Seattle Storm broadcasters Dick Fain and Elise Woodward Credit: Dick Fain

A whole lot of people are getting to know WNBA basketball this season. Thanks to the arrival of rookies like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, and Cameron Brink, coupled with the dominant play of powerhouses like the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty, interest in the women’s basketball league has never been bigger.

Dick Fain and Elise Woodward know all about it. The Washington-based broadcasting duo have been calling Seattle Storm games together for the better part of 16 seasons. They’ve seen a lot over that time, including several WNBA titles, the ascension of Sue Bird, and the franchise’s championship run with Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart. And now, they get to cover a new era of Storm basketball with a roster that includes former MVP Nneka Ogwumike, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Ezi Magbegor, and Loyd. 

As the Storm prepare to host Clark and the Indiana Fever at Climate Pledge Arena on Wednesday evening, Awful Announcing spoke with Fain and Woodward about their expectations for the 2024 WNBA season, how they prepare to call games like this one, and what new WNBA fans and media members might want to know.

While the Seattle Storm is coming off a down season (11-29), they restocked and retooled during the offseason, adding what some have referred to as a “superteam” or at the very least a “Big 4.” Regardless of what people are calling them, there are expectations for Seattle to get back to competing in the Western Conference. However, a 1-3 start has dampened those lofty dreams.

“I think the key for Seattle is how quickly can that talent gel and play well together,” said Fain. “You find that in the NBA as well, where some of these teams that are put together, sometimes they gel right away, sometimes they never gel. I don’t think this team will never gel, but I do think it might take a little bit of time for them to get used to playing with each other.”

However long it takes for them to get there, Fain appreciates that team ownership decided, at a time when they easily could have taken their foot off the gas and faded into the background to retool, they instead are trying to hang with the league’s best teams.

“I think it’s really cool that in the midst of this enlightening or whatever you want to call it, it’s cool that the Storm have decided we’re going to be really competitive. They could have easily just said, Hey, we’re just going to… We like our young core. We’ve got Jewell Loyd locked up for a couple more years. We’re just going to build for the future and be a last-place or second-to-last-place team again while everybody else is having fun. I’m not saying that that would have been a bad plan. Teams do that all the time. They take the slow-cook approach to being good. And the Storm have decided, no, we’re going to capitalize on this interest in the league, and we’re going to be really, really competitive and try to win a championship.”

That desire to be part of the excitement rather than face into the background seems very much in line with the way the Storm has acted as an organization from the start.

“The thing for me that is the most impressive part is the female ownership group,” says Woodward. “They are the key to everything and they deserve so much credit. I’ll never forget what a sad and horrific day it was when the Sonics got sold. It was actually in the middle of a Storm game when we found out the news broke. There was so much uncertainty and we thought we were losing the Sonics and the Storm, and that female ownership group stepped up.

“They’ve invested in women, and it’s so amazing to see these women leaders in our community invest in women’s basketball and to see how it’s blossomed. They deserve so much credit for having the vision of where they could take it. I just hope that the community and the fans and the players, everybody realizes what they’ve done, literally putting their pocketbook on the line.”

While WNBA teams in other markets might be seeing massive lifts in attendance and local fan support, Fain looks at the Seattle women’s basketball scene, and the Storm within it, as something notable to local sports fans for quite some time.

“Seattle is a city that has always embraced women’s basketball,” he said. “We got great crowds in the ’90s for the University of Washington women’s team. When I was in college, the women’s team was out drawing the men’s team, and that was over 25 years ago. This has always been a market that embraces women’s basketball… Seattle has really never had problems getting fans. We averaged almost 10,000 fans a game last year for a team that barely won double-digit games.”

The attention and excitement driving the WNBA in 2024 comes to Seattle on Wednesday night when Clark and the Fever come to town. Both Fain and Woodward say they’ve gotten a lot of requests for tickets to the sold-out game, and they expect the atmosphere to live up to the hype.

“Caitlin Clark was out here last year, played in Seattle in the Regional to earn her first trip to the Final Four, and it was a fantastic crowd,” said Woodward. “It was an electric environment at Climate Pledge. I think for her now to make her professional debut in Seattle, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think it’ll be an outstanding environment.”

The two broadcasters have seen plenty of great players over the years, but rarely one that commands the kind of attention and excitement as Clark. Does knowing that you’ll be calling a Caitlin Clark game affect the way they prepare to call a game?

“You can’t ignore that it’s Caitlin Clark coming into the building. Why would you bury the lede? You can’t ignore that,” said Fain. “But at the same time, you can’t make the call all about Caitlin Clark, win or lose. I think once the pregame is over and once the build-up is over, I think you just call the game like you would call any other game because you have no idea. Caitlin could go for 30. She could also go 4-for-15. You just have no idea what’s going to happen in the game.”

“It’s different when you’re a hometown announcer, you are covering the team through the eyes of the fans of your franchise,” added Woodward. “I always want to give kudos and props to an opposing player when they deserve it. There’s no question. But it’s different than being on a national broadcast where you are impartial and staying right down the middle. You prepare through the Storm lens, doing a hometown broadcast of what they need to do to slow down Caitlin or Cameron or Angel or Napheesa Collier tonight.”

While Wednesday’s matchup is just one game in a much larger season, it’s also one day in a much bigger year for the league and its growth. As two people who have been able to watch the WNBA grow up close over the last two decades, they have some keen insights for those who are just starting to turn their attention to women’s basketball.

“First of all, don’t expect to see a men’s game,” says Fain. “Don’t expect to see alley-oop jams and judge it by how far off the floor these women get. I think that’s the main thing. You can play excellent, exciting basketball without being able to get your elbow over the rim. I think basketball purists and people who understand the game like the WNBA the most.

“Watch the skill, watch the teamwork, watch the coaching, watch the fundamentals, basketball the way it was meant to be played. That’s what you get in the WNBA, and I think just enjoy that.”

It’s not just about new fans following the WNBA. The league also has the attention of many media members for the first time. There’s going to be a learning curve for some journalists as they get to understand the league and players, but Woodward hopes that their reporting can evolve beyond the most obvious storylines.

“Certainly, the Caitlin Clark-Angel Reese moment in the tournament last year sparked interest from casual fans all over the place. It’s got not just sports media, but regular news media involved in covering it as well,” she said. “The old phrase is any coverage is good coverage, which is always hard for me because there are so many amazing stories. Those two don’t have beef. They are both super competitive. I want them to be able to shine and have that, and for the media to cover their accomplishments and the way they’re playing. I hope the focus is on how great they are and not some of the sidebars.”

Wednesday’s game between the Storm and Fever is set to tip at 7:00 p.m. PT.

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to