Sheryl Swoopes, the First Woman to Sign a WNBA Contract, Helped Pave the Way for Women in Basketball

When you talk about the history of the WNBA, Sheryl Swoopes is one name that you have to mention. Swoopes was the first player to be signed to the WNBA, and she went on to have a lot of success in the league.

She continues to be involved in the game of basketball, impacting the lives of younger players. Swoopes is one of the greatest players in WNBA history.

How Sheryl Swoopes started her career in the WNBA

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Swoopes played college basketball at Texas Tech University for two seasons. In 1993 she led her team to an NCAA women’s basketball championship her senior year. Swoopes received numerous honors during her time at Texas Tech. She was named the Naismith College Player of the Year and won the Honda Sports Award, which is given to the best collegiate female athlete in their respective sport. She also was selected as the WBCA Player of the Year and was a two-time All-American.

After her college career, she played for the USA national team and competed in the 1994 World Championships. She also was a member of the 1996 Olympic team that won the gold medal. The next season she was recruited by the Houston Comets of the WNBA during the 1997 inaugural season. Swoopes joined the team toward the end of the season after giving birth to her son, and she led the Comets to the 1997 WNBA championship.

The Comets quickly formed a dynasty and won four consecutive WNBA titles. Swoopes was the first three-time WNBA MVP and the first three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. She spent the majority of her career playing for the Comets.

The end of Sheryl Swoopes WNBA career

After spending 10 seasons with the Houston Rockets, Swoopes joined the Seattle Storm in 2008. She only averaged 7.1 points with the Storm playing in 29 games. After the 2008 season, she didn’t play in the WNBA again until 2011 when she joined the Tulsa Shock. That was her last season playing in the WNBA, and she averaged 8.2 points playing in 33 games with the Shock.

Swoopes had an impressive WNBA career. She is the second player in WNBA history to win both the regular-season MVP award and the All-Star Game MVP award in the same season. Swoopes was the first player to record a triple-double both in the regular season and the playoffs. She left a great legacy in the WNBA, and she was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. A year later, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Sheryl Swoopes continues to make an impact through her nonprofit organization

From 2009 to 2010, Swoopes to a short break from the WNBA. During that time, she served as an assistant coach at Mercer Island High School in Washington. In 2013 she became the head coach of the women’s basketball team at Loyola University Chicago. She spent three seasons as head coach and finished with a 31-62 record.

After her time at Loyola, she returned to her alma mater and became an assistant coach at Texas Tech in 2017. Swoopes loved the game of basketball, and she is one of the great women players of all time. In 2019, she co-founded a non profit organization called Back to Our Roots. According to their website, the mission of the organization is to empower and educate today’s youth to believe in themselves through farming, gardening, goal setting, sports and exploring different cultures.

Swoopes and co-founder Chris Tellison created the organization because of a vision the two had to encourage youth to accept their differences and learn about their culture and to show them how sports can connect people from all over the world. Whether it’s on the court or off, Swoopes continues to impact many lives.