Just a few hours before South Carolina and Connecticut tipped off at the Target Center in Minneapolis for the NCAA women’s basketball championship game, another “must win” took place. With broad shoulders bearing the weight of challenging conversations, agility balancing public expectation with the realities of the Black female basketball player experience and endurance to speak truth to power, Essence Black Women In Sports brought its best game to the table. The brunch table that is.
From college All-Americans and WNBA stars to business leaders and those who breathe life into the game on the broadcasting side, the Black Women in Sports Brunch brought some of basketball’s finest together and forced everyone in the room to take a harder look at how to embrace, encourage, empower and equip female basketball players.
The event kicked off with two powerful panels, exploring solutions and ideas surrounding better experiences on campus for Black female student athletes at predominantly white institutions and financial literacy.
With appetites for tangible solutions filled, the afternoon moved to honoring two of basketball’s most beloved: legendary girls basketball coach, Tara Starks, and the “Michael Jordan” of women’s basketball, Sheryl Swoopes.
Upon receiving her award, Tara Starks took her time at the podium to acknowledge her mission to meet the needs of young female basketball players in the Minneapolis community with a consistent commitment to mentor them through the game of basketball.
Unapologetic and overwhelmed with emotion, Sheryl Swoopes shared her gratitude for the honor and some bright spots in her basketball career. Adversely, she also expressed the heavy hit her personal and professional life took after retiring from the WNBA.
Both pioneers in the basketball sphere, Starks and Swoopes now join a special sorority: a new class of women to be honored by ESSENCE for their contributions to sports.
Take a look at the momentum, memories and conversations from the event, sponsored by Coca-Cola, below.