Sheryl Swoopes

Sheryl Swoopes

Swoopes at the 2014 World Basketball Festival
Personal information
Born (1971-03-25) March 25, 1971
Brownfield, Texas
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Listed weight 145 lb (66 kg)
Career information
High school Brownfield (Brownfield, Texas)
WNBA draft 1997 / Allocated
Selected by the Houston Comets
Playing career 1997–2011
Position Shooting guard / Small forward
Number 22
Coaching career 2009–present
Career history
As player:
1997–2007 Houston Comets
2008 Seattle Storm
2011 Tulsa Shock
As coach:
2009–2010 Mercer Island HS (asst.)
2013–2016 Loyola (Chicago)
Career highlights and awards

Sheryl Denise Swoopes (born March 25, 1971)[1] is a retired American professional basketball player. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA,[2] is a three-time WNBA MVP, and was named one of the league's Top 15 Players of All Time at the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game. Swoopes has won three Olympic gold medals. She was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.[3]

Early success

Born in Brownfield, Texas, Swoopes was raised by her mother Louise Swoopes and played basketball with her three older brothers.[4] She began competing at age seven in a local children's league called Little Dribblers.[5] She played basketball at Brownfield High School.[6]

College years

Initially recruited by the University of Texas, Swoopes left the school shortly after her arrival without playing a game, and enrolled at South Plains College. After playing at South Plains for two years, Swoopes transferred to Texas Tech.[4]

In 1993, Swoopes won the NCAA women's basketball championship with the Texas Tech Lady Raiders during her senior season. Her jersey was retired by the school the following year, making her one of only three Lady Raiders to be honored in this way. The others are Carolyn Thompson and Krista Kirkland, Swoopes' teammate from the 1993 championship team.[7]

As of 2010, Swoopes was still a part of the NCAA women's basketball record books in many categories, including single-game scoring record (53 points on March 13, 1993 vs. Texas, tied for tenth place), single-season scoring (955 points in the 1993 season, fourth place), highest championship tournament scoring average (35.4 in the 1993 tournament, second place), best single-game championship scoring performance (47 points vs. Ohio State,[8] 1993 championship), which broke Bill Walton's record,[4] and scoring record for championship series (177 points, five games). She set the record for the most field goals in the championship game with 16.[9]

Swoopes also set several school records at Texas Tech. She scored 955 points in the 1992–93 season, which is an all-time scoring record for a single season (as of 2006). Swoopes' 24.9 points-per-game average for her career is the best in school history; she also boasts three triple-doubles and 23 double-doubles, 14 of which came during her senior year.[10]

Swoopes was the 1993 winner of the Naismith College Player of the Year award, was selected as that year's WBCA Player of the Year, and was chosen to the Division I All-American squad in both 1992 and 1993. Swoopes was named the 1993 Sportswoman of the Year (in the team category) by the Women's Sports Foundation.[11]

USA Basketball

Swoopes was named to the USA national team and competed in the 1994 World Championships, held in June 1994 in Sydney, Australia. The team was coached by Tara VanDerveer, and won their first six games, when they faced Brazil. In a closely contested, high-scoring game, Brazil hit 10 of 10 free throws in the final minute to secure a 110–107 victory. The USA won a close final game against Australia 100–95 to earn the bronze medal. Swoopes averaged 9.1 points per game, while recording seven steals, second-highest on the team.[12]

Swoopes was selected to represent the USA at the 1995 USA Women's Pan American Games, but only four teams committed to participate, so the event was cancelled.[13]

Swoopes continued as a member of the USA team at the 1996 Olympics, held in Atlanta, Georgia. The USA team won all their pool play games by large margins, although they were behind Cuba by as many as seven points before Lisa Leslie's 24 points helped the USA take over the game. [14]

In 2002, Swoopes was named to the national team which competed in the World Championships in Zhangjiagang, Changzhou, and Nanjing, China. The team was coached by Van Chancellor. Swoopes scored 16.9 points per game, second-highest on the team and recorded a team-high 24 steals. The USA team won all nine games, including a close title game against Russia, which had a one-point difference late in the game.[15]

