Photo Story: Carla Thomas joins Sky

It's a busy week for Vanderbilt senior Carla Thomas. With spring semester classes ending this week, like many college seniors, Thomas is finishing up those final papers. But over the weekend, her professional basketball career began with WNBA rookie orientation in Chicago.

Training camp with the Chicago Sky on Sunday, and on Monday morning, Thomas and her new teammates donned their new home uniforms for the team's Media Day. Whitney D attended and shares these photos from the event.

The name "Chicago" conjures up a myrid of mental images, but a logical place to start is on the shore of Lake Michigan. From Navy Pier, the skyline of the city rises in the background.

A few blocks west, the daffodils and tulips are blooming along the "Magnificent Mile", the fabled shopping district along Michigan Avenue.

Just a stone's throw away to the northwest in the gallery district of River North, is the Solheim Center on the campus of Moody Bible Institute. For the second year, that's the home of the Sky's training camp.

If "Moody Bible Institute" sounds at first like an unlikely location for training camp, the feeling quickly evaporates when you see the gym, which looks very much like other training camp facilities. On Monday, the courts were cleared to set up for Media Day, and the local media was invited in to meet the team and Bo Overton, the Sky's new coach.

The Sky backdrops on the far wall gave TV reporters a place to film interviews for television. Team photographers used the temporary photo studio to take official photos for the team's media guide, game programs, and other uses.

College basketball fans might recognize Stacey Dales, who co-anchored ESPN's coverage of the NCAA tournament in March and April. Dales is one of the core of Sky veterans returning from last year's team. Between their other responsibilities on Media Day, the players signed stacks of Sky t-shirts.

#50, Thomas's number throughout her Vanderbilt career, wasn't available, so she adopted #42, the number worn by former Vanderbilt star Jenni Benningfield, who was a senior year Thomas was a freshman.

During the off-season, uniforms across the WNBA were re-designed. The new uniforms feature halter-style shoulders. Unlike the old jerseys, the new ones are designed to be worn tucked in. The Sky's uniforms incorporate elements of the Chicago skyline in their design.

Armintie Price, who completed her eligibility at Ole Miss last month, is another familiar face for SEC women's basketball fans. The Sky had two first round draft picks. Price was chosen with the fourth pick, and Thomas was chosen tenth.

Price's long arms helped her to consecutive SEC Defensive Player of the Year awards, but this wasn't a special pose to show them off. It was a standard pose for all of the players.

In all the Sky drafted four rookies. Besides Price and Thomas, Stephanie Raymond from Northern Illinois was chosen in the second round, and Jenna Rubino from DePaul was chosen in the third round. The four rookies posed for a variety of photos.

After starting with a conventional "smile at the camera" pose, the photographer told them to "work it." With Price as the ring-leader, they tried a variety of alternatives.

The team met on Sunday night, but the first practice session took place on Monday afternoon after the photos, interviews, and lunch were finished. Two-a-days began on Tuesday, and the Sky will play their first exhibition game on May 2 against the Phoenix Mercury. The regular season begins on May 20. For a complete schedule, see Chicago Sky Schedule

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Photos copyright 2007 by Whitney D for Top Stories