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Jayda Evans covers college and pro women's basketball. While its her first year on the Washington beat, she has covered the Storm since its inception. She'll offer observations, critiques, occasional off-beat tales and answers to select e-mail inquires. Evans also has written a book on the Storm and women's hoops, called "Game On!"

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July 5, 2007 6:17 PM

Star-Spangled ritual

Posted by Jayda Evans

Ever wonder what athletes think about during the national anthem? I have simply because they hear it so much more than the average person. Dawn Staley, who retired from the WNBA last season, said the anthem obviously takes on more meaning at the Olympics but sometimes you can drift during the regular season.

My father played ball and once told me that he used to count the stars on the flag and that's how many points he'd have that night. "I'd slow down when I got to 30," he joked. So, I decided to ask a few WNBA players if they have any routines. Here are some responses collected the past two summers:

"I thank God for the opportunity and then at the end I say 'hello' to my teammate Kim Perrot; kiss my hand, then my heart and give her a little wave to let her know that I'll always miss her," said Houston forward Tina Thompson. Perrot helped the Comets win their inaugural two championships before dying of cancer in 1999.

"I like to see how long it takes them to sing it," Detroit guard Denna Nolan said. "Some of them make it last a long time. I use the game clock to time it. One time it was four minutes. I was like, 'Dang!'"

"I know the words now, but I don't sing them," said Storm forward Lauren Jackson, an Australian native. "I visualize my shot. My old coach, when I was 14, used to have us do that. She'd turn off the lights and have us visualize our shots. I still do it."

"I just pray," Phoenix forward Tangela Smith said.

"I stand the same way and wish for no injuries on either team and, if I have people coming to the game, that they get there safely," Connecticut guard Lindsay Whalen said.

"In Seattle, we're usually in the same spot, so I time it so that I look up and see this blue light and when it goes in my eyes, I look away," Storm guard Sue Bird said. "It's a habit."

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