Yet nothing could have prepared her for the WNBA bubble. In an unprecedented arrangement, the WNBA hosted its entire season in a COVID-proof bubble on a boarding school campus on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Dietrick thrived in the unconventional setting, notching career highs in every major statistical category and joining her teammates in groundbreaking social justice efforts.
Dietrick’s time at Princeton forged the adaptability she has relied upon at the professional level. She started just six games over her first two college seasons. At Princeton, she explains, most players don’t come in and start as freshmen. “That wasn’t the way our program was built. You come in, you work hard, and you pay your dues.”
From the outside looking in, Dietrick did not appear to be WNBA-bound. But she focused on excelling in whatever minutes she got and continually improving in practice. By her senior year, Dietrick had become one of the best players in the nation, earning honorable mention All-America honors and leading Princeton to an undefeated regular season.
Her first professional team was located in a small town in central Italy. At first, she had no friends, no internet access, and no grasp of the Italian language. “The first two weeks were absolutely brutal,” she recalls with a laugh. “I wanted to go home.”
But she eventually carved out a niche for herself on and off the court, parlaying her success in the Italian league into her first WNBA opportunity, a three-game stint with the Seattle Storm in 2016.
After spells in Australia and Greece, Dietrick returned to the WNBA for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, appearing primarily off the bench in 26 and 17 games, respectively.
When two of her Atlanta Dream teammates withdrew from the bubble this summer, she finally had a path to regular minutes. Dietrick seized the opportunity, averaging 5.9 points and 3.4 assists in 21 minutes per game. She shot a scorching 44.8 percent on three-point shots, a franchise record.
Off the court, Dietrick enthusiastically joined in the league’s efforts to honor victims of police brutality and fight against systemic injustice in America. Those efforts included a protest against Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler, a U.S. senator who criticized the WNBA’s commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement. Dietrick and her teammates responded by wearing shirts supporting Loeffler’s opponent in the senatorial special election.
Coupled with a demanding game schedule, the justice efforts made for a chaotic but deeply rewarding time. “You were either eating, sleeping, recovering, or playing,” Dietrick says. “Every other minute you could squeeze in for social justice, you did.”
“We were professional athletes this year, but we were more than that,” she continues. “We could see that we were actually making a difference, so that was really encouraging. Although we were all packed in this tiny place in Bradenton, Florida, we felt like our impact was national, if not international.”
Though currently a free agent, Dietrick hopes to continue playing major minutes in the 2021 WNBA season. “I definitely feel like I’ve proven I belong in this league,” she says.