Swoopes was named to the National Team representing the USA at the 2006 World Championships, held in Barueri and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The team won eight of their nine contests, but the lone loss came in the semifinal medal round to Russia. The USA beat Brazil in the final game to earn the bronze medal. Swoopes, hampered by injuries, averaged 3.0 points per game and was second on the team with six blocks.[16]

WNBA career

Swoopes for the Seattle Storm in 2008

Swoopes was recruited for the Houston Comets of the WNBA during the 1997 inaugural season. She returned only six weeks after giving birth to her son to play the last third of the WNBA inaugural season[17] and lead the Comets in the 1997 WNBA Championship. As a member of the Houston Comets, she has accumulated over 2,000 career points, 500 career rebounds, 300 career assists, and 200 career steals. Her extraordinary scoring and defensive ability have made her the first three-time WNBA MVP (2000, 2002, 2005) and the first three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (2000, 2002, 2003). Swoopes is a four-time WNBA champion (1997–2000).

Swoopes 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. The first player to accomplish this was Lisa Leslie. Swoopes is also the first player in WNBA history to record a playoff triple-double.

Swoopes gained national prominence when she won the gold medal with the USA Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Olympic Games and became a focal point of the fledgling WNBA. The 1996 Olympic win over Brazil (117–87) is considered by some to be the "best woman's basketball game they'd ever seen."[18] She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist (1996, 2000, 2004).

Swoopes is the first women's basketball player to have a Nike shoe named after her: the "Air Swoopes".[4]

On March 3, 2008, Swoopes signed with the Seattle Storm, ending her 11-year career with the Houston Comets. She was waived by the Storm on February 3, 2009.[19]

Two days after her 40th birthday in 2011, sources for the Associated Press claimed that Swoopes was preparing to return to the WNBA in anticipation of an official signing announcement from the Tulsa Shock.[20][21] At the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game, she was announced as one of the top 15 players in the 15-year history of the WNBA.[22]

On August 26, 2011, the 40-year-old Swoopes hit a buzzer-beating shot to edge the Los Angeles Sparks 77–75 and end the Shock's WNBA-record 20-game losing streak.[23]

Swoopes became an unrestricted free agent after the 2011 season: Tulsa Shock owner Steve Swetoha announced on 15 February 2012 that the team did not intend to offer Swoopes a new contract.[24] As of the beginning of the 2012 preseason on 5 May, Swoopes remained an unsigned free agent. While no official announcement has been made, when Swoopes began blogging at the Shape magazine website during the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, she identified herself as "a former professional basketball player."[25]

International career


Post-basketball playing career

In 2008, Sheryl Swoopes made an appearance on Shirts & Skins, a reality series on Logo TV. Swoopes mentored the San Francisco Rockdogs, a gay basketball team, and shared her experiences on basketball, family, faith, and coming out.[27]

In 2010, Swoopes was an assistant basketball coach at Mercer Island High School in Washington.[28]

Swoopes was a color analyst for the Texas Tech women's basketball broadcast during the 2012–2013 season.[29]

In 2013, Swoopes became head coach of the Loyola University Chicago women's basketball team. In April 2016, Loyola announced that it was investigating Swoopes of alleged mistreatment, after the school newspaper reported that 10 of the team's players have either transferred or want a release from their scholarships.[28][30] On July 4, 2016, Loyola announced it had fired Swoopes as a result of the investigation but declined to say what it had found.[31]

Personal life

Swoopes was married from June 1995 to 1999 to her high school sweetheart, with whom she has one son, Jordan Eric Jackson (b. 1997).

