Loyola Chicago hires Swoopes to take over for Simpson as head coach
CHICAGO -- Sheryl Swoopes was simply looking for an assistant coaching job when she contacted Loyola of Chicago two weeks ago.
It didn't take long for conversations to shift to filling the Ramblers' vacant head coaching spot instead.
On Monday, the 42-year-old Olympic gold medalist and retired WNBA star was formally introduced as Loyola's new head coach - a first-time coach, to boot.
''I have access to so many people that have experience, have been on the good side and the bad side,'' Swoopes said. ''[But] it will definitely be a learning process for me.''
With a dozen of her new players in attendance, Swoopes made clear her expectations.
''I am going to expect more from these young ladies than my coaches probably expected from me, but it's not because I don't think they can't do it. I know they can,'' Swoopes said. ''But one thing I'm going to have to do is be patient.''
A four-time WNBA champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist, Swoopes takes over a program eager to be on the rise as the school leaves the Horizon League for the Missouri Valley Conference this fall. School officials are expected to officially announce the move later this week.
''This has always been a lifelong dream of mine, to have the opportunity to do something that I love,'' Swoopes said. ''That is to not only play basketball but be in position to pass that on to the up-and-coming generation.''
Swoopes is the eighth women's coach in program history. Terms of her contract were not disclosed.
''Experience in coaching? I don't have the title as an assistant coach or head coach, but it doesn't concern me that I can't lead this group of young ladies to where we want to go,'' Swoopes said.
A six-time WNBA All-star and three-time most valuable player, Swoopes scored 4,875 points during a 12-year WNBA career that wrapped up in 2011.
''Sheryl Swoopes has been a household name for the better part of the two decades and she's achieved competitive success on every level,'' said Grace Calhoun, Loyola assistant vice president and athletic director. ''Sheryl is a delightful mix of warmth, humility, genuineness and compassion. But she combines this with a fiery spirit that doesn't take well to losing.''
''She will take you on in anything and she will beat you,'' Calhoun said. ''Can't do is not part of her vocabulary.''
Swoopes succeeds Eric Simpson, who resigned after four seasons. Loyola finished 17-15 last season, 10-6 in the Horizon League, and advanced to the league title game before falling to Green Bay.
''I can't guarantee anything, but I can promise you this: I'm going to give everything that I have every single day,'' Swoopes said. ''Everything that I've done and accomplished as a player, it's time to pass that on and I'm so thrilled for this opportunity.''