Three pointers, hoops, dunks, adrenaline rush and victory points, basketball has it all. And Sheryl Denise Swoopes knows it all too well, being former professional basketball player.
Swoopes was the first player to be signed in the WNBA and is a three-time WNBA MVP. She was named one of the league’s Top 15 Players of All Time at the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game. Yet this is but a few of her accomplishments to be mentioned.
Born March 25, 1971, in Brownfield, Texas, Swoopes developed an early passion for the game, playing pick-up games with her three older brothers. Soon after, she began competing at age seven in a local children’s league called Little Dribblers. She later played basketball at Brownfield High School. Although recruited by the University of Texas, Swoopes enrolled at South Plains College.
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After playing at South Plains for two years, Swoopes transferred to Texas Tech, near her hometown, setting several basketball records before moving on to become a professional basketball player for the Houston Comets and later the Seattle Storm.
A few of Swoope’s noted accomplishments in her lifetime include; the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in 1993, 1993 Sports Woman of the year by Women’s Sports Foundation, three Olympic gold medals, 1993 Female Associated Press Athlete of the Year Award as well as the Honda Sports Award for basketball in 1993.
Others include being named one of the 20 Female Athletes of the decade (2000 to 2010) by Sports Illustrated and being inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. She was also later inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. Swoopes is also the first Women’s basketball player to have a Nike shoe named after her: The Air Swoopes.
Swoopes’ career in coaching has seen her have stints with Mercer Island High School in Washington where she was assistant coach in 2010 as well as Loyola University Chicago where she was hired as coach of the women’s basketball team in 2013.
Having shown her passion and proven skills on the court, Swoopes returned to her alma mater, Texas Tech, in July 2017, where she was appointed as the women’s basketball program’s Director of Player Development.
Swoopes was married from June 1995 to 1999 to her high school sweetheart, with whom she has a son. She juggled family life with her career, going back to the sports six weeks after giving birth, and leading her team to the 1997 WNBA Championship.
It is admirable when people invest in their passion and make a name for themselves in their field. Sheryl Denise Swoopes is no exception, and in Women’s History Month, Face2Face Africa celebrates her accomplishments.