Current position: ESPN Television Basketball Analyst
2010 Inductee Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
2017 Inductee Basketball Hall of Fame
Women’s National Basketball Association Player 1997-2003
Member Gold Medal Olympic Team 1996
University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Team 1995 National Championship: Undefeated season
Can you talk about your present job…
I work for ESPN in Bristol preparing and presenting pregame, halftime and postgame discussions for women’s professional and college basketball games. This involves a lot of traveling throughout the country. Essentially my colleagues and I like to think of ESPN as one-stop shopping for basketball information. Currently we are looking at the top eight candidates for college programs. In addition to studying each player’s statistics I must explain what makes a certain player particularly interesting. For example, there is an Oregon guard who is good at scoring, rebounding and passing; and a Mississippi player that’s good on offense and rebounds. One young lady from Louisville seems to be able to score well despite her height. Scanning the tapes, I’m looking to see what kinds of moves she performs in order to get the points.
Mostly I work from home, but while traveling in airplanes or staying in hotel rooms, I have access to any footage I need from ESPN on my iPad. I watch a ton of games and am regularly in touch with my producer in addition to consulting with other staff members such as Andy Landers from the University of Georgia. We sum up our information, call our producer and start by talking about the plays we’ve recently reviewed.
Thinking back to your early years in school, what were your interests? What happened that drew you towards basketball?
I have two siblings, a brother and sister. My dad has always been especially interested in sports and growing up it seems there was always a game on TV. My sister and I were tomboys in our early years and played just about all sports available to us. My dad put up a hoop on the garage, so basketball was one of the games we played. I was always on the hunt for things to do to help me fight boredom.
Thinking of my family, my grandmother was a great Wiffle Ball player with a powerful curve ball. She grew up with nine brothers. My dad’s mom was progressive in her thinking and didn’t distinguish in her mind what boys or girls could accomplish. Both of my parents were like that also. While I was in either third or fourth grade I mentioned that I wanted to play on a basketball team. In Southwick there were only two girls that signed up, so things didn’t look that promising. My mom said, “Well, you’ll just have to play with the boys then.” One year I asked for a football jersey for Christmas and Santa brought one for me. We also liked tobogganing on the hill behind the Granby high school after a good snowstorm. So I guess you could say that the inclinations my sister and I had for behaving like tomboys were truly encouraged. I played three sports in high school and did well in basketball since my height was an advantage.
In preparing for college my original thoughts were to major in political science, play college basketball, and attend law school after playing pro basketball. Professional basketball teams only existed in Europe at that time and their structure was a bit loose. Basically companies would sponsor a women’s team of female employees plus two exceptional American basketball players. The Americans were paid just enough to get by. So you had players who worked in an office all day and then squeezed in practice time at night. As you can imagine, little media attention was given to these teams but the sponsor companies got good PR from the games.
How did the U.S. Women’s pro leagues develop?
In 1995 when my team, the University of Connecticut, had an undefeated season and won the National Championship for women’s basketball, the public began to take notice. There was a great deal of media attention given to the Women Huskies that year. I tried out for the Olympic team in 1996 and was very fortunate to become part of that team. We traveled around the U.S. playing games and practicing. Essentially, media coverage of this team’s activities was the initiation for the concept of a Women’s National Basketball league.
Your name is often thought of as an emblem for women’s basketball. Even today there are no women’s professional baseball, football, hockey etc. leagues in the United States. Being a part of the first women’s team to make history at UConn, playing in the Olympics, and then stepping on the floor to play for the newly formed WNBA is astounding and serves as a potent inspiration to all young women. What message do you have to help other women in the sports world?
I was blessed to be born in 1973, just one year after Title IX legislation was passed. “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
This was the first time that girls were given the opportunity to play on all sports teams during their school years. Had I been born four years earlier my story would be different. Along with this critical gift, I met many older women competitors who had played basketball with strong spirit despite the awful conditions female athletes endured during their formative years. Pat Summit, for example, washed her team’s uniforms and drove her players to away games. It is these women that we who came to the scene in later years and had the opportunity to play professionally have to thank.
These days I continue the challenge by bringing my ten-year-old son to watch his sister’s games. I think the best way to go forward is to have an impact on how our sons are raised and to ensure that they encourage professional women’s sports.
Can you talk about Granby and how you came to choose our town as a place to raise your family?
I lived in Simsbury for a while before I met my husband. Once I met Steve we began looking at houses all over the Farmington Valley and in Glastonbury. We kept coming back to the house we were shown in Granby and finally purchased it. At first I didn’t know anyone in town but once my kids started day care things changed. We had a wonderful experience with Valley Preschool and I was even on the board there for a period of time. Best of all we met a great group of friends at the preschool and our children thrived. Oftentimes when I meet people in town they tell me stories about when their own children were in school with either my mom as a guidance counselor or my dad as a coach/teacher. I especially like the tales about my mom, because it keeps her memory in my heart and mind.
There are many advantages for us living in Granby such as proximity to the airport for my work travel. Our kids have good access to sports and we all enjoy Salmon Brook Park. They have been involved in Little League, Rovers and basketball teams. We like running on the rail trails and the YMCA. Most of all it is the friendliness of the people that keeps us happy here in Granby.