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These Former WNBA Players are Carrying on Their Legacy as Coaches

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3 years back, the WNBA ran the gauntlet over its employing techniques as a result of the absence of females in management duties, specifically in head mentoring settings. Currently, in its 27th period, females comprise 75 percent of the head trainers in the Organization, 6 of whom are previous WNBA gamers.

Keep reading to discover why it’s so vital to have gamers as trainers as well as all of the intangibles they give the setting.


In 1998, Nancy Lieberman came to be the initial player-turned-head instructor in the W after presuming a double function as basic supervisor as well as head instructor of the Detroit Shock. Lieberman, a New york city City indigenous, was prepared by the Phoenix az Mercury in 1997 at 38 years of ages. She played one ready the Detroit Shock in 2008 at the age of 50. The Hall of Famer is taken into consideration a pioneer for her campaigning for job pertaining to gender equal rights in sporting activities as well as for leading a brand-new course for women trainers throughout both guys’s as well as females’s sporting activities.  


After she was prepared with the 34th general choice by the Detroit Shock in 1998, the initial WNBA instructor Sandy Brondello bet was Nancy Lieberman. Both had really gone across courses a year prior in Phoenix az. 

“I visited Phoenix to spend some time with Michele Timms, who I was quite close to, and I remember shooting around a little bit, and later I heard that Nancy was scared that I was going to take her spot,” Brondello jokes. “But I was injured, so I wasn’t taking anyone’s spot.” 

As a gamer, the Australian citizen’s WNBA profession would certainly last 5 periods, with drop in Detroit, Miami as well as Seattle. Identifying what follows as soon as the sphere quits jumping is a rough truth that every professional athlete have to deal with at some time. After 17 years as a specialist basketball gamer, Brondello, after that 36, needed to challenge the large concern: What currently?  

The solution pertained to her after the 2004 Olympics, when it came to be harder for her to recuperate from the several injuries she had actually suffered throughout her profession.  

“It was my choice to retire. I wasn’t forced out,” claims Brondello. “I got to a stage where I played so much basketball and achieved all of the goals I set out for myself. It was all about what’s next. I knew I wanted to coach.”

Brondello’s wish to instructor in the WNBA came true when she was supplied her initial aide mentoring task for the San Antonio Silver Stars (currently the Las Las vega Aces) by then-head instructor Dan Hughes in 2005. “That opportunity paved the way for where I am today,” she claims. 

Utilizing her experience as a previous gamer to her benefit, Brondello had the ability to link the space in between the gamers as well as the mentoring team. In 2010, she was advertised to head instructor of the Silver Stars, a choice she watches, in knowledge, as a blunder. 

“Why I wanted to be a head coach and why I shouldn’t have [been] is because I was pregnant and had a baby during the season,” discusses Brondello. “Trying to be a mom of two and being
a coach in my first head coaching job—it was tough. I should’ve prioritized being a mom right there because I didn’t have enough support, to be quite honest, to do my job at the highest level with one assistant.”

Throughout that time, the WNBA just enabled one aide instructor per group, a duty Brondello had actually loaded with her other half, Olaf Lange. With each other, they needed to browse both mentoring as well as parent as a group of 2.

The Silver Stars completed the 2010 period 3rd in the West with a 14-20 document as well as at some point shed to the Phoenix az Mercury in the seminar semifinals.

At the final thought of the period, Brondello’s as well as Lange’s agreements were not grabbed. Utilizing her experience in San Antonio to discover as well as expand, Brondello got ready for her following possibility. 

Considering That 2005, she has actually worked as either a WNBA head instructor or aide. 

In 2014, Brondello made background as the head instructor of the Phoenix az Mercury, leading the group to a 29-5 document as well as a champion in her initial period, while additionally winning the Organization’s Train of the Year honor.

Currently acting as the head instructor of the New york city Freedom after 8 years in Phoenix az, Brondello gets on a pursuit to make background once again by bringing New york city its initial title in franchise business background.


In 2015, Becky Hammon signed up with Sandy Brondello as the only previous WNBA gamers to win titles as head trainers when she led the Las Las vega Aces to its initial champion in franchise business background. 

“I played against Sandy, and then she coached me [in San Antonio], and now we coach against each other,” claims Hammon. 

This period, the Aces as well as Freedom have actually been called “superteams” as a result of their totally free firm lineup enhancements. The Aces, with Hammon at the helm, are wanting to win back-to-back titles, something that hasn’t been done because the Los Angeles Triggers in 2002. Two-time WNBA champ Candace Parker gets on the lineup, which currently consists of two-time MVP A’ja Wilson, seasoned guard Chelsea Gray as well as previous No. 1 general choices Kelsey Plum as well as Jackie Youthful. As Well As the Brondello-led Freedom included Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones as well as Courtney Vandersloot. 

