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Get Ready for the Golden State Valkyries, Bay Area's New WNBA Team

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Ohemaa Nyanin (left) and Joe Lacob speak at a press conference announcing Nyanin as the team’s new general manager at the Chase Center in San Francisco on May 6, 2024. (Martin do Nascimento/KQED)

The WNBA’s 28th season tips off on Tuesday, but Bay Area basketball fans already have their eyes on next year as the Golden State Valkyries, the league’s newest franchise, unveiled its team name, logo and colors.

Named after the female warriors who rode horses and carried swords onto battlefields to guide slain fighters to Valhalla in Norse mythology, the WNBA’s Valkyries will step onto the basketball court to play their inaugural season in 2025.

The team will wear violet and black uniforms with a V-shaped logo depicting the Bay Bridge. According to a team press release, “the bridge tower doubles as a sword — a symbol of courage, power and authority.”

The Valkyries are the first WNBA expansion team since 2008, joining the league’s existing 12 teams as the popularity of women’s basketball soars. They will play at the Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors became the sixth NBA franchise to have a WNBA team with their announcement in October 2023.

Golden State will start play as women’s basketball has reached unprecedented heights thanks to players such as Caitlin Clark, a flamethrowing guard who scored more points — 3,951 — than any college player, woman or man, in history. Clark led Iowa to the championship game of this year’s NCAA tournament before falling to South Carolina, which went undefeated to claim its third title in program history.

More than 24 million people tuned in, making it the most-watched basketball game — college or professional, men’s or women’s — since 2019. It was also the first time more viewers tuned into a women’s final than a men’s. Clark, who will start her professional career with the Indiana Fever, was the top pick in the WNBA draft.

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Ohemaa Nyanin, named general manager last week, will build the Valkyries. Nyanin, who previously served as the New York Liberty’s assistant general manager, will oversee all basketball operations for the team.

She was the second woman to join the WNBA expansion team since it was announced last October. Jess Smith was named the squad’s president in January. Soon after, construction began on women’s locker rooms at both Chase Center and the Oakland Arena. The team has already garnered 7,500 deposits for season tickets, according to the New York Times.

Bonnie Morris, a professor of women’s sports history at UC Berkeley, believes increasing leadership roles for women in college basketball has contributed to the league’s success. She said doing the same in the WNBA is key.

“The participation of women and girls in sports has exploded, but we don’t see women dominating in leadership,” Morris said. “In the next generation, what we’re going to see is more women leading athletic departments at universities, and that will make a big difference in terms of athletic dollars going into women’s sports.

“That is very much part of the role that universities play in helping women into professional careers as athletes as well.”

Ohemaa Nyanin (center) and Joe Lacob (left) at a press conference announcing Nyanin as the team’s new general manager at the Chase Center in San Francisco on May 6, 2024. (Martin do Nascimento/KQED)

In 2023, women held 75% of head coaching positions in the WNBA.

Nyanin previously worked as USA Basketball’s assistant director of the women’s national team and serves as FIBA America’s World Cup Qualifier Technical Delegate and Manager. During her time with the Liberty, she helped the team to three playoff appearances, including in the WNBA finals last season.

The Liberty are led by two of the game’s best, Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu. During the 2024 NBA All-Star weekend, Ionescu had a thrilling three-point shooting exhibition with the Warriors’ Stephen Curry.

In the coming months, Nyanin’s priority will be hiring a head coach. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced earlier this year that she anticipates an expansion draft — when Golden State will be given the opportunity to nab players from existing franchises — in December.

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