Bria Hartley pulled up to Westchester County Center on Saturday with her son, Bryson Noah, in tow. The Liberty guard from North Babylon spent the past month playing for the French national team in the European Women’s Basketball Championship and was ready to return to her WNBA team.
Hartley had three points and two assists, playing 18 minutes of the Liberty’s 83-78 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks.
Being back with her team is important, of course, but as the team’s player representative Hartley is also focusing on gaining better benefits for mothers in the league’s upcoming collective bargaining agreement.
The guard spent the first half of her 2016 season pregnant, leaving the Washington Mystics at the end of the regular season to begin her maternity leave. Two weeks after her son’s birth in January 2017, Hartley was traded to the Liberty.
“For me, being a part of the Player’s Association means fighting for what we want as players, especially for me being a mom in the WNBA,” Hartley said after Saturday's victory. “There are a lot of things that aren’t in our CBA that I think should be for moms, so I definitely try to advocate for that.”
The CBA will expire after the regular season.
“I think we’re just fighting for what we want improved using whatever methods we can to get those things,” Hartley said. “Some of them I feel are basic needs for some players, like us moms. Hopefully, we can make a difference.
“It’s nice to be home and in America for a little bit,” said Hartley, who helped lead the French team to second place in the Euro tournament. “New York is home for me, so it’s really special to play here in front of a New York crowd.”
For the past two years, Hartley has played for the French National Team through the French citizenship that she has through her mother whose relatives are from there.
“For me, playing overseas is to represent France and represent my family, my grandmother especially,” Hartley said. “It’s a very special opportunity to be able to go over there and be able to play for them.”
It’s not uncommon for WNBA players to use their offseasons to play more basketball. On the Liberty alone, three athletes spent their off seasons in Europe; Amanda Zahui B. and Marine Johannés played for Sweden and France.
Hartley, Newsday’s 2010 Player of the Year out of North Babylon High School, played college ball at UConn, where she won two NCAA championships. She was taken by the Seattle Storm in the first round of the 2014 WNBA Draft and immediately traded to the Washington Mystics.
In Europe, Hartley has played in Hungary for Sopron Basket in 2014, in Turkey for Mersin BB in 2015 and 2017 and for the French National Team in 2018 and 2019.