Renee Montgomery has accomplished so much in her life that winning an NCAA championship is just the start of her story.
After having an excellent career at UConn, Montgomery was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx. During her time in the WNBA, she won titles in 2015 and 2017.
In February 2021, Montgomery made history by joining an investor group that purchased the Atlanta Dream. With that purchase, she became the first former player to be both a co-owner and executive of a WNBA team.
Even though Montgomery's playing days are over, she still has the mindset of a point guard. At this stage in her life, she's using her experience and platform to assist the next generation of athletes, like those who were honored at the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Award Show this week.
We caught up with Renee Montgomery to discuss her partnership with Gatorade, the greatest achievement of her career and more.
The Spun: Gatorade’s Athlete of the Year Program is the most prestigious high school award in the country - what does it mean for you to be able to support the next generation of athletes?
Renee Montgomery: Shoot, that’s everything. This next generation is going to take what we did and blow it out of the water. They’re going to become entertainers, artists, rappers, whatever they want. There are so many talented athletes out there right now. I want them to know that every player here is their own brand, a big one too. Your brand is aligned with Gatorade - that’s a big thing. I want athletes to know who they are, especially in this NIL era.
The Spun: Speaking of the next generation of athletes, you recently had a sit-down interview with Paige Bueckers. What do you think the ceiling is for a player like her?
RM: I think the sky is the limit. What I love most about 'Paige Buckets' is that she really gets it. She gets it from her standpoint of wanting to give back. No athlete has to do anything - I always emphasize that. When athletes give back, it’s out of the kindness of their hearts. She just wants to be that inspiration to people. We’ve seen people say they’re not role models, and that’s OK. But Paige understands that she wants to be a role model. I really think the sky is the limit for her.
The Spun: You’ve won an NCAA title, two WNBA titles, and you're part of a WNBA ownership group. I know I just threw a lot at you, but what would you say is your greatest achievement thus far?
RM: Probably getting married and starting a family. That’s where everything stabilized for me. All of those other things are great, but they’re all a phase. When you get older you look at things differently. All of those things are huge to me, I wouldn’t change any of them. But getting married and starting a family was amazing. If I had to pick a sports-related achievement, I’d say being a co-owner and vice president of the Atlanta Dream. That’s something that’ll get passed along from generation to generation.
The Spun: You made the official jump from player to owner in 2021. What was your initial reaction to finding out that the purchase of the Atlanta Dream was approved?
RM: It was surreal. I know everybody always says that, but it took me a while to even realize this was for real. I love women’s basketball, and I’ve given my whole life to the game. To continue to serve the game as a co-owner and vice president means everything to me.
The Spun: You’ve had the chance to watch Rhyne Howard all season long. She already has an All-Star appearance under her belt. How impressed have you been with her performance?
RM: I’ve loved it. For a rookie to be an All-Star, that speaks volumes. She came in with goals in mind. She wanted to prove that she really was the No. 1 pick, and clearly, she is who she said she was. I’m excited to see what’s next for her. I think she’s just getting started in the WNBA. She has handled everything that has been thrown her way with class.
The Spun: You recently mentioned that you're excited about the upcoming football season. As someone who grew up a New Orleans Saints fan, I got to ask: What are your expectations for Georgia Football and the Atlanta Falcons?
RM: Let’s start with UGA Football. The whole city and state is feeling good since they’re coming off a national championship. When I declared my fandom for the Falcons, I said that I never had a pro football team to follow because I came from West Virginia. I got to rock with them. You’re asking because you can’t wait to see the Saints beat us [laughs]. Aren’t they playing the first game of the season? So yeah, we’ll find out soon [laughs].
The Spun: What are you hoping to see the Dream accomplish in the final stretch of the regular season?
RM: I think everything from here on out is gravy. We came into this season playing with house money. We’re very hopeful. Right now, we’re sitting at No. 6 in the league. We want to see if we can make a playoff push. But like I said, I think we’re ahead of schedule. If amazing things happen as we continue to build our team, I’m not going to be mad about it.
The Spun: If you could play one-on-one with any basketball player ever, who would it be?
RM: I’m going to go against my high school teammate who never played because then I know I’ll win. What do you want me to go out there and get roasted, Chris? What are you telling me? You want me to pick Maya Moore so she can beat me [laughs]. I’m a pass-first point guard, so I’d be more excited about who I can team up with.
The Spun: That’s fair. So, who would you pick as your teammate for a game of two-on-two?
RM: I need someone pretty versatile. I’m going to go with Tina Thompson. Give me the 3-pointers, give me an inside bucket and give me the red lipstick with it too.
With the second half of the WNBA season officially underway, Renee Montgomery is hopeful the Dream can make a playoff run.
As for her other endeavors, basketball fans can check out Montgomery's passion projects on her various social media platforms.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.