WNBA player and Phoenix native Sydney Wiese tests positive for COVID-19

Guard Sydney Wiese, a Pinnacle High School product who now plays for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, tested positive for COVID-19 after competing in Spain. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Sydney Wiese knew something wasn’t right.

“I know my body and I don’t get sick that often,” Wiese said. “When I get a cold, I know what that feels like. I know what it’s like to have the flu. This felt different.”

A Phoenix native who plays guard for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA, Wiese tested positive for COVID-19 on March 27. Wiese, who also plays professionally in Spain for Cadi La Seu, was there in early March when she said she just wasn’t feeling right.

“I came back from Spain on Friday the 13th of March and Thursday, the 12th, was when I started to lose my taste and smell,” Wiese said. “I also just randomly got a cold and all of February I had a cold on and off and I was aware that having a cold was one of the main symptoms at the time of the virus. But I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions.”

Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries. As of Wednesday, it had 140,510 confirmed cases and 13,798 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Wiese started to ask the training staff on her Spanish team if tests were available, but says she was told getting one wouldn’t be possible. That’s when the former Pinnacle High School standout decided to return to Phoenix, where her parents still live.

It was in her hometown she took the test, which came back positive.

“When I got back we were being cautious to begin with,” Wiese said. “My mom has plenty of Clorox wipes in the household. She was making sure to clean surfaces. We were washing our hands, non stop. I haven’t even hugged them yet since getting back from Spain. Like we haven’t, we’ve really tried to be mindful.

“Then once I got the test results we amped it up a little bit more, even with cleaning and different precautionary measures, but now it’s more so just asking them how they’re feeling every day, making sure that they’re good to go.”

It’s logical to wonder if her parents were worried that Sydney might transmit what experts are calling the highly contagious virus to them. But her father Troy, 56, said they were just relieved and grateful to have their daughter back home.

“Our goal as parents is to keep them alive more so than us,” Troy Wiese said. “If something bad happens to us, I guess I’d rather something happened to me before my kids. And so it really wasn’t that big a deal. If it happens, it happens.”

Wiese, 24, said she’s been getting better each day. She said while many are concerned with how COVID-19 is affecting sports and athletes specifically, it’s important to recognize this virus is shaking up our whole society, regardless of profession.

“Everybody is being called to sacrifice their own routine and rhythm,” Wiese said. “And not just athletes, I mean everybody across the world is having to uproot what they’re used to. Embrace this new normal. The priority right now is the health and safety of the people and of one another. And so we just gotta continue to make the most of the stillness, the new routine and see what we can get out of it.”

Wiese said it’s troubling watching some millennials and Gen Z members not take the issue seriously enough.

“There’s a balance between fear and respect,” Wiese said. “I think that we should all lean towards, we’re suspecting it, listening to our health officials and understanding that this is just the new normal that we’re facing. It’s temporary, but we all have a hand in protecting one another.”

After attending Pinnacle, Wiese had a standout career at Oregon State, where she became the Pac-12 Conference record holder for career three-pointers made, with 373. She was drafted 11th overall by the Sparks in 2017 and has also played overseas in Australia and Israel.

For the WNBA guard, knowing her current situation is mild has provided her and her family with “the peace of mind” to stay in good spirits. Wiese’s advice to take from her case: be aware as much as possible of this fluid virus.

“Things are changing every day,” Wiese said. “We’re all in the fight together, not just our country but around the world where we’re trying to piece this puzzle together. I don’t think it does any good to panic, but to embrace what it is. Respect the virus, control what we can control.”

Robert Werner

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

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