The First Powerhouse of the WNBA: The Houston Comets

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Photo credit: theuptownlounge.com

Although Women’s History month has concluded, the history that many women have made continues to lives on. When it comes to the sports arena and its powerhouses and dynasties, the discussion is usually one-dimensional, strictly focusing on the men’s side; for example, the team sport of basketball. Although the UCONN women’s basketball team is an exception of this separation – due to its garnering of coverage in part of its dominance – the Huskies are still considered second-class citizens in a male dominated industry. Whether sports fanatics want to admit it or not, UCONN is the greatest basketball dynasty at the collegiate level thus far, in regards to statistics not gender. With his 11th national championship this past season, head coach Geno Auriemma surpassed John Wooden for most titles by any head coach in NCAA basketball.

The Huskies also became the first D1 women’s basketball team to win four consecutive titles, has completed six perfect seasons and nine undefeated seasons. There are many documentaries that tell the stories of great men’s college basketball dynasties: “The Fab Five,” “Running Rebels of UNLV,” “Survive and Advance” and many more. It’ll be interesting to see once the UCONN dominance comes to an end, if there’ll be a special film documenting what that program, its players and its coach have done, not only for women’s basketball, but for the game itself.

Now, let’s move on to the professional level where the discussions of great sports dynasties are limited to the NBA. There are many sports documentaries, films, shows and analysts to educate the current sport generation about the great teams and players that came before this time: Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics won 11 NBA titles during the Red Auerbach era, a series of documentaries covering the LA Lakers, Isaiah Thomas and the Detroit “Bad Boys” Pistons and Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Furthermore, almost every team has a big three who leads it to winning a championship; for example, in the modern age of the game, the Celtics had Allen, Pierce and Garnett; the Heat had James, Wade and Bosh; and the Spurs have Parker, Duncan and Ginobil. However, it seems as if “they forgot about Dre.” Continue reading “The First Powerhouse of the WNBA: The Houston Comets”

I Used to Love Him: From a Player’s to a Coach’s Perspective – The Finale

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Coach K and Coach Young after a double-digit semifinal victory over Evans to advance to the championship game to face Prairie Cove.

“Can I kick it? Yes, you can! Well, I’m gone!”… Now, don’t get me wrong, I know kids will be kids; rather, teens will be teens. And we did have some great times with the girls; we would horseplay with them, practice with them (to help make them better and because we would always be short-handed) and we would would discuss what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of them wanted to be accountants, veterinarians, as well as pursue other professions. So, we stressed how important it was for them to be respectful and to put their best foot forward in the classroom.

Again, I can’t speak for Coach K, but coaching brought about mixed emotions: I was fresh out of graduate school transitioning into corporate America – or the “real world” as it’s so often referred to – so I was still figuring out the woman I was and the woman I wanted to become. It’s tougher than people realize to be yourself and have fun, as well as be an authoritarian at the same time. On one hand, you’re relatable to the girls because of the small age difference; on the other hand, the small age difference causes both the coaches and players to get beside themselves.

Even though the girls didn’t know our exact ages, they knew we were young; so, sometimes they got too comfortable. On the flip side, K and I didn’t just see the girls as our players, but as our little sisters: we loved them and wanted to see them do well. But, when your little sister gets out of line, you want to jack her up. Then, reality kicks in – they’re someone else’s child, you’re the child’s coach and you can’t jack them up… I learned this the hard way. Lol.

Nevertheless, K and I still wanted to show the parents and players a token of our appreciation for senior night  (the last home game of the regular season where the 8th graders are recognized for their service as a student-athlete). We only had two 8th graders so K and I wanted to honor all the girls. We were last minute pulling things together, and I’ll take most of the blame because K mentioned it early in the season, but I put it off. We were running out of time and we didn’t have a clue of what to get the girls that was within our budget and that would be ready by senior night. On top of this, K grew ill and informed me she was going to miss senior night. Not only were we going to be empty-handed, but I was going to look bad by myself. Lol. Oh, but God worked it out like he always does!

A few weeks prior, the girls had taken individual and team photos, but the photographer didn’t know if he would have them ready in time – he surprised me with the photos the day of the game; the athletic director had some blank certificates that I had signed to go with the pictures; and, the AD covered the cost of having food catered so we could feed the players and their parents… Ayyee, God is good!!

Although I wanted things to be a lot more organized as far as presentation and everybody being on the same page, everything still went well. However – being that we had a long break before the championship tournament and it was the last game the 8th graders would play in that gym – I expected a better performance than the girls put out. Granted, I allowed players like Jamie and DJ to play sooner and longer than they usually did due to it being senior night, so I’m sure it disrupted our normal rhythm. But hey, a win is a win and we finished the regular season 14-0. Continue reading “I Used to Love Him: From a Player’s to a Coach’s Perspective – The Finale”

I Used to Love Him: From a Player’s to a Coach’s Perspective Part II

March 6, 2016 111
Coach Young and Coach K after a 30-20 victory at home against Beckenfield. The Lady Wolverines advanced to 10-0.