“When she signed Stewie and that news broke, it must’ve been a couple of days later when I said, Oh, this is about to be fun, because you want to play against the best,” Hammon claims.  

A pupil of the video game, Hammon claims she discovered a great deal from Brondello throughout her days playing in San Antonio, a real testimony to the favorable influence of having previous WNBA gamers in head mentoring settings. 

“Obviously, it’s not a prerequisite to be a great coach, to have to be a former player, but I think that there are so many great minds in the women’s game [that] just want to give back to the game that has given us so much. I respect that,” she claims. “There are so many of us now that it actually speaks to the longevity of the League, now that we’re getting to cycle through having all of these players be head coaches. It’s a cool thing we got going on, [I] definitely want to keep it open and leave something for the next person coming in, opportunity wise.” 

Hammon confesses that she never ever actually thought of what she wished to do after her having fun days were done. “Back then, I was more worried about keeping my job and trying to get better every year,” she claims.

In 2012, after seeing previous gamer Stephanie White end up being an instructor in Indiana, Hammon began considering her post-retirement choices. After suffering a knee injury in 2013, she rotated to relaying prior to formally retiring the list below year. 

“When I retired from the League, I went right into the NBA. I had, like, two days off, so there wasn’t a lot of down time. It was one right into the other,” Hammon remembers. “There’s a pipeline now. There wasn’t always that.” 

Today, present as well as previous gamers have a lot more accessibility to sources, like the NBA Training Growth Program, that aid them with obtaining mentoring chances. WNBA gamers like Candice Dupree as well as Kristi Toliver have actually taken advantage of such programs. 

A six-time WNBA All-Star, Hammon is additionally assisting to establish a brand-new criterion of pay equity for trainers throughout the Organization. In 2022, the Aces authorized Hammon to a $1 million yearly agreement, the biggest in WNBA background. 

“The rising tide lifts all the ships so that everybody moves up,” she claims. “Investing into people is why I got into coaching, into leadership. It’s because I really feel like I’m mentoring the next generation of leaders with a really simple, straightforward message: Serve the people around you.”


Each of the Organization’s loads groups have actually made the most of employing a previous gamer to join their team.

“It’s real intentional to re-engage former players. Not every former player wants to be a coach, but the ones who do, give [them] an opportunity,” claims present Connecticut Sunlight head instructor Stephanie White. 

A couple of years back, the WNBA carried out a brand-new Organization plan, permitting groups to bring 3 aides (as opposed to 2) on the problem that a person is a previous gamer (with a minimum of a year of experience). 

In an Organization made up of over 70 percent Black professional athletes, this plan has actually aided to enhance depiction as well as variety initiatives within the WNBA employing cycle. 

Atlanta Desire head instructor Tanisha Wright is a spin-off of previous Aces head instructor Expense Laimbeer’s mentoring tree. Wright signed up with the Aces team in 2020 as well as was worked with by the Desire one year later on. 

“Bill absolutely championed women and gave women opportunities to coach in the W,” claims Wright. “He’s just somebody who saw the importance of having former players and giving women opportunities to impact this League in a special way.” 

Wright prides herself on assisting to develop chances for others, particularly those that are typically forgotten when it pertains to 2nd opportunities. This period, she included previous Wings head instructor Vickie Johnson to her team after Johnson’s agreement had not been restored by Dallas. 

“It’s important for us to create opportunities for ourselves because we [Black women] often don’t get second chances,” claims Train Wright. “So if we have the opportunity to open the door for one another, then we need to do that. We need to leave the door open for the next generation coming.” 

Presently, one 4th of the Organization’s head trainers are Black. Seattle Tornado head instructor Noelle Quinn shared comparable beliefs when she connected to Pokey Chatman to join her team in 2021. 

“Before I put Pokey on my staff, people weren’t checking for her anymore. I think that she is one of the best to have done it and continues to do it,” claims Quinn. “If I have the opportunity to put somebody else on, then I’m going to do that. But not because they’re a woman or because they’re Black, but because they’re deserving…Representation matters and it’s not only important to have that on a coaching staff but [in] front office positions, too.”  

With the WNBA in its 27th period, it is essential to acknowledge those that have actually led the way, while still recognizing that there is still advance ahead.

“It’s really important for our League to continue to find ways to embrace and bring back former players,” claims White. “Whether that’s on the coaching side, the business side, general managers, ownership. I hope one day our League has a commissioner that’s a former player.”

WSLAM 3 including A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray as well as Jackie Youthful is readily available currently.


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