Belle Vernon freshman Viva Kreis gets behind-the-scenes look at WNBA

Sunday, September 29, 2019 | 3:00 PM

Viva Kreis fell for basketball at a young age.

The 14-year-old freshman at Belle Vernon was able to share her affinity for the game with a number of WNBA players over the summer as part of a research project.

She spent time with all 12 pro women’s teams.

Kreis’ project was part of National History Day, and the theme was “Breaking Barriers in History.”

“The WNBA popped into my mind,” Kreis said in a video the WNBA produced about her project.

She wrote to the league, asking for access to teams and the league obliged. The result was fun and informative for Kreis, who plays point guard.

“They read (my letter), and they called me and it’s history from there,” Kreis said in the video. Pros began to recognize the wide-eyed teen.

Even her favorite player, Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury, sought her out for a meet-and-greet.

“She is doing something that is remarkable and inspiring for young women all over the world,” Belle Vernon girls basketball coach Ronnie Drennan said. “She has grown so much as an individual throughout this process. It has really carried over onto the court. She definitely has taken some pointers from the pros because she has really improved her ability to communicate and direct on the floor.”

Kreis’s mother, Mary, is a marathon runner and a cancer survivor. She named her daughter Viva because it means “long live” in Italian.

“Now she has seen women in leadership roles and she sees what she can do later in life,” Mary Kreis said. The league-wide tour took her from Connecticut to Dallas to Los Angeles, among other stops. She met a number of star players.

“I couldn’t have imagined anything like this,’ she said. “It’s been incredible.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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