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Pattern Magazine - Jeanette Pohlen Interview

How long does it take an Indiana transplant to become a Hoosier at heart? If the Fever’s Jeanette Pohlen is anything to go by, it takes less than three years. “I’m someone who loves to grow roots wherever I live,” she says. “I definitely had the choice to live elsewhere, but I like it here just fine.”

Pohlen was selected ninth overall by the Fever in the 2011 WNBA draft. Her high draft position capped off an impressive collegiate career at Stanford University, including four straight Final Four appearances and three consecutive trips to the championship game. Pohlen carried that run straight into her freshman season in the WNBA, when she helped the Fever win the 2012 title.

“That was a special year,” she says. “ We could all feel that we had something really good going on here, and it showed.”

Unfortunately, she sustained an injury that year in the Finals, and then was injured again last season. She is currently working through physical therapy to get back on the court. That hasn’t kept her from exploring Indy in her free time, which she says has not stopped evolving in the three years that she has lived here.

“So much has changed,” she says. “It’s practically night and day from when we moved here for my rookie year.”

Team training and physical therapy are still aspects of daily life, but Pohlen can rattle off a list of Indy restaurants and bars that would make any self-proclaimed foodie nod in approval; Patachou, Bluebeard, Union 50 just to name a few. And the interest in Indianapolis outside Banker’s Life Fieldhouse is genuine. During our interview, Pohlen flipped the tables and started grilling me on where some good places around town to get involved in the creative community.

“I definitely think that Indy can claim the ‘sports town’ identity,” she says. “But, there are ways that sports and arts can be intertwined.”

She explains that during the seasons for Indy’s various sports teams, it can be hard to find time for athletes to go out and really experience a lot of what the city has to offer. But that doesn’t mean that the desire isn’t there. Pohlen thinks there would be a lot to gain, on both sides, if the athletic organizations and Indy’s creative community could find more ways to interface. Brainstorming on the spot, Jeanette said she could easily see the Fever hosting various arts causes and events at games. And it doesn’t have to stop with the Fever, Indy has more than a few well-established sports franchises that this type of interaction could work very well with, “I just don’t know if people have given that a certain level of thought yet.”

“The franchises here have really good people on their teams and in the community,” she says. “There’s a good vision [for Indianapolis] for people to get behind.”

So could Indianapolis own the “sports city” as its image, its defining mark as a city? “Oh definitely,” she says. She runs through a list of names, most of which are likely to go down in the Indianapolis Sports Hall of Fame, if not the Halls of Fame for their respective leagues: “Reggie Wayne, Frank Vogel, Peyton [Manning]. And Tamika [Catchings],” Pohlen says. “There’s all of these people that are pillars of the community leading our sports teams.”

“Growing up in California playing soccer and basketball, I didn’t have a football team to root for really,” she says with a smile. “Living here, how can you not love the Colts? It’s so easy to be a sports fan in this city.”

Eric ReesPattern