ROCK HILL, SC—Basketball legend Lynette Woodard, a two-time U.S. Olympian, a four-time All-American, the all-time Division I women’s scoring leader, a 10-time Hall of Fame inductee, and the first woman to play for the world-renowned Harlem Globetrotters has accepted an assistant coaching position with the Winthrop women’s basketball program, it was announced today by head coach Kevin Cook.
“I am super excited that Lynette Woodard is joining us at Winthrop. She completes an already strong staff,” said Cook who will begin his fifth year at the Eagles’ helm this season. “If there were a Mt. Rushmore of women’s basketball players, Lynette would be on it,” said Cook, who served as an assistant coach with Woodard at the University of Kansas.
“Lynette brings the same energy and dedication to recruiting and teaching the game that she had as a player. With Lynette’s addition to our staff, Winthrop University became a little better place today.”
Winthrop Athletic Director Ken Halpin says, “Coach Woodard’s life accomplishments and basketball knowledge are truly remarkable. Her decision to come to Winthrop is a testament to the great work that Coach Cook and our student-athletes are doing in the pursuit of excellence and I am excited to have her joining our team.”
A native of Wichita, KS, Woodard played college basketball for the Kansas Lady Jayhawks and noted head coach Marian Washington. During her four-year career, Woodard scored 3,649 points and helped lead KU to three straight Big Eight championships while breaking 24 school records. She was voted to the Kodak All-American team all four years, was the 1981Wade Trophy winner which goes to the college player of the year, and was a GTE Academic All-America selection. Woodard graduated from Kansas in 1981 with a degree in speech communications.
Woodard, who is considered a pioneer in women’s basketball, was inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame in 1990, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and 2004, the Globetrotter Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.
“I am very excited to be here at Winthrop. It’s a new beginning and it gives me the opportunity to get reacquainted with Coach Cook,” said Woodard. “I’m looking forward to working with our young team, helping them to develop into the players we want to see them become, and become winners and champions here at Winthrop and beyond. I can say that I am ready to give 100 percent and pour into these young people and help them be the best they can be.”
While still in college Woodard began playing in international tournaments, traveling to the Soviet Union in 1979, where she helped the U.S. women’s team win a gold medal in the World University Games. In 1980 Woodard earned a place on the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team. This achievement was dimmed, however, when the United States boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games. She was also part of the U.S. team that captured the gold in the 1983 Pan Am Games in Caracas, Venezuela.
When Woodard graduated from Kansas, there were no professional basketball opportunities in the United States. She took her game to Europe where she played two years in the Italian Women’s Professional League. Following the 1983 season, Woodard returned to the U.S. and made the most of her second Olympic opportunity when she captained the 1984 U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal at the Los Angeles Games.
After winning the gold, Woodard had a chance to make a childhood dream come true when she tried out for the Harlem Globetrotters. She was among 10 women who competed for a chance to play with the Globetrotters and made history when she became the first female to join the famous team of basketball ambassadors in 1985.
In 1987 Woodard decided to leave the Globetrotters and return to professional play abroad. She played two more seasons in Italy, helping her team to the Italian league championships in 1989, and then went to Japan, where she played for the Daina Securities team from 1990 to 1993, winning the division championship in 1992.
While playing for Daina Securities, a stock brokerage and financial services company, Woodard developed an interest in the stock market and worked to earn her license as a stock broker. She returned to the U.S. and worked for a time for the New York Stock Exchange before taking the position of director of athletics for the Kansas City, KS school system where she served for two years until 1997 when she came out of retirement to play in the newly formed Women’s National Basketball Association. She played one year for the Cleveland Rockers and one year for the Detroit Shock before officially retiring as a player and returning to the stock brokerage business.
In 1999, she returned to KU as an assistant coach under Coach Washington where she served for four seasons alongside Cook. When Washington retired for health reasons in 2003, Woodard served as interim head coach in 2003-2004. In 2006, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius recognized Woodard’s contribution to Kansas athletics when she appointed her to serve as co-chair of her new Governor’s Council on Fitness.
She comes to Winthrop after working for the past three years at Wichita State with the TRiO and GEAR-UP programs.
Basketball: U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team member, 1980, captain, 1984; Italian professional basketball league player, 1981-83, 1987-89; Harlem Globetrotters team member, 1985-87; Japanese professional basketball league player, 1990-93; Kansas City, MO, School District, athletic director, 1993-95; Women’s National Basketball Association, Cleveland Rockers team member, 1997-98; Detroit Shock team member, 1998-99; University of Kansas women’s basketball team, assistant coach, 1999-2003, interim head coach, 2004.
Memberships: Governor’s Council on Fitness, co-chair, 2006
Selected awards: Wade Trophy, 1981; Honda, Broderick Cup, 1981; GTE Academic All-American, 1981; Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, 1990; Women’s Sports Foundation, Flo Hyman Award, 1993; Professional Women of Color, Breaking the Mold Award, 1998; Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, 2002 and 2004; Harlem Globetrotters Hall of Fame, 2004; Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, 2005.