by Maggie Mertens, contributing columnist
When Noelle Quinn was suddenly named the head coach of the Seattle Storm earlier this month after Dan Hughes’ retirement, it was historic. In a league where the vast majority of the players are Black women, Quinn is the first Black head coach for the Storm and brings the total number of Black women current head coaches in the WNBA up to two. Women coaches, and especially Black women coaches, are vastly underrepresented in professional sports.
Since the WNBA began in 1997, there have been 86 head coaches. Forty-four have been women. When the league debuted with eight teams, six head coaches were women. In the years since, that percentage has gone down. At the beginning of the 2021 season, there were just four women head coaches in the WNBA out of 12 teams. Quinn’s appointment brings that tally up to five. Last year there were zero Black women head coaches in the WNBA. Quinn became just the 19th Black woman head coach in the league’s history.
Quinn noted in her first press conference after the announcement of her promotion that she felt the significance of that history. She listed off all of those 18 Black women head coaches who came before her: “You talk about Pokey Chatman, Teresa Edwards, Jennifer Gillom, Carolyn Jenkins, Vickie Johnson, Trudi Lacey, Cynthia Cooper, Cheryl Miller, Carolyn Peck, Julie Rousseau, Amber Stocks, Karleen Thompson, Shell Dailey, Jessie Kenlaw, Cathy Parson, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Denise Taylor, and Penny Toler,” Quinn said. “They crawled, so I can walk. I sit on those shoulders … For me, it’s important that I’m not just a woman — I’m a Black woman.”
Continue reading OPINION: Noelle Quinn and the Importance of Black Women Coaches in the WNBA