What I did on my Summer Olympics Break, by Alana Beard

Taught kids to swim, did some coding, built a house … you know … the usual

While Team USA basketball headed to Rio (to dominate and play for the gold Saturday night vs. France), the WNBA has been on Summer Olympics break. Yippee! Time for the beach and piña coladas, right!? Nope. Not for Alana Beard.

She is already the definition of a Renaissance woman — not only kicking butt at Duke, being selected as the second overall draft pick in 2004 for the Washington Mystics, and achieving four-time All-Star status with the L.A. Sparks — but also because she always has something cool going on beyond basketball. This hustler always has a side hustle. Take coding, for example:

“Coding is something I have always been intrigued by,” she says, after learning the skill last fall. “I would always come up with app ideas, but knew I would have to depend on someone else to build it for me. So, I decided to teach myself. From the moment I sat down at the computer, I was in love. I was in love with how simple, yet complex it is. In love with the idea of building something out of nothing. This is the way of our future, so why not teach myself something that could be useful years from now!”

Thanks, Alana. Now we feel lazy.

OK, back to her summer break. While taking some time away from the court, she’s chosen the *pool* instead — and not the lounging-around-in-retirement-like-Michael-Phelps kind of pool either.

And no, Alana isn’t looking to compete herself and go for Katie’s and Simone’s gold. … Her interest in swimming started way before Rio.

In 2010, Beard’s hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, witnessed a great tragedy when six teenagers drowned while wading in the Red River. “I remember my heart being extremely sad for the families involved,” she says. “Sad for the lives that were taken but also sad knowing that lives could have been saved if someone had acquired water skills at some point in their life. It touched me because it could have been me or someone close to me. I have always enjoyed being around water. I paddle board, jet ski, go to the beach often, all while knowing I wouldn’t be able to save myself or anyone with me if I had to at the time.”

The event made Beard think more about water safety, as she learned how to swim later in life, as well. Six years after the tragic event, with the help of the USA Swim Foundation, Beard hosted a four-day swim safety event for kids at a Shreveport-area YMCA last month. “Learning to swim was a challenge I thrived on from the beginning,” she says. “I ignored all the doubts and allowed my body and mind to be in sync.” And she shared that All-Star attitude with these young swimmers in Shreveport — giving them a wonderful story for their “What I did on MY Summer Vacation” report, too.

Oh and by the way, this week Alana also helped build a house.

Thanks, Alana. Now we’re tired.

After her basketball career is over, Beard plans to continue moving forward with this initiative—as well as her new-found love of coding.

“I hope to have created a successful program that raises awareness about the importance of swimming and water skills,” she shared with us. “Along with the swimming program, my goal is also to empower youth through coding.”

But that’s not all. I mean, did you expect it to be?

In October she’ll be opening a Mellow Mushroom franchise in Roanoke, Virginia. If you think this sounds random, think again. (Also, have you tried their pizza!? It’s insane.)

Thanks, Alana. Now we’re hungry.

Hear it straight from the Renaissance woman herself: “My goal is to build a business portfolio that’s very similar to the great Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson.”

We never thought we’d say it but we’re suddenly excited for Alana Beard to retire …


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