UConn women’s basketball star Swin Cash and Sun’s Lindsay Whalen are enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame

SPRINGFIELD — As UConn women’s basketball great Swin Cash stood at the edge of the stage, she took a moment to hug each of her presenters as they took their places behind her.

She had personally chosen the five presenters to join her on stage. They are Hall of Famers, highly decorated players and coaches who have made an impact on the game: Tamika Catchings, Tina Thompson, Teresa Weatherspoon, Isiah Thomas and Cash’s former college coach Geno Auriemma.

They were all there to wish him the highest honor a basketball player or coach could receive.

In the birthplace of basketball, Cash was officially enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame. She joined the 2022 class of inductees, including former Connecticut Sunguard Lindsay Whalen, inducted before basketball’s most accomplished personalities, at Springfield Symphony Hall for Saturday night’s induction ceremony.

Cash joins Rebecca Lobo (’17) as the only other female UConn player to be inducted.

“I sit among the greats in this room, humbled to be on this stage and hopeful for the next generation of borrowers with the skills to take this game to the next level and the social responsibility to bring this whole world with them,” Cash said on Saturday. “…I’m far from perfect. I’ve made my share of mistakes and I’m sure I will make more.

“But whatever the future holds, I’ll be lifted up the same way I did again, shamelessly, as God called me to be, and all the while I know giving it all was necessary to give to the game and the game will forever. give me.”

Accompanying Cash at Saturday’s ceremony were his former high school coach and teammates, his mother, husband Steve, and two sons – one of whom slept on Steve’s lap as Cash took the stage for his speech.

“To my two heartbeats, one is sleeping there and the other is sleeping in the hotel room, I love you more than life itself,” Cash said. “You are my why. This world is your playground. And as long as I breathe, your right to grow and soar and stand will be your father’s and me’s duty to protect it. Take heart. place, young king.”

While Cash’s basketball accolades showcase her competitive nature, she said it was watching her mother grow up that first showed her what toughness looks like.

“You look at me and see a powerful woman in front of the stage, but I promise you that I am the product of grace, prayer, hard work, mental toughness that was formed by watching my mother daily,” Cash said. . “…Mom, it’s easy to compete in basketball because I’ve watched you fight the ultimate game, the game of life, every day, break down barriers and be an unapologetic black woman. A woman with dignity, grace, humility, I know it hasn’t always been easy for me. I will be eternally grateful to you for all your sacrifices. Thank you.

Cash grew up in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. She chose to commit to UConn rather than Tennessee. The 6-foot-1 forward joined a freshman class at Storrs in 1998 that included future Hall of Famers Sue Bird, Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams (now Williams-Jeter).

“One of the best decisions I made was to (attend) the University of Connecticut,” Cash said. “To Tamika Williams, now Tamika J, Asjha Jones and Sue Bird, there’s not much I can say to you three that I haven’t already told you personally. But what I will say is this , because I have the scene, I We wouldn’t trade our college experience for anything We were the wave, we were the culture, and if anyone debates the best basketball team- college ball of all time, find out about us.

This class went on to help lead UConn to national titles in 2000 and 2002. In Cash’s final year, in 2002, she was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player as UConn finished undefeated.

“It was a great thing to go to three Final Fours, to win two national championships but I learned a lot of life lessons along the way,” she said. “The coach always wrote on the board: ‘Play hard, play smart, have fun. In college, we always felt like we were striving for perfection, in every practice, in every game. It was an unrealistic pursuit.

“The bar was set so high that I felt like it was going up every day. One of the things I learned is that you never look for perfection, you learn to create good habits .”

Cash was selected as the second overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft by the Detroit Shock. In 2016, she retired after three WNBA championships, spending her career with the Shock, Seattle Storm, Chicago Sky, Atlanta Dream and New York Liberty.

She closed her speech on Saturday by addressing her passion for basketball, while giving a message to the younger generation of women, especially black women, who will continue to impact the sport.

“Playing the game was exhilarating and competing was like breathing,” Cash said. “To love this game, you must be obsessed with the process of achieving your goals. To love this game, you will have to overcome your fears and surpass others’ expectations of you. Celebrate your wins, fix your losses, and grind every match as if it were the last.

“What I know, as a black woman sometimes you have to hold back your confidence lest you be called too intimidating, but as a young black woman I was taught to straighten my crown and step into one piece heads up thank you mom trust in who i was and who i was not because i’m a diva or better than but because the statement that i put work into my own skin and my body because it’s my body, let me say it again, because it’s my body…

“I know this game was the sanctuary from the world that tried to lock us in. This game was a vehicle and a glimpse of higher learning, an exposure to bigger images, a platform for more than just performance … What I know, it’s not just a game. It’s a gift. Gift from God.

Apart from Cash and Whalen, the 2022 Hall of Fame class included Tim Hardaway, Manu Ginobili, Bob Huggins, George Karl, Marianne Stanley, Hugh Evans, Theresa Shank-Grentz, Del Harris, Lou Hudson, Larry Costello and Radivoj Korac .

Whalen was introduced by Charles Barkley (Class of 2006) and South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley (2013).

The former Sun point guard began her professional career in Uncasville after the franchise selected her fourth overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft. She is a five-time WNBA All-Star, four-time the WNBA and two-time Olympic champion.

The Minnesota Lynx retired their No. 13 jersey in 2019. Whalen immediately became a coach after playing and is the coach of her alma mater, the University of Minnesota women’s basketball program.

On Saturday, Whalen opened up about his journey to finding basketball and how, on the plane home from the 2012 Olympics, his prospect of winning forever changed his relationship with basketball.

“We won the gold medal and after that I thought my life would be completely different because I did it, I won a gold medal, I arrived, all that,” said said Whalen. “But it wasn’t. The same bills were due, I was in pain from playing, I was hungry, tired, insurance bills were due, we had a plane to catch and get back to the WNBA a few days later.So nothing really had changed after I won a gold medal.

“But also, for me, everything had changed because by then, on the flight home, my goals of finding a destination had changed forever and my appreciation for the trip and, more importantly, for the people who played such a big role in this trip.

About Hannah Schaeffer

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