Sheryl Denise Swoopes is a retired professional basketball player and the first player to be signed on to the WNBA when it was created. She was born on March 25, 1971 in Brownfield, Texas to Louise Swoopes. She had three older brothers with whom she grew up playing basketball. At the age of seven she joined a children’s basketball league called the Little Dribblers and also competed in the 1988 Texas State Championship. She first joined the University of Texas on a scholarship but soon left for South Plains College where she played on the basketball team for two years. She then transferred to Texas Tech in 1993 where she helped her team win the NCAA women’s basketball championship. After she graduated, her jersey was retired by the university, making her only one of three players who received this honor.
She holds a number of records in the NCAA, including highest points scored in a game, highest points scored in a season and highest Championship Tournament scoring average. She also holds several records at Texas Tech including all-time scoring record for a single season. In 1993, Sheryl Swoopes won the Naismith College Player of the Year award, the WBCA Player of the Year and Sportswoman of the Year Award by the Women’s Sports Foundation. She was also selected to the Division I All American squad in 1992 and 1993.
Sheryl Swoopes was selected as a member of the USA national team with whom she competed in the World Championships in June 1994, which were hosted in Sydney, Australia. Team USA won the bronze medal at the championships. She was also part of the Olympic squad in 1996, winning the Gold medal and being the third leading scorer in the team. She was a major contributor in the team’s historic win over Brazil, which has been described by many as the most well contested women’s basketball game in recent times. She was also part of the winning squad in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, making her a three time Olympic Gold medalist.
The WNBA was created in 1997, and she was recruited by the Houston Comets. She missed most of the season as she had just given birth to her first child, but returned shortly to play the last few games of the season. In her career with the WNBA, she has scored more than 2000 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals. She has been named the WNBA Most Valuable Player three times in 2000, 2002 and 2005 and the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2000, 2002 and 2003, making her the first WNBA player to win this award thrice. She won the WNBA championships four times with the Houston Comets each year between 1997 and 2000.
She has won the regular season as well the All Star Game MVP award, being only the second player in WNBA to do so. She is also the first player to achieve triple double figures in the WNBA playoffs. In March 2008, she signed with the team “Seattle Storm” with whom she played for a year. In 2011, she was named as one of the top 15 players in WNBA history. After this she became a free agent, but has since retired from the game. Sheryl Swoopes currently serves as the head coach of the women’s basketball team at Loyola University Chicago.