Swoopes takes over at Loyola of 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.

Swoopes said she will count on her extensive experience and a

good staff to help her with, well, everything. Players, plays,

compliance issues and the rest of the details that come with

running a college team.

”I have access to so many people that have experience, have

been on the good side and the bad side,” she 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 that my

coaches probably expected from me, but it’s not because I don’t

think they can’t do it. I know they can,” she 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.

The school in recent years has opened a new multipurpose

athletic facility and remodeled its arena on Chicago’s far North

Side. It men’s team won the 1963 NCAA championship.

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. She won a NCAA championship at Texas Tech and

Nike named a shoe after her.

”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 M. 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 added. ”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.”