This is the first entry of a series about Tech’s most prominent athletes.
In 1975, a little girl grew up in Pineland, Texas, as the youngest daughter of six kids to Charles and Rowena Weatherspoon. She immediately picked up sports like basketball, karate, football and baseball as an adolescent.
She loved baseball the most, as she was the daughter of a professional baseball player, but she made a heavy impact in basketball. At West Sabine High School, she was immediately noticed as a star athlete with the talent to do things most women have yet to do at this day and age.
With such a dynamic high school career, Teresa Weatherspoon was recruited by several colleges across the country but decided to attend Louisiana Tech University in 1984 under head coach Leon Barmore, and her career made an illustrious boom.
“It took me five minutes of watching her play to realize that this kid could be a great player,” Barmore said.
Barmore said he knew exactly what he was looking for when recruiting Weatherspoon.
“We lost Kim Mulkey and we were in need of a point guard,” he said. “Teresa came in to replace her and was ready to go.”
Weatherspoon was a two-time Kodak All-American in 1987 and 1988 and won the prestigious Wade Trophy as the top player in the country during her senior season. In that same year (1988), Weatherspoon won a national championship title, defeating Auburn 56-54 in the NCAA title game, and an Olympic gold medal as part of the U.S. National Team.
“I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made as far as basketball,” Weatherspoon said. “He (Barmore) turned the program over to me as a freshman because he knew I wanted something great every day.”
Barmore said he was glad he put that pressure on Weatherspoon.
”Her leadership was outstanding,” Barmore said. “She did whatever I asked her to. She was a tremendous defender, probably the best ever here at Tech.”
After college she went to play professional basketball overseas in 1988 where she spent six years in Italy and was named a six-time all-star. She also played two years in Russia.
In 1997, the world of basketball changed for women as the WNBA was formed and Weatherspoon headed back to the States to continue her career as a New York Liberty.
“I was allocated to the Liberty, and man, that was the greatest thing that could happen to a little country girl like me,” Weatherspoon said. “To come to a big city and be welcomed like I was great.”
In her career she became a five-time WNBA All-Star, a four-time all-WNBA second teamer and the two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and led her team to three WNBA championship appearances in 1997, 1999 and 2000. One of her most memorable moments includes her half-court buzzer beater in 1999 against the Houston Comets in Game 2 of the WNBA finals.
“I set the bar high when I played,” Weatherspoon said. “But I don’t dwell on my success. I want to help others reach it.”
This past summer, she was named one of the 15 greatest players in the history of the WNBA. She also has become a member of the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame (1996), the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2010), the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (2010) and the New York Liberty Ring of Honor (2011).
She started to create computer software after her retirement from the WNBA but realized she couldn’t stay away from the game. In 2008 she served as the head coach of the America Basketball Association’s Westchester Phantoms men’s team that included Elton Brand.
“I needed to be of help in the game,” Weatherspoon said. “And I got that chance by coaching Brand. I had some of the greatest boys who trusted everything about me. It was awesome.”
Weatherspoon, recruited by NBA legend and Tech alumni Karl Malone, became an assistant coach at her alma mater, Louisiana Tech, under Chris Long in 2008. Halfway through her first season, Long was fired and Weatherspoon had to take the wheel. From there the rebirth of the prestigious Lady Techster program began.
“It was a tough position for her,” Barmore said. “But she was the only one fit for the job. And she was a wonderful choice.”
Since that 2008-2009 season, the Techsters have won one WAC tournament title, one WAC conference title and have made two NCAA appearances. Under Weatherspoon, the Techsters have accomplished the feat of being only the second women’s team (besides Tennessee) in history to win 1,000 games and has reached 500 wins all-time in Ruston.
Now in 2013, Weatherspoon said she hopes to only further the franchise’s success with her group of girls, whose record is now 6-7 at the time of press, heading deeper into conference play.
“These kids mean everything to me,” Weatherspoon said. “I am here to teach them how to work hard.”
Weatherspoon, who is known for being a fiery coach in practice and the games, said she uses her energy to motivate her team.
“If you can’t take my drive, then you’re still in park,” she said. “That’s what I tell my kids. Get out of park and have some drive.”
Weatherspoon said it’s been amazing to be asked to come back to a university that she played at. She said she is honored that Tech feels she made such an impact in the past to where they feel she can make one in the future.
Weatherspoon said despite any goals she has achieved as a player or coach, nothing will amount to the feeling of one specific accomplishment.
“My biggest win is for them to get their degree,” she said. “They’re not just basketball players. They are intelligent human beings and they will succeed in life even when the ball deflates.”
Email comments to rjk...@latech.edu.