Here I am in Tucson, Ariz., for the espnW Summit. It is such an honor to be asked to be on the panel "Mentorship: How Women Inspire Each Other to Greatness" with one of my idols, Lisa Leslie. Whether she knows it or not, she had a huge influence on me as a person. As the poster child for women's basketball, she exemplifies everything that is good in a women's basketball player: her accomplishments in college and the WNBA, her positive image and her attitude. This is such a great opportunity for me to meet her, learn from her and just really sit back and be a sponge. She has been through everything I am hoping to go through in the future, both professionally and personally.
There comes a time when you realize, "I am actually influencing others' lives." When did I go from just being that girl looking up to Lisa Leslie or Niele Ivey to someone that others know and watch? I guess when you get to a certain level, being a mentor is part of it. I am still maturing in my role as a mentor, as are many college athletes, so to have this opportunity to actually learn from such a diverse group of women is priceless.
When someone looks up to you, you don't want to let them down. I can't wait to ask Lisa how she deals with that pressure, of all eyes being on you and not being able to make a wrong move. I have just gone with my gut and followed my morals, but now is the time to develop into the mentor I want to be.
Two of my personal mentors on the basketball side of life are Candice Wiggins and my coach at Notre Dame, Niele Ivey. I never thought in a million years that I would ever have a conversation with Candice. When we were introduced, we immediately hit it off. During my freshman year, I relied on her to talk me through the growing pains of college life and to be more patient and confident. From her, I take her positive energy. She is always upbeat and optimistic about everything. She is someone that her Minnesota teammates rely on, and that's what I strive to be. She is unselfish, putting her teammates above herself, and not afraid to change her role to help do whatever the team needs to win.
Growing up in South Bend, I always looked up to Coach Ivey when she was playing for Notre Dame. She is one of the faces of the program, now illustrated by the dozens of pictures of her that paint our home arena, Purcell Pavilion. I look to her leadership, will to win, competitiveness and basketball IQ. Her attitude is contagious, not just to all of us Fighting Irish guards, but to our whole team. She has everyone's respect and it's because of who she is. She is honest. Everyone needs a mentor in their life who will not sugarcoat opinions, but will tell you how you can get better and when you are being out of line.
As I am writing this, I keep thinking of how many characteristics a mentor must have -- honesty, respect, expertise, a positive attitude, drive and the list goes on. The best thing for me to do is stick to my morals and be a sponge as I go through this process to influence and mentor the next generation. Lisa Leslie, I am looking to you to help me along this journey.
Skylar Diggins is currently a sophomore guard on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame's basketball team. A South Bend, Ind. native, she was also a McDonald's All-American coming out of high school.