By AFRO Staff

Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud has earned the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award for outstanding efforts in the community throughout the 2018 season and most recent offseason, the WNBA announced today.

The award, which is named in honor of WNBA legend and Hall of Famer Dawn Staley, annually recognizes a player who reflects Staley’s spirit, leadership, charitable efforts, love for the game and inspirational presence in the community.

Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud dribbles the ball during the second half of an WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in Washington. The Mystics won 88-59. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

“Natasha has been an outstanding example of how players value their time spent connecting with the community,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.  “Natasha’s commitment to volunteering is exemplary of how socially conscious WNBA players are and how they continue to excel as role models for the next generation.”

Cloud’s primary focus is working with children, as displayed through her active involvement with youth clinics and education of children on the importance of fitness while promoting participation in youth sports. 

Last July, Cloud and Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE) celebrated “Christmas in July” with underprivileged families at a local Walmart.  Cloud assisted with shopping for school supplies, school uniforms and other educational toys that the families could not afford. In November, Cloud participated in a KaBoom! Playground Build at the Bright Beginnings Center in Southeast D.C., where she helped build a new playground for children from Ward 8, home of the new entertainment and sports arena where the Mystics are playing this year.

Throughout the month of December, Cloud participated in various holiday events including a Dream for Kids Holiday celebration. Cloud was the guest of honor and met with the families of children who had disabilities, helped children decorate cupcakes, and handed out awards to participants. At the end of the month, as part of MSE’s Family-to-Family program, Cloud and other athletes from MSE teams and front office employees delivered Christmas presents to underprivileged families in the D.C. area. 

“We need faces in the community. We let the community know we are here,” said Cloud. “We let them know we want them to support us as much as we want to support them. For me, it was really important to get out to Congress Heights, a predominantly minority community.  It’s important for me as a strong black female athlete to show my face and give young females an aspiration and gateway to something bigger.”

“Natasha’s participation in a myriad of activities that have benefited adults and children in her local community is demonstrative of her commitment to being a servant leader,” said Staley, Head Coach of the University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball team and the USA Basketball Women’s National Team.  “Her selfless attitude and dedication to delivering Christmas to underserved families in D.C. is the epitome of what this award represents.”

Throughout the offseason, Cloud spoke on several panels about her life experiences and the future of sports and coaching. She participated in a service project at Anacostia High School, participated in a panel and worked with students on “Dream Mapping” activities with the objective to encourage students to discover their passion and how to be part of making a change.

A designated committee selected Cloud as the winner of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award from a group of nominated WNBA players. The WNBA will make a $10,000 donation to the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation on behalf of Cloud.