The WNBA is where top female basketball players can transition from college to professional women’s basketball, but before that the way to develop was to play for international teams and play in the Olympics.
Teresa Edwards did both! Plus she played for a short time with the Minnesota Lynx in 2003-2004, while also acting as the interim head coach for the Tulsa Shock in 2011.
From her college days of playing basketball at the University of Georgia, where her college jersey is retired in the Circle of Honor, to the international stage Teresa paved the way for WNBA stars like Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and many others. Her involvement, passion and commitment to the game that she loves make her among the most influential players in basketball.
She has been a player, a coach, and last year she was chosen to be the Chef de Mission for the 2012 United States Olympic Committee. An honor only assigned to those that have proven to be an accomplished athlete in their sport. The (5) Olympic medals (four gold and one bronze), many international medals, Olympic Hall of Fame honors, and induction in the 2011 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame made her the ideal candidate.
[Quick fact: Teresa Edwards is the youngest (1984), and the oldest (2000) U.S. Olympic basketball player to win a gold medal.]
To add to this impressive list of accomplishments a week ago FIBA (the International Basketball Federation or the Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball) Hall of Fame announced that Edwards will be part of the 2013 Class of Inductees. Joining her is David Robinson “The Admiral” and Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history. This is one the highest international honors a basketball professional can achieve for their success on and off the court.
See Teresa’s FIBA profile here: http://www.halloffame.fiba.com/pages/eng/hof/news/p/newsid/55757/arti.html
Edwards was also ranked 22 in Sports Illustrated Magazine 100 Greatest Female Athletes in 2000.
Teresa has a busy schedule and still does many things with the WNBA and the NBA Cares program, which is how I had the honor of meeting her, as she was a part of a Habitat for Humanity event in New York City. She shared her time and knowledge with everyone, especially the kids. Her enthusiasm and passion for life was noticed by all in attendance.
Her confidence in herself and the mannerism in which she carried herself such an impact on me I reached out to her to bring this question and answer session to the fans at 1495 Sports. With these answers, Edwards shares her thoughts on basketball, the Olympics and what makes her a normal person versus a celebrity.
* How did you get your start in basketball?
I was very active; “a modern day tomboy” would be most accurate. I played every sport under the sun that the boys would let me play. I soared in basketball well beyond the boys my age and the rest was history.
* Who were your influences- male or female?
All my influences in sport were male figures… my first love was Julius “Dr. J” Erving! He was a great influence and I wanted to do everything I saw him do. Of course Michael Jordan will be forever the greatest EVER! I could totally relate to his competitive heart for the game. But my greatest influence came from my mother… her love, her survival, her heart for her kids, and her ability to be smarter than me although I’m the one with the college degree.
* What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in life and/or basketball?
There are so many, trust me! Life is an everyday challenge for everyone so to list anything would be to make excuses. Just gotta keep getting up to give your best believing in yourself. I guess I’ve been living my dream on the basketball courts! Now the real challenge has come for me to dream more dreams and to realize them off the courts. I didn’t realize this until I retired from the game but acceptance of what’s meant for you allows for success. I’ve never wanted to be like someone else nor have I desired what others may have.
* What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I have not achieved it yet!
* What current or up and coming players are on your radar?
Brittany Griner – Baylor / Elena Delle Donne – Delaware University
Greatness on the horizon if they are competitive enough to challenge themselves to improve.
* Any advice for young female athletes today?
Look ahead and find your future before you come off the court.
* Are there any changes or improvements that you would like to see to further promote women’s basketball or women’s sports in general?
Of course… let’s just start with salaries and equal opportunities! That’s enough to fix for one lifetime.
* How were you selected to be the Chef de Mission of the 2012 Team USA in the XXX Olympiad?
Voted upon by a board. It was a very prestigious title.
* As the ambassador for the USA in the Summer Olympics, what did you hope to achieve for yourself and the players?
The “Chef de Mission” role was to be the representative of the entire delegation. My role was to act as a captain/ambassador. I simply wanted the USA to do what we do best… WIN!
* Through your work as Chef de Mission what would you like to change or educate people about?
My goal was to close the gap on our international relations around the world. Our arrogance has finally caught up with us and now that the world feels they can live without us we’re getting the cold shoulder. Traveling abroad is not always friendly skies so I would like to help change that if I can. I feel I’m a child of the world because of God not because I’m an American but it’s going to take a lot of work to convince the world to share and love one another without prejudices.
* What did you pack for that trip?
I packed the basics and business attire. I received processing which geared me up with all our Olympic sponsors’ products from head to toe.
* Has there been a time you stepped outside your comfort zone and it changed your life? If yes, what was it? If not, what would you do?
Not sure how to answer this because I pride myself on being spontaneous and open to try different things. My life of traveling has cultured me and I truly embrace differences because somehow it has always led to growth.
*What do you still want to accomplish in life?
Better education for our children, and [better] finances and new challenges for women sports in America.
* There is a saying that failures along the road to your goals are simply opportunities to learn and grow. What were some of your failures that actually made you better?
In short… losing always made me better, stronger, swifter and faster!
*What is your happiest childhood moment?
My mother’s food, love & support at all my sporting events. My dad’s hugs, laughter from his own jokes and his singing (God rest his soul).
* If you could choose a theme song to describe Teresa Edwards what would it be?
I have a few being a R&B/Gospel freak but these two would be my National Anthem: 1-“It’s the God in Me” by, Mary Mary, 2- “Paid my dues” by Anastacia.
* What is your exercise regiment to stay in shape?
I’m so out of shape by my standards it’s sad. However, post competition years, I loved doing more cardio at average speeds, and weights for body structure and not for strength. (Where can I ball and work out in NY? I need a gym membership like yesteryear! On a $0.00 budget please.)
* Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself that the average fan may not know? (Could be something serious, fun, quirky)
Not really…. I talk too much as it is, so when you see me say ‘Hello’!
*The latest thing going on with you?
On June 19th in Geneva, Switzerland I will be inducted into the FIBA Hall Of Fame (International). What can I say besides… Blessed and still living for a better tomorrow.
In closing this Q & A make Teresa Edwards part of your sports lexicon of athletes that truly played for the love of the game! Congratulations to Teresa on her latest achievements, and best wishes for continued success.
She reminds us: “Dream with faith people and keep evolving!”
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