WASHINGTON, D.C. - Washington Mystics guard, and former Saint Joseph's standout, Natasha Cloud '14 was named the recipient of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award for outstanding efforts in the community throughout the 2018 season and most recent offseason, the WNBA announced this week.
The award, which is named in honor of WNBA legend and Hall of Famer Dawn Staley, annually recognizes a player who reflects Staley’s spirit, leadership, charitable efforts, love for the game and inspirational presence in the community.
"Natasha has been an outstanding example of how players value their time spent connecting with the community," said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. "Natasha’s commitment to volunteering is exemplary of how socially conscious WNBA players are and how they continue to excel as role models for the next generation."
"It is very exciting and rewarding to see one of our former players, Natasha Cloud, doing great things in the community and being recognized by one of the all time greats in Dawn Staley," said SJU head coach Cindy Griffin. "At Saint Joseph’s we recognize the importance and the impact of serving our communities and Tash has carried on that tradition and is a superstar!"
Cloud’s primary focus is working with children, as displayed through her active involvement with youth clinics and education of children on the importance of fitness while promoting participation in youth sports.
In July 2018, Cloud and Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE) celebrated "Christmas in July" with underprivileged families at a local Walmart. Cloud assisted with shopping for school supplies, school uniforms and other educational toys that the families could not afford. In November, Cloud participated in a KaBoom! Playground Build at the Bright Beginnings Center in Southeast D.C., where she helped build a new playground for children from Ward 8, home of the new Entertainment and Sports arena where the Mystics are playing in 2019.
Throughout the month of December, Cloud participated in various holiday events including a Dream for Kids Holiday celebration on Dec. 8. Cloud was the guest of honor and met with the families of children who had disabilities, helped children decorate cupcakes, and handed out awards to participants. At the end of the month, as part of MSE’s Family-to-Family program, Cloud and other athletes from MSE teams and front office employees delivered Christmas presents to underprivileged families in the D.C. area.
Cloud also spoke on several panels about her life experiences and the future of sports and coaching during the offseason. She participated in a service project at Anacostia High School, participated in a panel and worked with students on "Dream Mapping" activities with the objective to encourage students to discover their passion and how to be part of making a change.
"We need faces in the community. We let the community know we are here," said Cloud. "We let them know we want them to support us as much as we want to support them. For me, it was really important to get out to Congress Heights, a predominantly minority community. It’s important for me as a strong black female athlete to show my face and give young females an aspiration and gateway to something bigger."
"Natasha’s participation in a myriad of activities that have benefited adults and children in her local community is demonstrative of her commitment to being a servant leader," said Staley. "Her selfless attitude and dedication to delivering Christmas to underserved families in D.C. is the epitome of what this Award represents."
Selected 15th overall by the Washington in the 2015 WNBA Draft, Cloud is currently in her fifth season with the Mystics. Helping the Mystics to the top spot in the Eastern Conference this season after guiding them to the WNBA Finals in 2018, Cloud recently set a new team record for career assists (593).
Among the top players in Hawk history, Cloud capped her three-year career having led SJU to two NCAA Tournament appearances (2013, 2014), a pair of Big 5 titles (2014, 2015) and the 2013 Atlantic 10 Championship. Coming to Hawk Hill after playing at Maryland as a freshman, the 6-foot-guard etched her name in Saint Joseph's record books numerous times as she finished third all-time in assists (582), ninth in steals (174), 16th in rebounds (535) and 20th in points (1,049).
One of only eight players in A-10 history to be named to its All-Defensive Team three times, Cloud was selected to the A-10 All-Conference First Team this past year after finishing among the national leaders in assists per game (6.6) and averaging a career-best 12.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Named a Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List Finalist and selected to the Naismith Trophy Watch List, she led her team in assists, steals (53) and minutes played (1,126), while finishing as the team's top scorer in 11 games and the top rebounder in six contests.
A designated committee selected Cloud as the winner of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award from a group of nominated WNBA players. The WNBA will make a $10,000 donation to the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation on behalf of Cloud.