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Hoop Dreams

Atlanta Dream owners Kelly Loeffler and Mary Brock are at different points in their lives—one is a full-time corporate executive and the other a grandmother—but they’re ready to lead their team to success. Here, we huddle up with them for the play by play. 

Atlanta Dream owners Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler 

Meet the slam-dunk duo behind Atlanta’s WNBA team.

How exactly did you two meet?
MB: We didn’t know each other, but we had a mutual friend [Kathy Betty] who owned the Atlanta Dream. Both of us had never been to a game. We were invited and became totally engaged and excited. We joined the ownership group and took the learning curve together.
KL: When [my husband], Jeff, and I were invited to our first Dream game, I thought we could sneak out after the first half—and I was a basketball player, so shame on me! We ended up screaming, yelling and staying on our feet.

After Betty was transitioned out, you two became the city’s first all-female, professional ownership group, what was the reaction?

MB: We’ve had huge support from the other teams. [Atlanta Falcons President] Rich McKay and Arthur Blank always answer our phone calls and offer advice. Kelly and I think it’s so important to provide a league for women, as the outcome for women who participate in sports is so well-documented, but we also look at this as [making] a small business work. If we weren’t 100 percent confident, we wouldn’t be doing this.

So do you manage well together? How does that play out?
KL: Because it’s just the two of us, we’re pretty candid with each other about our strengths and weaknesses. From being around Mary, I’ve learned about having an attitude that is positive and constructive.
MB: Kelly is a very process-oriented person, and I’ve learned a lot of terms from her. For example, we’ll get ready to have a meeting and she’ll say something like, ‘Now we have to have a hard stop at X.’ Kelly is the one to really keep us on our target.

Now that all your effort is paying off, what are you most looking forward to this year?
KL: We’re all focused on winning and this is why we put a team on the court. We’ve been to the playoffs four out of five years and two of those years we made it to the championship game. If you win, you get more interest—more attendees, sellouts. We want the league to be successful, so winning is everything.

I love the enthusiasm! But you’re both also very involved with the arts. Do you think sports and the arts can mix?
KL: We’ve talked to a lot of cultural organizations because they agree there’s a nexus to sports and being good at your art.
MB: We’re always looking for ways to promote each other. Atlanta Symphony Orchestra President Stanley Romanstein is a season ticket holder and sits in the front row. That’s significant for us to have that kind of support.

OK, now tell us what happens off the court.
KL: We love to go to dinner and just sit and talk. We even had a last-minute New Year’s Eve together.
MB: I laugh that I’m 5-foot-6 and she’s 5-foot-11, so I have to wear higher heels and a big smile. Sometimes we’ll say, ‘We never talk about the fun stuff! Let’s just go shop for lipstick together.’