Monday, February 9, 2009

That's Coach Sheryl Swoopes, Please

The Seattle Storm waived Sheryl Swoopes last week. It seems like a disrespectful way to end her time with the Storm, but I guess it shows that the WNBA is a business and that’s what happens in the sports business world, no matter how amazing your past accomplishments are.

However, this article caught my eye. It seems Sheryl has been doing some coaching on the side. She is a volunteer coach for a middle school girls’ basketball team. What I love about this article, besides the fact that it is so cool that Sheryl is interested in coaching and seems to have an unbelievable sense of humility, is that the Overlake School team, parents and athletic administration are darned happy to have Sheryl Swoopes coaching the team. Well, of course, you say. Why wouldn’t any team, boys or girls, be thrilled to have a three time WNBA MVP, three time Olympic Gold Medalist and NCAA Champion be their coach?

That is exactly the point. The article focuses on Sheryl Swoopes, the basketball star with one sentence noting that her partner, Alisa Scott, is helping her coach the team and raise her son. The completely matter-of-fact nature of the article is a model for how it should be. The reaction of the folks at Overlake School to having Sheryl Swoopes, an out lesbian, and her partner coaching middle school girls is a model for other schools about how to focus on what is important when hiring a coach. Does she have the basketball credentials? What kind of person is she? Will she be a good role model for our young people?

If only more high school and collegiate programs would follow the lead of the Overlake School Middle School Girls, their parents and the school athletic administrator, John Wiley. If they did, maybe more lesbian coaches would feel safe being more open about who they are.


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