In October 2005 announced she was gay, becoming one of the highest-profile athletes in a team sport to do so publicly. Swoopes said, "it doesn't change who I am. I can't help who I fall in love with. No one can. ... Discovering I'm gay just sort of happened much later in life. Being intimate with [Alisa] or any other woman never entered my mind. At the same time, I'm a firm believer that when you fall in love with somebody, you can't control that."[32] She and her partner, former basketball player and Houston Comets assistant coach Alisa Scott, together raised Swoopes' son.[33] The couple broke up in 2011. Swoopes later that year got engaged to Chris Unclesho, a longtime male friend.[34][35]

Awards and honors

Swoopes won the female Associated Press Athlete of the Year award in 1993. The same year, she also won the Honda Sports Award for basketball.[36] She was named one of the 20 female athletes of the decade for 2000 to 2010 by Sports Illustrated. She was named an LGBT History Month Icon by the Equality Forum.[37]

WNBA career statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game  RPG  Rebounds per game
 APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game  BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game
 TO  Turnovers per game  FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 Bold  Career high League leader

Regular season


Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Loyola Ramblers (Missouri Valley Conference) (2013–2016)
2013–14 Loyola (Chicago) 11–21 6–12 8th
2014–15 Loyola (Chicago) 6–25 3–15 9th
2015–16 Loyola (Chicago) 14–16 10–8 5th
Loyola (Chicago): 31–62 19–35
Total: 31–62


  1. "Women's Basketball Coaches Career". NCAA. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  2. "WNBA's Greatest Moments". Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  3. "Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Announcement presented by Haggar Clothing Company". Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. April 4, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Porter p 464
  5. "Sheryl Swoopes Playerfile". Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  6. Glass, Ray (June 27, 1999). "Overcoming the Odds". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  7. "Tech Hall of Honor Inducts New Class of Six". Retrieved December 3, 2007.
  8. Grundy p 217
  9. "Championship records remembered". NCAA. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  10. "Vote in our online poll: Sheryl Swoopes and Carolyn Thompson". The Daily Toreador. April 4, 2007.
  11. "Sportswoman of the Year". Women’s Sports Foundation. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
  12. "Twelvth [sic] World Championship For Women -- 1994". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  13. "Twelvth [sic] Pan American Games -- 1995". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  14. "Games of the XXVIth Olympiad – 1996". USA Basketball. Retrieved July 3, 2010.
  15. "Fourteenth World Championship For Women -- 2002". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  16. "Fifteenth World Championship For Women -- 2006". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  17. [httwswds 24, 2009
  18. Grundy p 216
  19. Sheryl Swoopes Waived by WNBA Storm, February 3, 2009
  20. Feinberg, Doug (March 27, 2011), "AP Source: Swoopes to sign with Tulsa Shock", Kansas City Star
  21. "Sheryl Swoopes Signs with Tulsa". Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  22. Stanchak, Scott (July 24, 2011). "Roundtable Discussion: WNBA Top 15 Players of All Time". Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  23. Archived October 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. Lantz, Jessica (February 16, 2012). "Gary Kloppenburg's Plans For The Tulsa Shock Do Not Include Sheryl Swoopes, Betty Lennox". Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  25. Swoopes, Sheryl (July 27, 2012). "Olympic Fever Starts Now!". Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  26. "Associated Press via, "Swoopes Replaces Wisdom-Hylton," January 6, 2010". January 6, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  27. "Sister Swoopes (Skins & Skins: Episode 4)". Retrieved 2011-11-21.
  28. 1 2 Ryan, Shannon (April 15, 2016). "Loyola to investigate complaints about Sheryl Swoopes after mass transfers". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  29. "Sheryl Swoopes joins Texas Tech women's basketball broadcast team for 2012–13". November 8, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  30. Finley, Patrick (April 15, 2016). "Loyola to investigate its coach, Hall of Famer Sheryl Swoopes". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  31. Wire, SI. "Loyola fires Sheryl Swoopes after investigation". Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  32. LZ Granderson (October 28, 2008). "Three-time MVP 'tired of having to hide my feelings'". ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved December 11, 2008.
  33. Blaine Harden (July 26, 2008). "Washington State Upholds Ban on Same-Sex Marriage". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 22, 2008.
  35. "Maya Rupert: What Sheryl Swoopes' Engagement Means: Understanding the Role of Identity and Combo Guards". August 1, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  36. "PAST HONDA SPORTS AWARD WINNERS FOR BASKETBALL". THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  37. "Sheryl Swoopes". April 17, 2016. Equality Forum.

Further reading

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