Around the same time Hart made her exit, we also lost one of our role players, Elle. She played volleyball and decided to give basketball a try. She wasn’t a bad player but she dealt with behavioral issues as well. She was actually suspended twice. The first time was for flipping over a desk after she received a grade that wasn’t to her liking. After the first offense, I spoke with her mom and we agreed that she shouldn’t be removed from the team. Her mom would handle her at home and K and I would discipline her at practice once she returned from her suspension.

Well, her first day back, she was suspended again for “inappropriate” behavior, to my understanding. Although Coach K and I hadn’t known her that long, it hurt our hearts to know that one of our players was participating in extracurricular activities (other than sports) and doing it at school. Let’s be real, when I was in middle school, some of my peers were doing the same things in school too. This generation is no different. It’s sad, but true.

With preparation for the season being rushed, K and I didn’t have a chance to have a girl talk. Better yet, we didn’t have a chance to have a Truth talk. Most kids that age participate in sexual activity to fit in or because they’re lacking something at home and they try to fill a void that leaves them even more empty. Only Christ can make us whole and complete. Once I looked back on it, looking for love and trying to fit in was the case for Elle because apparently this behavior had been going on for quite some time. The sad part was that we had to hear it from our own players.

So, we used that as a small teaching moment to let the girls know that wasn’t the lifestyle Christ wanted for them and to stay focused on Him, school and basketball. We encouraged the girls to grow in their relationship with Christ by making them take turns praying after practices and games and explaining to them why we did so. Maybe it would’ve made a difference for Elle if we had the conversation sooner. I called her mom to get to the bottom of the situation but she didn’t answer or call back, of course. Yet again, another player’s career ended before it could begin. Continue reading “I Used to Love Him: From a Player’s to a Coach’s Perspective Part II”

I Used to Love Him: From a Player’s to a Coach’s Perspective Part I

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Photo Credit: atownrebels.com

Before Kobe ever started exposing The Game, I already had these feelings. They started years ago but were rekindled September 2015 when I saw the “Brown Sugar” film at least three times (the third times a charm, right?). Little did I know how it foreshadowed what I’ve been inspired to write today. I’m Sidney Shaw writing the pages to my book of life that I’ve lived and I’m currently living… mastering my thoughts, piecing them together to create a master piece. The Game is my Dre and I’ve learned to rhyme my own verses without his Beats. #CatchThat

I’d had an off and on situation-ship with The Game for 15 years before I decided to walk away. I realized it was unhealthy for me mentally, physically and spiritually. Then, last September, I re-encountered The Game. Not to my surprise, but he now had teenage daughters – I met him when I was young so I figured he was creeping behind my back – who he spent a lot of time with, showing them love and attention. Women love to see men interacting with their daughters. It took me back to why I fell in love with The Game in the first place. I was experiencing that “Newness” like Musiq SoulChild because “everything is cool when love is all brand new, you learning me and  I’m learning you.” The Game is so smooth like Kem because before I knew it, I was asking myself “how did he find his way back in my life?”

I had just graduated with my master’s in Communication and Information Sciences from The University of Alabama in August 2015. I was doing my due-diligence networking and launching my career, but I couldn’t trade God’s timing for my deadline. So, while I was going through my “waiting” period, I knew the best way to get my mind off myself was to help someone else. I reached out to a former high school teammate and good friend of mine (Coach T) who was the head coach of the girls basketball team at Rambling Middle School. Basketball season was about to tip-off so I figured she wouldn’t mind some extra help with tryouts and practice. It gave me something to do for two hours of my day. During this time, I saw the love The Game’s daughters had for him and their liking for me because of my past relationship with him. Knowing my rough history with him, I can’t believe Coach T still allowed me to get emotionally attached to his daughters (some friend, huh? Lol). Mainly because of his daughters, I fell back in love with him.

Some short time later, T revealed to me that she had a job offer in another state and that she planned to take it as long as everything was cleared. Since things weren’t set in stone, she hadn’t told the team yet, so she had to continue as if she was going to be there for the season. I was happy for T. On the other hand, I thought it was bad timing for her to leave after we had gone through tryouts, were practicing and the season was about to start. Not to mention, the team went undefeated and won its league championship the year before and had a strong chance to repeat. But, I couldn’t be upset with T for wanting to move on with her life.  Continue reading “I Used to Love Him: From a Player’s to a Coach’s Perspective Part I”

Huffman Hosts Annual MLK Viking Classic

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Photo credit: Huffman Vikings

Huffman High School’s basketball program will host its annual MLK Viking Classic Saturday. Fourteen high school and six middle school teams representing Alabama and Georgia will compete in the one-day event.

