At a bare minimum, the Washington Mystics will have two players from their 2019 WNBA championship team in the 2020 Olympics: Emma Meesseman and Kim Mestdagh.
Yes, Elena Delle Donne and Ariel Atkins could play for Team USA, but Delle Donne is injury-prone and Atkins wasn’t in consideration until the Olympic Qualifiers last week. Meanwhile, Natasha Cloud is trying out for the American 3x3 team. So yes, the Mystics could have FIVE Olympians, but for now, we’re just guaranteed two, but I digress.
Earlier this week, one Belgian from Ieper, Meesseman’s and Mestdagh’s hometown, shared photos of Meesseman, Kim Mestdagh, her sister and former Colorado State player Hanne Mestdagh and Philip Mestdagh, the Belgian national team head coach from about 12-13 years ago.
The tweet became an equivalent of a John Wall practice video share in Belgian Dutch-speaking people — in other words, it was viral for them.
Onze sympathieke Ieperse meisjes van toen en hun coach..... naar Olympische Spelen @HanneMestdagh @MestdaghKim @MestdaghPhilip @EmmaMeesseman pic.twitter.com/6L9b9fxOu7— Fakteur (@JGoudeseune) February 10, 2020
So I thought it would be nice to share it as well with our mostly American audience since it’s Thursday. Throwback Thursday, right?
The pictures that were shared come from the time when Meesseman and all the Mestdaghs were with on the youth teams for Blue Cats Ieper, a local club where Emma, Kim and Hanne were playing while Philip was honing his coaching skills. (No pun here on honing, which is the Dutch word for honey.)
I’d say that the Mestdagh ladies haven’t changed too much over the years, especially Kim, mainly because she was of high school age when the photo was taken. Philip has acquired some more gray hairs. But hey, so do I! As they say, gray hair is wisdom!
Now, let’s get to Meesseman. She would have been somewhere between 13-14 years old at the time, had a shorter hairdo, and was noticeably lankier. She even had a story why her hair was down and why her right eye was somewhat covered. She got a black right eye after bumping into Antonia Delaere, another Belgian national team player, back in the day!
Fun fact! I was hiding my black eye and stitches after bumping heads with the one and only Belgian Cat Antonia Delaere 12-13 years ago!!! https://t.co/sG0jiXT0Ei— Emma Meesseman (@EmmaMeesseman) February 11, 2020
The black eye isn’t visible in Meesseman’s picture, but I’m still sort of wondering what it would have looked like at the time. It’s also interesting seeing how everyone in the original tweet has grown since those pictures 12-13 years ago. Everyone is playing professionally, Kim and Meesseman won the WNBA championship last year. And Meesseman is the WNBA MVP.
Philip Mestdagh also grew from being a youth basketball coach to the head coach of the Belgian women’s national team. On top of that he has also coached several professional Belgian women’s basketball teams. Currently, he is coaching Basket Namur Capitale, a Belgian team based in Namur, a city in the country’s southern Francophone region.
Now, all of them are Olympians! In an interview with RTBF, a Francophone Belgian network, Meesseman and Kim Mestdagh noted that they were proud to make the Olympics in women’s basketball for the first time ever in front of their friends.
Enjoy your days everyone!