The Minnesota Lynx is Minnesota's "winningest" team with three WNBA championships - in 2011, 2013 and 2015 - and they've qualified for the WNBA playoffs in eight of their 18 years in Minnesota. They nearly took a fourth WNBA title in October.

They've won the hearts and admiration of fans for reasons beyond their winning ways. They've served as athletic role models for women and girls and changed the public's perception of who can be a strong athlete.

The players connect with fans. Even when game time is imminent, they take time to chat and sign autographs. Lynx forward Maya Moore is known for inviting kids out to center court to dance with her when the Lynx win, followed by high-fives and hugs. Says Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen, "It's great to give back and see the next generation of players and see how players are really getting better."

The Lynx use their platform to call attention to Minnesota women and women's organizations that are "winners" for doing great things in their communities. For example, along with the Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota, the Lynx recognize "Homegrown Heroes" at their games, honoring the valor of women veterans.

The Minnesota Lynx Foundation supports breast cancer research and programs, and the Minnesota Lynx FastBreak Foundation provides and supports hands-on programs that positively impact Minnesota youth. Says forward Rebekkah Brunson, "Outside of playing basketball, we want the children to understand that we care and that we are here for them and we're supporting them. It's not just about what they can get from us or what they can do for us, but what we can do for them and how we can help them."

Most notably this year, the Lynx used the power of their public visibility to make a cultural statement when they arrived at a July game in warm-up shirts printed with "Black Lives Matter" and the phrases "Change Starts With Us - Justice & Accountability." At a press conference, they denounced "a longtime problem of racial profiling," and the "senseless ambush" of Dallas police. Other WNBA teams soon followed suit. Rarely have so many players and teams in a league stood together across racial lines on a matter of social import.

The Lynx are setting a new standard for what sports figures can be and can do - changemakers and winners on the court and beyond.


BEACHANGEMAKER:
The best way to support the Minnesota Lynx is to attend their games.
Contact lynx.wnba.com/tickets/ for the 2017 season. And follow them on social media-Facebook: Minnesota Lynx; Twitter: @minnesotalynx