Earlier this summer, the St. Louis Surge women’s professional basketball team took home a national championship in the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League. There are 34 teams from across the United States that compete in the league.
Khalia Collier, the owner and general manager of the St. Louis Surge, said that the team has earned “quite the fan base.” She started the team five years ago.
“We’ve gained a tremendous amount of momentum in the past five years we’ve been here, in the St. Louis market,” Collier said. “We got a fantastic welcome home from the St. Louis Cardinals celebrating our national championship. We have been drawing 2-3,000 per game and it is only growing for us.”
Head Coach Tony Condra has helped the Surge take home two national championships in the past three years. This year, the team’s record was 13-2.
“Women play with more passion,” Condra said. “They go after it, they go get it. They put on a show, but there’s not much showboating. There’s a difference.”
The St. Louis Surge plays home games at UMSL and currently only recruits 4-5 players out of state. The rest come from St. Louis and Illinois-area universities.
“We can’t have a powerhouse team without powerhouse locals,” Collier said.
Collier has crafted the team with intention, guided by the rule “if we can’t put you on an elementary school poster, you won’t play for us.” The team plays in the spring and summer. This leaves room for half the roster to play overseas (places like Belgium, Hungary, Poland and Japan), where the paychecks are bigger in women’s sports. The other half build careers in the St. Louis area through college education or jobs with the team’s sponsors, like Ameren, Mastercard, World Wide Technology or Maritz.
“We start, personality first,” Condra said. “Our rule is: if you can’t sit down at the dinner table with our family, you can’t be part of the St. Louis Surge family. Personality first and then we take that to the basketball court. You can have a tremendous athlete with a bad attitude. It won’t work in our organization. Personality first, basketball second. That’s how we recruit.”
St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh sat down with Collier and Condra to discuss the team’s challenges, triumphs and what’s next:
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