautiful godchildren and they are my world. I would never want them to read something about me that wasn¹t positive. So, I think about every decision that I make. I always have to ask myself if I am being a good Christian and if I am being respectful to my parents and to my godchildren.²
One decision she didn¹t agree with was the one former teammate, Sheryl Swoopes, made when she came out and announced in an interview that she was a lesbian.
³I had the opportunity to play with Sheryl for two years in Houston and she is a beautiful person, but (her decision to announce her sexual preference) bothered me,² Lewis said. ³Ever since I started playing basketball the assumption has always been that the players are gay, but it is not like that in this league. People are under the assumption that (female) athletes are all gay, but there are just as many that are straight. In fact, there are a lot more.²
Lewis is not too concerned about the possible fallout from Swoopes decision. She is focused more on her own career and in praising the Lord by developing a deeper and closer relationship with Him.
For additional information, visit www.nwbl.com/siege.