The event took place at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four weekend festivities.
Interest in women’s college basketball continues to soar across the country, with games pulling in record television viewers. The Iowa-South Carolina game on Friday night averaged a whopping 5.5 million viewers, surging 72% in ratings from last year.
The Mavs decided to join forces with the WOC Coaches Network after learning that the Women’s Final Four would be in Dallas this year. Dallas Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall and other Mavs executives have participated in various events all weekend.
Marshall told the coaches that she is guided by three main principles: “listen, learn and love. Through that, great things can happen.” She said the Mavs were thrilled to recognize the tremendous work of Black female coaches who continue to transcend the game.
The goal of the WOC Coaches Network “is to bring like-minded women together to create a support system and share information,” one executive said. The organization hosts monthly Zoom meets and a yearly retreat to fellowship and unite with other Black female coaches and allies. They discuss the game, culture, mothering, mentoring and other topics. Leaders say the idea was born from a desire to create a “genuine trusting network where Women of Color coaches collaborate, advocate, empower, and mentor one another.”
Dallas Wings standout Arike Ogunbowale opened the awards ceremony, telling the audience how exciting it is to have the Women’s Final Four in Dallas. Ogunbowale and her teammate Diamond DeShields have partnered with the Mavs for several events recently to encourage young girls and teens to pursue their dreams.
“Dallas has become my home,” Ogunbowale said, “and I’ve been super-welcomed by the community. It’s special to be a part of what’s happening here in Dallas and see the interest in women’s basketball and the community. This program honors some important women of color, and I’m excited to celebrate alongside you guys.”
Legendary women’s basketball coach Carolyn Peck was awarded the WOC Coaches Network’s 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Lifetime Achievement Award. She earned a standing ovation from her coaching peers as she stepped on stage Saturday. Peck led Purdue to the 1999 NCAA title, a breakthrough moment for Black head coaches.
She became the first Black female head coach to win a women’s basketball title. Peck will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023 later this month.
“We had four black coaches in the Sweet 16 for the first time,” Peck shared. “You know what’s great about that? We don’t have to ever announce that again because it’s becoming the norm. Others recognize that women of color, people of color, [are here to stay]. Do you know why? Because people gave us an opportunity, and with the opportunity given comes great responsibility. It’s not just for little black girls and little black boys, but for young people, so they can see you. You have your own space and deserve to be there just like everybody else.”
Marshall hosted a special fireside chat at the WOC awards ceremony with several top coaches and leaders in the game, including Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey, a former point guard, five-year WNBA veteran and national champion.
NBA fans might recognize her last name because her son, Jaden Ivey, has been outstanding with Detroit this season; just last night, he set a new franchise rookie record with his 34th straight double-double performance.
Duke University Vice President & Director of Athletics Nina King also inspired the audience during the fireside chat with her words of wisdom, along with Adia Barnes, head coach of the University of Arizona. She was the 2021 WBCA Coach of the Year finalist and 2021 Naismith Coach of the Year semifinalist after leading the Wildcats to a historic season last year.
It’s worth noting that Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks also shattered racial barriers this season. He’s currently the only Black male head coach in the Power Five and advanced to the Final Four this year.
It’s been an outstanding, historic year for women’s basketball in general, especially here in North Texas. Dallas also hosted the NCAA women’s basketball Division II and Division III championships, respectively.
City leaders say it’s a fantastic time to celebrate women’s basketball during this 50th anniversary season of Title IX.
This is just the beginning.
“Representation matters,” Marshall said, “and when people are given the opportunity, they flourish.”
Niele Ivey, University of Notre Dame
2023 ACC Conference Champions
2023 ACC Coach of the Year
Alex Simmons, Gardner Webb University
2023 Big South Conference & Tournament Champions
2023 Big South Coach of the Year
Laura Harper, Towson University
2023 Colonial Athletic Association Regular Season Co-Champions
Bridgette Mitchell, Northeastern University
2023 Colonial Athletic Association Regular Season Co-Champions
2023 CAA Coach of the Year
Billi Chambers, Iona University
2023 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champions
2023 MAAC Conference Coach of the Year
Dawn Staley, University of South Carolina
2023 SEC Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champions
2023 SEC Coach of the Year
Tomekia Reed, Jackson State University
2023 SWAC Regular Season Champions
2023 SWAC Coach of the Year
Kim McNeill, East Carolina University
2023 American Athletic Conference Tournament Champions
2023 AAC Coach of the Year
Zenarae Antoine, Texas State University
2023 Sunbelt Conference Regular Season Co-Champions
2023 Sunbelt Coach of the Year
Trelanne Powell, Tuskegee University
2023 SIAC Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champions
2023 SIAC Coach of the Year
Serena King-Coleman, Fayetteville State University
2023 CIAA Regular Season Conference Champions
Tynesha Lewis, Elizabeth City University
2023 CIAA Tournament Champions
Janice Washington, Lincoln (PA) University
2023 CIAA Coach of the Year
Felicia Hall Allen, WOC Founder and Principal of Felicia Hall Allen & Associates
Jackie Carson, Furman University, Head Coach and WOC Immediate Past President
Nikki Fargas, WNBA Champions Las Vegas Aces, President and President of the WOC
Carol Owens, University of Notre Dame, Associate Head Coach
Diane Richardson, Temple University, Head Coach
Joni Taylor, Texas A&M University, Head Coach
Coquese Washington, Rutgers University, Head Coach and Past WBCA President
Keila Whittington, St. Francis University PA, Head Coach
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