The WNBA legend joins the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens in the Class of 2019.
Teresa Weatherspoon can officially add “Hall of Famer” to her outstanding resume. Over the weekend, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that she will be inducted as part of the Class of 2019.
The former WNBA All-Star and Louisiana Tech standout thanked her parents and family for the sacrifices made on her behalf in an interview with CBS Sports’ Dana Jacobson after the announcement was made in Minneapolis.
“What can I say? It’s just tremendous,” Weatherspoon said. “My mother always told me that even when people count you out – because they did, they counted me out – and she would always say you know, don’t worry about them. Because they can’t count….So this is really for them.”
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Weatherspoon was the first WNBA player to score 1,000 points and register 1,000 assists during her career in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She retired from playing basketball in 2004 after seven seasons with the New York Liberty and one with the Los Angeles Sparks. Weatherspoon also served as the head coach for her alma mater between 2009-2014. She spent the first eight years of her pro basketball career overseas, playing in Italy, France, and Russia. But as she said after the announcement, Weatherspoon and others jumped at the chance to play pro ball at home with the creation of the WNBA.
“We as women are powerful in our gift. We are powerful in everything that we do even when we step off of the floor. We are powerful in our community,” she said. “We want our lives to be impactful, not only to little girls, but to little boys as well because they’re all dreaming. And when we got the opportunity to get in here [the U.S.] to do that, that is what we were thinking because this league is so much bigger than us. It was much bigger than us so we had to make sure that our lives touched another life.”
Weatherspoon also took to social media to show her support, along with fellow Hall of Fame member Tina Thompson.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will also induct the Wayland Baptist University Flying Queens teams from 1948-1982 into the Class. The school out of Plainview, Texas, made waves in the world of collegiate women’s basketball throughout the 20th century; it was the first school to grant women full athletic scholarships years before Title IX was implemented.
The program holds the longest winning streak in all of college basketball with 131 consecutive wins from 1953-1958. The Hutcherson Flying Queens also won 10 AAU championships in 21 years (1954-75), including four in a row in the mid-1950s.
“For an athletic program, the Naismith Hall of Fame is the zenith. It’s the top,” said Wayland athletic director Rick Cooper in a statement from the school. “It’s an honor for the program. It’s an honor for the team. It’s an honor for the girls right now who are playing for the team.”
Current Flying Queens head coach and Texas native Alesha Ellis agrees.
“To be part of a program that helped modernize the game means a lot to me,” she added. “They helped pave the way.”
The Flying Queens’ longtime coach Harley Redin, sponsor Claude Hutcherson, and five players are already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The program as a whole received recognition by the Hall of Fame in 2013. Notable Flying Queen alumnae include co-captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team Jill Rankin and former Texas A&M head coach Cherri Rapp.
“We appreciate being recognized as a leader in providing opportunities for women in sports for more than 70 years,” Rapp said in the school’s statement. “We are so grateful to coach Harley Redin who was responsible for helping change the landscape of women’s basketball.
“I would like to say thank you to the Hall of Fame for this honor.”
The Class of 2019 will officially be enshrined on Friday, September 6, as part of the Enshrinement events in Springfield, Mass., the birthplace of basketball.
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