GRAND RAPIDS, MICH - "After my research, nothing existed for women so I thought let's attack it," said CEO of the Grand Rapids Galaxy, William Kelly.
That's when Kelly came up with the idea for a women's professional basketball team that works as a feeder team to the Chicago Sky.
"I felt like we have a platform to create something positive for women," said Kelly.
As he looked more into the logistics and staffing, he knew he had to reach out to a person he calls a local legend.
"Seeing the passion in her eyes and pretty much her life experience kind of matched my vision," said Kelly.
Nikki Thompkins played high school basketball at Creston, before playing four years at Central Michigan.
Her college career ended before the WNBA existed, so she packed her bags and headed overseas. She played eight seasons in various countries, ending in Switzerland. During that time, the WNBA came about and Nikki got a call.
"I had the opportunity to try out for the Detroit Shock," said Thompkins. "I didn't miss. They invited me to training camp, I was on the roster, I was excited."
After all the wear and tear on her knees, Nikki's playing career ended almost a decade after college.
"I still haven't hung up my shoes officially," said Thompkins.
When the opportunity to coach came up in Grand Rapids, she jumped. "This is my hometown so obviously I want to be a part of it."
Nikki and Will both want to give these women the opportunity to keep a dream alive.
"After their high school and college career are done they don't have to put the basketball away," said Thompkins. "Nothing is easy around here. I'm going to light a fire under them, because I still have passion for the game but physically I'm not able to play, so I'm like 'you have the opportunity to do this, I'm going to need you to give all you got.'"
Nikki's passion runs deep, and she hopes her experiences can inspire some of the girls she now coaches.
"What we do is a testament to her story," said Kelly.
The Galaxy ended their season one win shy of a Regional Championship. They spent most of the 2017 season ranked second in the nation. The league they're currently in includes more than 60 teams.
For more information on the Galaxy and their season click here.
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