Shannon Nichele brings Maryland Jewels to the WBDA

by Jewels Media Team

Before we get started, here’s a little background on the WBDA-DMV connection.  In 2004, Willie McCray founded the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) with a vision of enhancing women’s basketball by creating a highly competitive league that gives players an opportunity to compete after college and pursue their dreams of going pro either internationally or domestically.  During his tenure, D.C. Blue Stars was the first official DMV representative in the league with the Baltimore Dynasty and Baltimore Lions showcasing their own city's talent.

After the 2018 Season, the WBCBL was acquired by William Kelly, and rebranded as the Women's Basketball Development Association (WBDA) in 2019. In 2022, we are proud to bring DMV culture back to the WBDA by way of the Maryland Jewels, a premier women's semi-professional organization founded in Prince George's County, Maryland.

During my interview with Shannon Nichele, Team Owner & General Manager, I asked her some questions regarding the new league, team culture, and her vision for the upcoming season.

Who are the Maryland Jewels?

"Founded in 2017, Maryland Jewels first impressed upon the women's basketball scene early in 2018 after winning the Red Bull Reign 3x3 regional and national tournaments in D.C.  Over the years, we have worked hard towards building a solid foundation for a successful women's professional basketball organization that will positively impact our community. I look forward to building with our players and staff this year. The synergy we are cultivating on and off the court is undeniably our best to date."

WhAt is your goal this year as the owner & GM for the maryland jewels?

"I have so many goals for this organization, but my biggest priority is the people.  From our executive team, to the coaches and players, I want us to engage in a very high energy, collaborative, and positive team culture. We respect and understand each other's role(s) and responsibilities at every level. Community service is a huge part of our mission as a non-profit, so we plan to remain active in that regard throughout the season. Mental health and wellness is also a high priority for us this year. My goal is to assist players and staff with gaining access to interactive tools such the Calm App, and coordinate group activities outside of basketball such as yoga, boxing, paintball, and even spa days which provide our players an opportunity to decompress."


"The WBDA regular season is set to kickoff in May 2022.  Our season opener will be a home game against the Lady Patriots on May 21st at 3:00 PM. You can review our full game schedule online. Tickets will also be available later in the week on our team website for fans to purchase virtual, in-game, or group ticket packages this season."


"This journey means so much to me because of who I am and how I got here. I am honored to be a servant leader in this position, and I am blessed to have a small circle of black women around who understand me and believe in this mission. I am also leading a team of majority black women, so we are going to have more intentional days this year. As a former competitive athlete, I still find value in making sure players know their worth outside of their basketball skills because we are all human first. It’s easy to feel like you’re just a means to an end in this environment and I want more for my organization. I hope that my relentless strides towards success will resonate with other black sports professionals trying to make an impact in this industry. Trust God’s timing and your process. Also, BLACK WOMEN are the future of sports! Hire them.”

Thank you for reading!  You can stay locked in with the Maryland Jewels on social media by following @maryland.jewels on Instagram and @_MarylandJewels on Twitter.  Contact Nijah Armstrong if you are interested in our 2022 Sponsor packages.