Awareness came early for Jennifer Gillom.
“I was in the sixth grade when I played my first organized [basketball] game,” Gillom recalled. “We won, and I think the score was 16-8 and I scored all 16 points. I think I knew then that I was pretty talented.”
Selected as the 1985 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, Gillom was a member of six U.S. national teams. She won gold medals in the 1988 Olympics, the 1986 and 2002 World Championships, the 1986 Goodwill Games and the 1987 Pan Am Games. In 2009, she was elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I always knew I wanted to be an Olympian, but to actually be there and to experience it all, you’re just at a loss for words. There is no experience greater than that,” Gillom said.
One of 10 children in what Gillom calls “a basketball family,” she started playing when she was 8. Ultimately, she and seven of her siblings attended college on basketball scholarships.
“I always played against guys,” said Gillom, who will turn 48 next month. “There were never enough girls in my neighborhood that were interested in playing, so my experience came from my older brother. I have a slew of relatives that love basketball, and that’s where I feel like I developed my game. We just had basketball in our blood.”
“That was a thrill,” Gillom said. “Cheryl was such a motivator, such an enthusiastic coach, and that’s the way I feel like I am. It helped me as a player. When you see the vein that pops out of her neck when she’s screaming and cheering us on, to me, that helps the players. When you show passion, they show passion.”
Gillom began her coaching career in 2004 at a Phoenix high school before coming to the WNBA for head coaching stints with the Minnesota Lynx and the Sparks. She also served as an assistant coach on the 2009 U.S. national team, the 2010 U.S. World Championships team and the 2011 Pan American Games team.
“She’s well-respected all over the world,” Lacey said. “I’ve known Jennifer for years. She comes from a good family, she’s a good coach, a role model and a wonderful person. She has the ability to lift people’s spirits and bring positive energy.”
“It’s been a pleasure to work with coach Gillom,” Fowles said. “She’s an awesome post-player coach, but she can also step you away from the basket, which is a great thing for us to expand our game. I enjoy playing for her.”View Entire Story
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