The GIST’s Quote of the Week

“To put it politely, I think it’s a hard no.”
— Toronto Raptor Danny Green on whether the Toronto Raptors will be visiting the White House after winning the NBA Championship.

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The bid is in

The GIST: You heard it here first! A bid to bring a WNBA team to Toronto is finallyhappening.
 
This sounds AMAZING! Give me the deets: Daniel Escott and Max Abrahams, two young entrepreneurs who are passionate about basketball, gender diversity and Canada, are formally announcing their bid to bring a WNBA franchise to Toronto.
 
How does bidding for a team work?: We’re not going to sugarcoat it ⁠— it’s a v. long, intense process, and nothing is guaranteed. Escott and Abrahams have already put together a WNBA Toronto Bid Leadership Committee, ⁠surrounding themselves with former Olympians and authorities in the sports industry.

  • They are still looking at closing their fundraising round (because it costs a fair chunk of change to start a new team), and from there, they’ll create a more formal ownership group.

  • They will also have to lobby the WNBA and NBA to win approval to bring a team to Toronto.

So when can we expect a Toronto team?:Again, nothing is guaranteed, but it’s Escott and Abrahams’s goal to have a team ready to play in Toronto by spring 2020. It’s an audacious goal, but we are so about it.

What else should I know?:A lot. And we have you covered. Last week, The GIST sat down with Escott and Abrahams to learn more about what it means to bring the WNBA not only to Toronto, but to Canada, and how us fans (we’re looking at you!) can help. Read our interviewhere.

The bigger picture:By the age of 14, girls drop out of organized sports attwice the rate of boys. One of the main reasons girls are dropping out? Because of a lack of positive role models in sports.

  • We know that playing sports can positively affect a female athlete’s relationship with her family and friends, and can influence her self-esteem and future career. So it goes without saying that a WNBA team in Canada is not only incredibly welcome, but also incredibly needed.

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Mama said knock you out

The GIST: The FIFA Women’s World Cup round of 16 (aka playoffs) began on Saturday, with Canada’s first knockout game today at 3 p.m. ET. Starting to feel that nervous excitement? Same.

What happened in the knockout round this weekend?: There were no major upsets: Germany (world-ranked No. 2) beat Nigeria (No. 38), England (No. 3) beat Cameroon (No. 46), and France (No. 4) beat Brazil (No. 10) and all-time top World Cup scorer Marta. However, things did get dramatic AF in the Norway (No. 12) and Australia (No. 6) game.

  • At the end of the game, things were all tied up at 1–1. If the game ends in a tie in the knockout round, 30 minutes of overtime is played. If no team scores in overtime, the game is decided by anxiety-inducing penalty kicks. And that’s exactly what went down.

  • Norway dominated the penalty kicks, scoring all four of their shots, while the Aussies let the pressure get to them and scored only one goal. It’s the first time Norway is advancing to the World Cup quarterfinal since 2007. No-way!

Tell me about Canada vs. Sweden: No. 9 ranked Sweden placed second in Group F after losing 2–0 to the U.S.A. last Thursday. Canada (No. 6) has played Sweden 20 times, going 5-12-3 (wins, losses, ties), and most recently tied the Swedes 0–0 at the Algarve Cup in March.

  • The last time Canada played the U.S. was in October 2018, where they also lost 2–0. All to say, this game is going to be a v. close, hard-fought battle. We haven’t felt this nervous and excited since our first middle-school dance.

Want more deets?: Of course, you do. Sign up for our pre-game GIST email! An hour before each of Canada’s games, you’ll get #thegist on things like: who they’re playing, where they’re playing, players to watch, storylines and everything in between. See you soon!

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What do you have on draft?

The GIST: Both the NBA and the NHL entry drafts finished up this weekend while the NHL had a couple of trades mixed in too.

Quick, remind me, what’s an entry draft?: An entry draft is when teams, in a predetermined order, take turns choosing young, up-and-coming players to add to their roster.

Got it. How did the NBA’s go?: To no one’s surprise, Duke superstar and Nike shoe-buster Zion Williamson went No. 1 to the New Orleans Pelicans, Ja Morant went No. 2 to the Memphis Grizzlies and our very own Canadian-bred, RJ Barrett (who had an awesome Canadian-inspired suit) went No. 3 to the NY Knicks.

  • What might be the biggest deal of them all is that six (!!!) Canadians were drafted Thursday night, setting the record for any country other than the U.S. Heck yes.

In other NBA news: As expected, Toronto Raptor Kawhi Leonard has declined his $21.3M player option, to become an unrestricted free agent (meaning he can sign with any team). But, apparently, Kawhi is seriously considering re-signing with Toronto (we should know by June 30th where Kawhi will play). Seriously considering!!!

How did the NHL draft go?: Also unsurprising, American Jack Hughes went No. 1 to the New Jersey Devils and Finn Kaapo Kakko went No. 2 to the New York Rangers.

What about those NHL trades?: There were some MAJOR trades, including star defenceman P.K. Subban being traded from the Nashville Predators to the New Jersey Devils and veteran Patrick Marleau is moving from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Carolina Hurricanes.

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Hockey Royalty

The GIST: On Tuesday, Canadian hockey legend, Hayley Wickenheiser became just the seventh woman (of 280 players) named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Captain Canada of the hockey world: Wickenheiser retired in 2017 as probably the greatest women’s hockey player to ever hit the ice.

  • She won five Olympic medals (four golds and a silver) and seven world championships with Team Canada and is the team’s all-time leader in goals and assists. She truly put women’s hockey on the map.

  • Many players spend years waiting for a call from the Hall, but this was Wick’s first year of eligibility, a true tribute to her importance to the sport.

  • P.S. if you have two minutes to spare, watch co-founder Ellen give #thegist on this iconic moment and what it means for women in sport on CTV News.

The rest of the class: She’ll be joined by hockey greats Guy Carbonneau, Vaclav Nedomansky and Sergei Zubov and builders Jim Rutherford and Jerry York. More on these guys here.

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Ping!

The GIST: Australian Hannah Green won the 2019 Women’s PGA Championship this weekend, with a score of 9-under-par, and took home the $577K winner’s check.

  • It’s the first time that 22-year-old Green has ever won a major championship, and get this: she led from wire-to-wire (meaning from the first round to the fourth and final round).

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What's Up This Week

Monday to Wednesday: The Toronto Blue Jays are off to NY to face the Yankees. The Jays are 29-49 this season and are very much working on their rebuild.

All week: It’s the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Get the schedule here. Reminder, Canada plays today at 3 p.m. ET.

Join us IRL in Leveling the Playing Field: We are partnering with non-profit Right To Playto host an event to kick-off the summer in style! Join us on Thursday, June 11th as we have a lively discussion with guests Rosie MacLennan, Kate Beirness and Anastasia Bucsis, followed by some games and a relaxing guided meditation.

Spots are going fast! Click here for more info and to purchase your ticket. All proceeds are donated to Right To Play.

Calling The Next Gen of Female Leaders: Speaking of Kate Beirness… Beirness’s HER MARK summit is happening on Saturday, July 20th, and nominations are now open! This event is for female high school students across Canada who have demonstrated outstanding leadership (in sports or in any other field) in their schools and communities. Know a gal? Of course, you do! Nominate her through this v. quick form.