Chelsea Lane, Golden State Warriors
Chelsea Lane may not be on the Golden State Warriors coaching staff like Nakken is with the Giants or Sowers is with the 49ers, but her presence and absence have been felt.
Lane was born in Australia, where she graduated from Brown Mackie College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in 2014. Prior to joining the Warriors, she worked as a physical therapist in several sports, including rugby and track and field.
Lane joined the Warriors as a head performance therapist in 2015, and she was quickly elevated as the physical performance lead in 2016.
While her work on the training staff was mostly behind-the-scenes, she played a critical role in treating a number of Warriors stars, including Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala and getting them back onto the court.
Her influence was so significant that she was often referred to as their “secret weapon.” Though, she was not a coach, the 39-year-old was one of the key figures on the Warriors sidelines every game.
Curry elaborated on what makes Lane special in an interview with Marcus Thompson ll of The Athletic:
"“She’s great in both the physical and the mental, which is something that’s underrated. There are ways you can approach injuries and the rehab process that keeps you engaged as opposed to it being work. There’s always a positive to learning something about your body and how it functions. For me, at least, that’s something I appreciate the most. You’re going to ice. You’re going to (get stimulation treatment). You’re going to do this workout, do that workout, get this treatment. There is more to it than that. She’s big picture.”"
The Warriors were dealt a significant blow following the 2018 season when Lane agreed to become the Executive Director of Athletic Performance and Sports Medicine with the Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks gain was a noticeable loss for the Warriors. While the Warriors made it to the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors in 2019, they limped to the finish line.
Major leg injuries to both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson late in the series proved to be too big of an obstacle for even the Warriors to overcome and the Toronto Raptors won in six games.
In addition, Kevon Looney and DeMarcus Cousins continuously battled injuries throughout the 2019 playoff run.
It is no coincidence that many key Warriors battled injuries and ultimately struggled to stay on the court at the end of the 2019 playoffs in the first season following Lane’s departure.
Due to her role, Lane was rarely in the spotlight, but she has nonetheless helped carve out a future for women in a male-dominated sport.
The Bay Area is quickly becoming a boon for women in professional sports. Nakken, Sowers, and Lane are leading the charge as teams are making a push for more diversity. And not just for the sake of diversity, but because they are the best suited for the jobs they currently hold.
In professional sports, males dominate just about every facet of an organization. However, a growing number of women are beginning to carve out their own niche. This is just the start, but this is what progress looks like.