The Iso: Arike Ogunbowale


The Players’ Tribune is introducing a new series called The Iso. With so many of us keeping our distance from each other in a variety of ways, we decided to ask some of our favorite athletes to share how they’ve been dealing with life in the Covid-19 world, and how they’re spending their time away from their sport.

Yesterday, Coach McGraw Zoom-called all the Fighting Irish alums. It was at least 50 of us on there — whoever could get on at the time — and said she had some exciting news. Then she told us: She’s retiring.

Now she can finally enjoy what she’s built over all of those years. We stressed her out literally 365 days a year. That’s 365 days a year for 33 years that she’s been thinking about this team. I don’t know what she’s going to do with all this new free time. I need her to go to an island with her husband for at least a month and just enjoy life.

She’s by far the best coach that I’ve had. People got to see a little bit of it when that clip of her at that press conference went viral. You know the one. “We don’t have enough female role models. We don’t have enough visible women leaders. We don’t have enough women in power.”

That’s something that we got for four years. Every woman that’s passed through that program has heard a version of that speech. She gave it just about every day.

To get out of a drill we’d have to correctly answer a women’s history question like, “Who was the first woman to be in the House of Representatives or the Senate?” She would just ask questions like that. If we didn’t answer it right, we’d run. I’d find myself going home and looking up facts just so I could be prepared!

During practices or during games, or whenever she was around us, she was always dropping little nuggets that you could just apply to life. One of her biggest things was, she always always impressed on us the idea that our platforms mattered, that we needed to use them for good, especially for women.

I think she is how she is because her experience coming up in the college system was different from ours. Even early in her career, she dealt with a lot of inequality. That’s why she tries to uplift women as much as she can and be a leader for women.

She has said a lot, but she never had to. I watched her lead by example for four years. And that’s really all I needed.

Now, of course, got to speak on what’s been going on for me during this challenging time.

Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire/Getty Imag

I was in Turkey last month when all the corona stuff began. I was playing in the Turkish league, and they were acting like they didn’t want to cancel yet. All of the teams in other countries were starting to get sent home, but Turkey wasn’t canceling. They finally canceled on the 18th or maybe 17th, and I was on a plane by the 20th.

The flight was … different. It was hectic. You saw a lot of Americans trying to get home from everywhere. And everyone on the plane — flight attendants, everybody — was in masks, which was good, but surreal. It was a confusing time, but I got home.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That’s where I’m quarantined. I’m with family.

Workout, family time, workout. That’s really my day, pretty much. I wake up and go downstairs where we have the elliptical and some weights. I’ll do a little lift with what I can. The mom of one of my old college teammates, she puts this workout together and posts it on her Instagram every day. I usually follow that, and it’s really good — you don’t need a lot of equipment for it.

Me and Mom watch Lifetime a lot. It’s all the same thing. Somebody’s wife gets mad and kills them. Somebody’s mom is crazy. All that good stuff!

I have two dogs, Kobi and Bucki. I’m glad I get this time with them. Bucki’s a toy poodle, and he’s about to be maybe eight years old. And then Kobi’s going to be three. He’s my baby — a goldendoodle. There’s a high school right by where I live with a track and a big field. We walk over there, and they run around.

The real winners in all of this are people’s pets. They’re probably confused about why their owners are home all day now. But I know the pets are happy. My puppy sleeps with me every single day. We play with each other all the time. When I’m working out downstairs, he’s always in my face. We’re not going anywhere, so we get to show them all the love. (Hopefully they are soaking it all in before we’re back to work!)

Can’t really do anything, so I’m definitely chillin’, but I’m also wondering what will happen next. Especially with the WNBA. Training camp was supposed to start on the 26th, so now we are just waiting till it’s safe for everyone involved.

In the sports world, one of the toughest things to think about is the college seniors. It’s terrible. I mean, they don’t get to finish their senior year. They don’t get to do a tournament. They don’t get to walk across the stage. That’s a lot of memories that were just taken from them — just like that.

My advice to them? Try and make the best of it. Be thankful for everything that happened in your college career. It’s tough. It’s really hard to give advice because there’s not a lot of positive that can come out of this situation. You really can’t go back. You can’t. So it’s definitely tough. But you will be remembered, when all of this is said and done. Your legacy won’t be a tourney — it will be the lives that were saved when we closed things down. That’s something that can’t be measured. It’s a positive that we all can hopefully live with.

Keep things level. That’s my personal philosophy on dealing with adversity. I think it’s just the type of person I am. I really don’t get too high or too low. I can always adapt to any situation because, at the end of the day, I trust in God. It’s all in His plan.

Control what you can control. Yeah, you can’t control not being able to play your sport or not being able to do the things you want to do. But you can still control staying up on what you have to do. You can work out on your own, stay in shape. I’m definitely focused on what I can do versus getting upset about what I can’t do.

Keep your head up. This will pass at some point, whether it’s next month, or in the next couple of months. It’s not going to be like this forever. Plan stuff for when this stops because the world’s going to be moving. It’s going to be fun. Everybody’s going to be out. We’re gonna be outside again real soon.