Becky Hammon talks shattering gender norms with The Players’ Tribune

With social issues moreso than usual in the forefront of everyone’s consciousnesses, the entire populace is getting more involved in the advancement of social justice. The WNBA, as it has shown from protesting police brutality to supporting women’s rights, that it is on the front lines in said advancement.

Former NBA star Jerry Stackhouse hosts a series on The Players’ Tribune called First Step. In a recent episode, he spoke with current Spurs assistant coach and former WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon on how to break down the walls that separate the sexes.

My hope would be, eventually, it’s just ‘coach.’ It’s not ‘a female coach’ and I’m recognized for my skills and my talents and my mind and my work ethic just like the next person.

–Becky Hammon

She and Stackhouse visited Girls, Inc. in San Antonio and began her words by speaking on her upbringing in South Dakota.

We did a lot of hiking, fishing, and sports, really. What else are you going to do in South Dakota, right?

Hammon mentioned how when she was growing up, the WNBA was not around so there was not any famous women’s basketball players she could look up to – until Sheryl Swoopes.

And then that’s really when, I think, I started to dream. Like, really have big dreams.

She mentioned having to learn how to play since she may not have possessed the physical attributes of other players – meaning she had to develop her game in other ways.

I got very tricky at, like, drop shots. Weird angles off the backboard because guys were always trying to block my shot. No guy wants to be scored on by a girl.

–Becky Hammon

Agreed [chuckles].

–Jerry Stackhouse

Hammon later talked about how girls have a certain level of confidence in themselves until they become pre-teens – then it starts to wane because they become used to hearing messages that aim to reinforce the falsehood that men are better than women at everything.

Such a great thing about sports and girls playing sports is that it teaches you how to succeed. It teaches you how to get up after, maybe, you failed or maybe you missed a big shot. It builds perseverance, it builds endurance, you know how to fight through adversity.

I think building those characteristics to try to move through those things is really what helped me be able to step into this role of being an assistant coach.

And having someone such as Gregg Popovich to show you the ropes can only help as well.

Pop sets the tone. He’s like a feminist in a way. He’s an activist. He believes everybody should have a fair chance. So, for me, I just feel fortunate to be in the right place at the right time with the right leadership.

On having the chance to spend time with the girls:

I love just coming in and hearing their own voices. Seeing a seven-year old girl say, ‘I’m strong, I’m smart, I’m bold.’ It made me feel proud, it made me feel happy for them that they have a space that they can come in and, kind of, feed their confidence.

I think that’s an important mindset to have, to dream outside the box. Because, I can tell you, this was certainly outside my box. If I can do it where I came from, you can do whatever you set your mind to.


(Video Credit: The Players’ Tribune)

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