Ladies First: Shot Callers

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 Women’s

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 Owl’s

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 men’s or women’s 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 Stringer’s

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 Association’s Lifetime Achievement

Award in 2004.

As an assistant coach

for the 2004 U.S. Olympic

women’s 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

Women’s 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

women’s 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.