Confidently Karima: Christmas-Kelly's Busy Offseason

Karima Christmas-Kelly discusses life on the mend, from her role as a team leader to a brand-new business venture.

To say the Dallas Wings had an up-and-down 2018 would be putting it mildly. Center Elizabeth Cambage emerged as arguably the most dominant player in the league, setting a single-game record for points scored with 53, but it's not yet known whether she'll return to the team next year. Meanwhile, a lengthy losing streak led to the dismissal of head coach Fred Williams, and injuries piled up to perimeter players as the Wings once again struggled to maintain a defensive identity.

One of those players, Karima Christmas-Kelly, appeared in just six games before undergoing a season-ending knee procedure. The hard-nosed veteran has established a reputation as one of the more durable players in the WNBA, making her condition that much more frustrating. But Christmas-Kelly was able to shine a positive light on things: embracing a leadership role on the bench, further developing her basketball IQ, and even using the inspiration to launch her very own clothing line.

Christmas-Kelly was nice enough to answer a few questions for Hashtag Basketball about her injury, her offseason, and more.

First of all, how is your knee doing? What stage of rehab are you currently at?

My knee is doing very well. Progressing with PT and excited for the stage that I am at right now. Currently I'm running and jumping in the Alter-G machine, but still taking it one step at a time. 

It was quite the season for your Wings. As one of the veterans on an up-and-coming team, was there any way, in particular, you made sure your presence was felt even though you were injured?

When I got hurt, it was an instant blow, but I know it was something that had to be done. I've fought through a lot and I knew this was just another obstacle to get passed. What I wanted more than anything was to have the team still be able to count on me. I was able to come to home games early on and watch from the training room, then get with the team during halftime. Whatever I saw out there on the court, I would relay that message to the team. Even with away games, I would send text messages at halftime and was able to get those to the team as well. 

Was there anything you learned while sitting out? How did your perspectives change, if at all?

I think I learned a lot more patience. It was frustrating to see things happen on the court sometimes, but then it really made me see what our coaches go through when we make unforced mistakes out there on the court. But I think my love and passion for the game grew even more. I haven't had to sit out like this since high school and a knee injury was uncharted waters for me. I think this experience has helped me find myself as a player and person on a deeper level. 

The Wings had a pair of All-WNBA honors this season in Skylar Diggins-Smith and Liz Cambage. How have you seen them develop as star players?

Liz and Skylar have always been amazing players but it was nice to see that combination back together again. From beginning to end I've seen their growth not only on the court, but with their leadership qualities as well. 

What's on the schedule for this offseason?

The schedule for the offseason is just to focus on rehab and get my clothing brand going. This is something that I'm proud of and really hoping to have it reach far and wide. It's based on something so relatable and I want to share a piece of me with others around the world. 

How did ConfidentlyME get started? What's the story behind it?

ConfidentlyME actually started when I got hurt. I wanted something to get my mind off of the surgery and everything that comes after that. I didn't want to be down or worrying about negative things, I wanted to find something that I could work towards. ConfidentlyME is based on promoting confidence and empowerment in women and young girls all over the world. Confidence is something I have struggled with all of my life, and I know it's something that many have struggled with as well, one time or another. But I want them to know that it's okay to push passed that self-doubt and to dream big. As a young kid, I grew up watching the Houston Comets and idolizing Cynthia Cooper, and wanting to be a player that impacts the game as much as she did. Lack of confidence almost kept me back from that a couple of times, but I'm living proof that "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" (my favorite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt). So I'm "Confidently ME, so you can be Confidently YOU" (my tagline). 

What's the future of ConfidentlyME look like? Do you have any specific goals in mind long-term?

I just really want to reach far and wide with this. I've collaborated with some universities and high schools and customized my logo to match their school colors. I want any and every girl to know that they are good enough, and whatever dreams they may have can be obtained. You just have to be confident in all that you do. 

If there's one piece of advice you could give to young women who are struggling with self-confidence, what would it be?

If there are any women or young girls struggling with self-confidence, I just encourage you to be you. You don't have to fit the mold that society sets out for you. Being you and believing in yourself is good enough. Surround yourself with people that are willing to have this type of thought process as well, because positive reinforcement is key!

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Karima! Heal up and see you back on the court soon.

Thank you!

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