Instead of a traditional tournament, where teams play multiple games, each team will play in a single game. The Classic is designed for top teams and players from different states to have the opportunity to compete on one, large platform.

In a press release, Huffman High School Principal John Lyons Jr. said the showcase will be an exciting day of basketball featuring teams that don’t typically compete, and it will give them the opportunity to develop new skills and strategies. Continue reading “Huffman Hosts Annual MLK Viking Classic”

Woodlawn: The Triumph of Tony Nathan

Before Bo Jackson, one of Birmingham’s first African American football stars was Tony Nathan.

The All-American running back’s rise to stardom during his junior season in 1973, along with the arrival of Head Coach Tandy Gerelds in 1971, led to the Woodlawn Colonels serving as catalysts for change and garnering crowds of thousands for game nights.

The 2015 “Woodlawn” documents Nathan’s struggle to balance his athletic skills and faith while battling racial anxiety on and off the field. The film also highlights the rivalry between the former Banks High School and Woodlawn High School. Many of the former Banks and Woodlawn players went on to play college football at SEC schools (mainly Alabama and Auburn) and professionally in the NFL.

But, one of Woodlawn’s most prominent alums is Bobby Bowden, who led Florida State to two national championships in the midst of becoming the winningest coach in college football history. Continue reading “Woodlawn: The Triumph of Tony Nathan”

In Tanner’s Words: The Journey to Playing Professional Basketball Part II


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Photocredit: trackemtigers.com

It’s no secret that most hoop dreams don’t come true. But for Tyrese Tanner, she arrived, she saw and she conquered everything she has envisioned doing.

Like many other female basketball players, her dream was to play in the WNBA when she was younger, but as she grew older her vision changed.
But, not before playing for one of Alabama’s most elite AAU basketball clubs in the AL Twisters and top high school girls’ programs in Hoover High School where she was a standout.
As a 6-foot-1 forward, Tanner finished high school as the No. 2 Super Senior in the state and signed with Auburn University.

“I chose Auburn because it’s a family oriented university. The people around campus are whole-hearted and welcoming. I also didn’t want to travel too far from home. I was far enough to where I had a little freedom, but close enough to get home if there was an emergency.”

While at AU, Tanner had an impressive four-your stint. During her early years on campus, she worked to diversify her game. She used her size and length to her advantage. Many post players in the SEC were taller than her, so she could put the ball on the floor to blow by them and use her size to post smaller guards. These attributes along with the ability to shoot the deep ball, make free throws, pass and rebound, block shots, jump passing lanes for steals and run the floor like a track star blossomed Tanner into a hot commodity to professional scouts. Continue reading “In Tanner’s Words: The Journey to Playing Professional Basketball Part II”

“Coaches Got Game Too” Recap

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Photo credits: Midfield Patriots Basketball

Some of the finest Birmingham Metro Area high school basketball coaches showed up and showed out for the first ever “Coaches Got Game Too” basketball game.

The main goal was to raise funds for Midfield High School’s basketball programs. Pulling in a nice crowd, the event did just that and Midfield boys head coach and sponsor Darrell Barber says he plans to make the game an annual event. http://wp.me/p4cFCW-hR

Ironically, the game was held on the same day as the first ever Triumph Awards that aired on TV One. During the show, rapper T.I. performed a spoken word piece that concluded with the words, “united we stand.” The Triumph Awards’ sole purpose was to honor those who have positively impacted their communities and industries. In the same way, one of the intentions of the basketball game was to unite high school coaches in the BMA and show that they could come together for a great cause, because just as the Swahili proverb says, “unity is strength and and division is weakness.” Continue reading ““Coaches Got Game Too” Recap”

Mustangs Looking to Make Playoffs for First Time in 16 Years

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Photo credit: Jackson Olin Mustangs

The Jackson Olin High School football team hasn’t made the playoffs since 1999, but the Mustangs are hoping to turn things around this season.

Currently holding a record of 3-3, the Mustangs are only two wins away from exceeding last season’s win column. However, anything less than making it to the playoffs and competing for a championship is a letdown for J.O.

Offensive Line Coach Terrence Swift believes this year will be a breakthrough season for the team.

“The program has evolved over the years and the offensive line is improving week by week. I’m proud of the guys for working hard and I believe we’re ready to take things to the next level and make it to the playoffs,” Swift says.

J.O. has seen strides of improvement since head coach Tim Vakakes took over three years ago. Continue reading “Mustangs Looking to Make Playoffs for First Time in 16 Years”