CHICAGO — Take a scroll through the hashtag #QuarantineQuigleyChallenge on Twitter and you'll discover an impressive collection of trick shots while sitting on the ground.
A girl calls bank, shoots the ball over her head from the 3-point line and knocks the bank shot without looking back. One shoots while sitting inside a kayak, another while laying in a hammock. A few people show off their soccer skills, kicking the basketball over their head and through the hoop. Another juggles three basketballs before knocking down a shot over her head.
When Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley first channeled her inner-Pete Maravich with a sit-down shot during the "H-O-R-S-E" tournament between stars from the NBA and WNBA earlier this month, she never envisioned this kind of response.
"They're so much better than mine were," Quigley said with a laugh during a phone interview Thursday.
Quigley wasn't sure from whom she drew the inspiration — perhaps a suggestion from one of her siblings or something she saw on a YouTube video — but when the three-time WNBA All-Star and two-time winner of the 3-point contest first attempted the sit-down shot on the portable hoop in her yard — a hoop ordered from Target a few weeks ago — it came easily. She knew she had a weapon for the competition.
It would help her knock off Thunder guard Chris Paul in a first-round matchup, and although Bulls guard Zach LaVine eliminated her in the semifinals, Quigley's creative shot selection and sharpshooting skills made her a standout in an otherwise banal competition.
Then, shortly after the tournament, Quigley started getting videos from people attempting trick shots. It prompted her to begin the Quarantine Quigley Challenge, asking for fans to send in their best trick shots for a chance at a signed jersey and photo.
Initially, Quigley planned to pick out the best shot by Friday to award a winner, but instead she's going to pick a top three because it was too difficult for her to choose just one.
That creativity stands out immediately while scrolling through the submissions, but it's also apparent just how many young girls Quigley inspired, flooding the hashtag with some impressive shots.
"It takes me back to when I was their age," she said. "A lot of them are in high school and middle school, it seems. That would've been totally me if social media was a thing then. Because I know when the WNBA came or any visible female athletes I was exposed to, I wanted to go out and be just like them. To be able to have that influence on them is pretty cool."
Without a lot of visible representation for female athletes while growing up, most of the players Quigley gravitated toward were local high school stars when she was in grade school or the DePaul women's team when she started getting recruited in high school, including current YES Network reporter Sarah Kustok, whom Quigley joined on the NBA's Instagram Live account this week.
But Quigley remembers being in eighth grade during the inception of the WNBA and rushing to buy jerseys of her favorite players, such as Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie and Cynthia Cooper. Or when her parents made the drive to South Bend, Ind., to watch Notre Dame whenever Diana Taurasi and Connecticut came to town.
"If it wasn't there, I really don't think I would've thought I could do it," Quigley said. "I wouldn't have went outside and practiced my moves or practiced as hard because maybe I would think, oh, I'm going to be done after high school. There's really no future in this.
"But just being able to see that, it just gives you that much more motivation, energy, your love for the game gets stronger. It's just so important because it can literally start a dream."
That's why Quigley makes it a point to try to sign as many T-shirts or to stop and talk to as many fans as she can, especially young girls. Sometimes she's still startled to see people wearing her jersey or that of her wife and Sky teammate Courtney Vandersloot, even as they shout out the Sky during their videos for the contest.
And it stuck with her when three girls from France, who had seen Quigley play in Europe during the WNBA offseason, showed up to a Sky game in Chicago.
"I was that person, I was that girl, just looking for inspiration and just loving the game," Quigley said. "Just being so inspired by the older players. When I do see them, I just see myself, and it makes me happy to know that I can give back in that way."
Quigley's challenge offered a way for fans to get out of their house and do something active amid the coronavirus pandemic, and she has garnered a lot more media attention from the "horse" competition.
She is hopeful, even with the uncertainty surrounding the WNBA season — like the rest of the sports world — the interest can carry over.
"It takes like a quarantine or this crazy time in our live for people to notice women's sports or to get us a little bit more on the map than before," Quigley said. "I'm hoping that through this, maybe something good can come out of it. Hopefully if we have a season, whether it's with fans or not, we can … grow our game a little bit more."
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