Friday, September 11, 2009

C. Vivian Stringer Enters Basketball Hall Of Fame

Despite all the hype, Michael Jordan isn't the only person getting inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA today.

The Class of 2009 also includes David Robinson, John Stockton, Jerry Sloan and one of my fave women's basketball coaches, C. Vivian Stringer of Rutgers.

"To be a part of history and stand there and have your name in the same sentence as all those people who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame is nothing short of earth-shattering to me," Stringer said. "To think about those names and what they've done. They are even greater people than they are athletes if that's possible."

During her 38 year career spanning four decades, Stringer has led three separate teams to the Final Four and is the third winningest coach in women's college basketball.

Her 825-280 career mark puts her behind only Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Jody Conradt of Texas on the career victories list. In addition to being the 11th women's basketball coach inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, she's also a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame;

Her coaching career started in 1973 at Pennsylvania's Cheyney State University. Stringer took over a newly minted program and during her 12 years there guided the school to the Final Four in 1982.

Stringer moved on to Iowa, where she also stayed for 12 seasons. She took the Hawkeyes to the Final Four in 1993 before leaving for her current position at Rutgers.

Sports Illustrated named Stringer in 2003 one of the most 101 Influential Minorities in Sports and she has written an autobiography entitled, "Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph."

Thar tragedy included her daughter Janine contracting spinal meningitis during the year of her 1982 trip to the Final Four with Cheyney State. Her husband Bill died of a heart attack on Thanksgiving Day 1992 at age 47 during the season her Iowa squad made it to the 1993 Final Four.

She's been an inspirational figure for not only the young women she coached, but off the court as well. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in recognition of her remarkable life bestowed an honorary membership on her in 2008.

Her off the court leadership came to the forefront in 2007 in the wake of shock jock Don Imus infamous comments aimed at the team she coached.

She turned it into a teachable moment that captured the nation's attention, jump started a dialogue on the ways that women are disrespected in addition to garnering an apology to the team from Imus.

She'll be introduced at the ceremony by her good friend John Chaney. They met when he was coaching the Cheney State men's program in the late 1970's-early 80's.

"Vivian Stringer is a true gem with exceptional courage who believes success is a marathon and as you climb you should lift others up," said Chaney, "She has been my beacon."

Congratulations, Coach Stringer. Here's hoping you finally get that elusive national championship and continue to be an inspiration to young women everywhere.

No comments: