4-Time WNBA Champion SHERYL SWOOPES – Hits the Big Screen
Gwen B. Johnson | 7/31/2013, 4:10 p.m.
Sheryl Swoopes was the first woman ever signed to play in the WNBA, the first female in the league to get a major shoe contract and now she makes history once again! This four-time WNBA champion of the Houston Comets becomes the first WNBA player to have her intriguing story chronicled as a part of ESPN’s commemoration of the groundbreaking “Nine for IX” documentary. The city of Houston, where Swoopes’ historic WNBA run began, recently was the scene for the documentary’s private screening at the historic River Oaks Theater with a pre-reception at nearby Brassiere 19.
Swoopes - a name synonymous with greatness, a name celebrated as a champion and victor, as well as a name faced with hardships and controversy drew another large crowd on this momentous stage. The compelling Nine for IX series, celebrate nine stories in honor of the 40th anniversary of Title IX and is presented through the lens of female filmmakers. In June of 1972, females and supporters nationwide heard the words, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”... and it was at that moment, women across the nation became even stronger, because of Title IX.
The theater was virtually filled to capacity and guests were on the edge of their seats as to the mystique and unknown of the production’s content. The ever-so-cool Swoopes who was looking statuesque with her ever-changing tresses and incredible high heels, commented, “I have watched the documentary many times, but I am still nervous about seeing it again.” The documentary was directed by veteran sports anchor Hannah Storm, who meshed her journalism, Texas roots, and love for sports into a compelling work of art that featured several Houston landmarks. Storm, an industry pioneer herself, is credited for being the first play-by-play announcer for the WNBA and the first female host on CNN Sports.
The documentary featured poignant profiles of Swoopes’ early life in Brownfield Texas, her collegiate and professional career which profiled the behind-the-scene adventures of the 4-time WNBA champion Houston Comets. Comets Head Coach Van Chancellor and players Cynthia Cooper, Tina Thompson and the late Kim Perrot were also featured. The series was executive produced by Robin Roberts host of ABC’s Good Morning America and former ESPN anchor, along with veteran film producer Jane Rosenthal.
Supporters in attendance were Swoopes’ mother, brothers, and a host of family members and business associates. Also in attendance were Houston’s sports journalist Dale Robertson, who was featured in the documentary, as well as ESPN the Magazine sports columnist LZ Granderson. Other attendees included Storm’s husband of nearly 20 years Dan Hicks, veteran sportscaster as well as Storm’s mother Hannah Storen and stepfather Bill Krebs, who reside in
the Houston area. Special acknowledgment during the event was given to Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, director of athletics at Loyola University-Chicago, who became Swoopes’ new boss when the NCAA and three-time Olympic champion was recently introduced as the Loyola Ramblers new women’s head basketball coach. Swoopes indicated her excitement in being a head coach and looks forward to bringing a championship to the school’s women’s basketball program.
In addition to the documentary series profiling the nine stories, several events over the past year have been held celebrating the June 2012’s 40th anniversary of Title IX. Some of the events included the White House Council on Women and Girls hosting a panel to discuss the life-altering nature of sports, the Women's Sports Foundation honoring of over 40 female athletes, ESPN The Magazine produced its first “Women in Sports” issue in June 2012 and President Barack Obama wrote a pro-Title IX op ed published in Newsweek magazine.
Congratulations to Sheryl, Hannah and all those associated with the Nine for IX series. We raise our glasses to your remarkable stories and look forward to much more advancement and progress for women over the next 40 years!!