A semi-pro women’s basketball league is now playing in Nashville, Tennessee. The She Got Game League is not your typical Semi-Pro basketball league. This is an organization dedicated to empowering young and adult women and helping them to gain self-confidence and some well-deserved exposure.
“It’s basically a league that I created for women to get more exposure and to give them the opportunity to present themselves to other coaches and agents because women don’t really get the exposure that they deserve,” says Celia Newman who founded the She Got Game League in 2019 in Memphis.
“I give the proceeds back in a scholarship at the end of each season to either a program or to a high school athlete,” said Newman. “The mission is that I want to give back to not only women but girls in particular.”
The organization is not a recreational league, each lady will have to have experience in playing basketball and you have to be at least 18 years or older and will need to have played high school basketball and or college basketball. “It’s very competitive, it’s like Semi-pro,” Newman said. “It’s not rec or beginners at all.”
The semi-pro women’s basketball organization consists of four leagues in the various cities of Memphis, Nashville, Houston, and Chicago. The organization will expand to Little Rock, AR this month. The season spans the course of eight weeks.
Former Hillsboro High School basketball player Jessica Pace is the league commissioner of the Nashville League. There were six teams that made up the Nashville League for the spring season (March-May): Team Trouble, Team Vibe, Primetime, Free Agents, Super Gremlins, and Team 615. There were 8-11 players for each team.
The She Got Game Nashville League was formed in 2021, already having two seasons under its belt. The third season for Nashville will start back up in August. This past season, and with the playoffs being single-elimination games, the ladies of Team Trouble beat Team Vibe to win the league championship. Both of the top two teams went on to play the top two teams out of the Memphis League. Team Vibe (second place) played the Lady Tigers (She Got Game Memphis League second place team), and Team Trouble played the Arkansas Elite (She Got Game Memphis League first place team).
“This year was just a match-up,” said Pace. “We do have a goal for next season of creating a big championship for all of the cities that we have, so it will be more of a tournament style then.”
After Hillsboro High School, Pace played one year at UT-Martin, then she transferred to Cumberland University and went on to play for three years. After graduating from college she went on to coach for one season at Columbia State Community College for one season. After Columbia State Community College she came back to Cumberland University to coach for four years. She has also coached AAU as well and has done individual training. “Basketball has been a part of my life forever,” said Pace. “I started playing when I was eight years old.”
There were two former WNBA players that played in the spring season. Jasmine Hassell and Dawn Evans both played on Primetime for the Nashville league. Both Evans and Hassell played one season in the WNBA.
The She Got Game League as a whole typically plays twice a year. Once in the spring (March-May) and in the fall (August-October). “Our open runs will be in July,” said Pace. “The season will start mid to late August.”
The league does not have to worry about if there are players who won’t be returning as the returning percentage has so far been a success.
“We typically have about 85% returners, most people come back, again this is our second season, so pretty much everybody who played last season come back, “ Says Pace. “I anticipate we will have more new faces this year because a lot of people in the city are still learning about it.”
No player is turned down by a team. Although there are no tryouts to join a team, anyone can make it and will be able to play.
“There aren’t any tryouts, it’s pretty much a lot of people use open gyms to come and play, they meet people and see who they want to be on their team with,” Says Pace. “Some people can register as a whole team, a collective team already. Some people can register as free agents and we can find a team for them. No tryouts, literally anybody can make it, anybody who registers can play.”
For She Got Game Nashville, social media is crucial in staying up to date on when to come to an open gym.
“Follow our social media page, that’s where we post all of our updates for open gyms and when registration links are available,” said Pace.
Currently, there are twelve teams that make up the WNBA. In years to come, will Nashville get its own WNBA team? Only time will tell as Pace is excited about the possibility.
“The WNBA is looking to expand and Nashville has made the shortlist, we are trying to do what we can to let them see that Nashville does have a desire for women’s basketball,” says Pace. “The more faces and the more eyes that we can get on She Got Game will be great.”
For more information and also links to their social media handles, visit their website shegotgameleague.com.