It is the year 2008, a tumultuous time in politics
when we could see Hillary Clinton become the first woman president of the United States of America.
Now more than ever, it is important for us to realize how much of an impact
women have on our society.
It was only 36 years ago when Congress
passed Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, changing the world of sports
for years to come. This act opened up more athletic
opportunities for women.
In an ode to Womens
History Month, we decided to spotlight three extraordinary women in basketball,
whose positions are occasionally overshadowed in the very male-dominated sport.
Staley, Pat Summitt and Vivian Stringer are not only coaches they are teachers.
In just seven seasons as coach, former WNBA star Dawn Staley has constructed the Temple Owls
women’s basketball team into a major powerhouse. The 2004 and 2005 Atlantic 10
Coach of the Year and 2005 Regional Coach of the Year, Staley is the fastest
coach in Temple
women’s basketball history to reach 100 wins.
For the first time in Temple History, Staley helped
to produce their first-ever WNBA First Round Draft Picks, when Candice Dupree and
Kamesha Hairston were drafted by the Chicago Sky and Connecticut Sun.
Amazingly, Staley received these high honors while she still maintained her position
as an All-Star player for the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting and Houston Comets. In
2006, she retired from the WNBA, but not before leaving a remarkable legacy in her
10 years in the league. Staley is just one of two players in NCAA Tournament
history to be voted the NCAA Final Four Outstanding Player, and to coach a team
in the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Dawn Staley was honored as a member of the WNBA’s All-Decade team. In
2007, the WNBA presented the first ever Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award.
This award is presented to the player who best exemplifies the characteristics
of a leader in the community in which she works or lives. Staley, although
still rather new to coaching, is already showing the sports world that she is a
force to be reckoned with.
With seven NCCA Championships, more than 30 seasons
of coaching and over 950 career wins, Pat
Summitt is tenacious. As the head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady
Volunteer basketball team, she is the all-time winningest coach in both men and
women NCAA basketball history.
She has coached the Ladies of Tennessee to an
unparalleled 26 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Sweet 16, and produced 12
Olympians, 19 Kodak All-Americans named to 32 teams and 69 All-SEC performers.
In the summer of 2002, coach Summitt became a
consultant to the WNBA. She aided the Washington Mystics with player personnel
and the draft, and for the next two years (03/04) the Mystics earned their
first-ever shot at a WNBA playoff. Coach Summitt has garnered numerous awards, including
two years as the WBCA/Converse Coach of the Year, and seven times as the
Southeastern Conference (SEC) Coach of the Year.
Summitt was a member of the inaugural class of the Women’s Basketball Hall
of Fame in 1999, and was inducted in to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.
She is also nominated this year for the Naismith College Coach of the Year,
which if won, will give her a total of six. In her many years of coaching, Pat
Summit has never had a losing season.
The impeccable C.
Vivian Stringer coaches the Rutgers University team. She is the first coach in mens or womens basketball to take three
different schools to the Final Four. The schools include Cheyney
University in 1982, The University of
Iowa in 1993, and most recently Rutgers
University in 2000 and
again in 2007.
During Coach Stringers
35 plus years, she was named one of the 101 Most Influential Minorities in
Sports by Sports Illustrated in 2003,
and was a recipient of the Black Coaches Associations Lifetime Achievement
Award in 2004.
As an assistant coach
for the 2004 U.S. Olympic
womens basketball team, she helped guide Team USA
to a gold medal in Athens, Greece. Coach Stringer was finally
acknowledged for her many accomplishments when she was inducted into the
Womens Basketball Hall of Fame on June 9, 2001.
Along with three other
coaches, Stringer has been named a finalist for the 2008 Naismith Women’s
College Coach of the Year honor. Last month, Stringer added another star
to her list of accolades by becoming the third coach in women’s college
basketball history and the first Black coach ever to win 800 games.
In and outside the game of basketball, C. Vivian Stringer is highly
respected. Even through the controversy that the entire Rutgers
womens basketball team endured in 2007, she kept her composer and continued to
Coaches Stringer, Staley and Summitt all exude the qualities of what it take
be a winner. They have not only brought championships to their teams, but joy
to the communities that they represent. These women have triumphed, and in the
prime of there lives they are defying all odds.