UK markets close in 6 hours 54 minutes
  • FTSE 100

    7,093.90
    +19.84 (+0.28%)
     
  • FTSE 250

    22,684.79
    +25.37 (+0.11%)
     
  • AIM

    1,232.16
    +1.07 (+0.09%)
     
  • GBP/EUR

    1.1713
    +0.0012 (+0.10%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3980
    +0.0016 (+0.11%)
     
  • BTC-GBP

    23,544.91
    -982.17 (-4.00%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    796.73
    -13.46 (-1.66%)
     
  • S&P 500

    4,241.84
    -4.60 (-0.11%)
     
  • DOW

    33,874.24
    -71.34 (-0.21%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    73.56
    +0.48 (+0.66%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,780.50
    -2.90 (-0.16%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    28,875.23
    +0.34 (+0.00%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    28,882.46
    +65.39 (+0.23%)
     
  • DAX

    15,551.53
    +95.14 (+0.62%)
     
  • CAC 40

    6,598.00
    +46.93 (+0.72%)
     

Chelsea Dungee on Making Mom Proud with WNBA Debut After Sacrifices: 'She Did Everything' for Me

·3-min read

Jim Cowsert/NBAE via Getty Chelsea Dungee

Chelsea Dungee's dream is coming true — and she's so grateful for those who helped turn her aspirations into reality.

The rookie WNBA player — who will kick off her first season in the league on Friday night when her Dallas Wings play the Los Angeles Sparks — tells PEOPLE she's "excited" to get the game underway.

"To actually be in the WNBA is just ... I don't even know if it's shocked, but ... it's crazy because it's just a long dream and you've made it to the highest level possible," says the 24-year-old.

Dungee says she was around six or seven when her mom, social worker Chi Dungee, first introduced her to basketball, a former player herself. Her skills were undeniable — in eighth grade, Dungee was offered an athletic scholarship to Oklahoma State University. It was then, the Oklahoma native tells PEOPLE, that it "hit" her: "I really have the potential. This is something that I want to do. I've made my mind up. I'm 100% in. This is it. There's no plan B."

RELATED: Candace Parker on What She'd Change About the WNBA If She Were Commissioner for a Day

Dungee's mom raised her as a single parent, never missing a home game, she recounts. "She made a lot of sacrifices. She gave up her dreams so that I could live out mine. Taking off work to come to games, having to do sponsors all the time to help me," the athlete explains.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

"A lot of times, she could be doing other things to help benefit herself and help her grow, but she didn't," explains Dungee. "She took me to the gym. She worked out with me, ran with me, conditioned with me. Always cooked for me when I got home. Just everything. She did everything. It seems like a sacrifice in every way. But to her when I say thank you for everything, she was like, 'It wasn't a sacrifice. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to do that for you. I wanted to do all those things.' "

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Jim Cowsert/NBAE via Getty Chelsea Dungee

It paid off, and after a year playing at Oklahoma, Dungee transferred and spent the last four years of her college career with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Ahead of the WNBA draft this year, Dungee says she "kind of knew" she'd be selected in the first round but wasn't sure when. Mock drafts led her to believe she wouldn't be picked higher than seventh, but she was still "really excited."

"And then I see my name at five, and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh. That's me,' " she says. "I almost couldn't believe it. I was just so excited. I wanted to come to Dallas. Of all the teams, I wanted to come here."

RELATED: WNBA Star Breanna Stewart Engaged to Marta Xargay Casademont: 'She Said Yes'

Dungee tells PEOPLE she's adjusting well to Texas, as her Amateur Athletic Union basketball team was based out of San Antonio. Training with her new team has been fun, she says, and she's trying to soak up as much information as possible as she adjusts to the different level of play. Overall, she admits, she came into her home "comfortable," already connected on social media with many of her teammates.

RELATED: Candace Parker 'Really Loves' Athletes Speaking Up About Social Injustices: 'Only Way Things Change'

Now, as the WNBA starts its landmark 25th season, Dungee is reflecting on the amazing strides women's sports have made.

"We have a long ways to go, but with the 25th season, it's awesome to be a part of a legacy," she tells PEOPLE. "There's players that we watched growing up, and you idolize those players. You want to grow up and be just like that player. So it's just amazing, and I can't wait to play against people I grew up watching. Now you're playing in the same league. I think it's amazing. Happy that I get to be a part of the 25th season and beyond."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting