Women’s basketball podcast ‘Hardwood HERstory’ aims to inspire and educate

Niele Ivey celebrates after winning the NCAA women's basketball title in 2001
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By Zora Stephenson

What’s going on everybody. Zora Stephenson here. A has-been hooper (although I’m still confident in my jumper) and the host of one of NBC Sports’ latest podcasts, “Hardwood HERstory.” The purpose of the pod is to tell the stories of athletes who changed women’s basketball. And despite the fact that they all had a non-negotiable impact on the game, you probably haven’t heard of some of them.

That’s why we’re here. Some people give back to the sport through coaching or working for a team. I give back to the game through storytelling. Hardwood HERstory is a labor of love, here’s a list of things you can look forward to if you start listening:

1) Lusia “Lucy” Harris is in the Hall of Fame. The first woman to score a basket at the Olympics for USA Basketball, she led Delta State to three college championships and was drafted by an NBA team. Growing up people used to tease Lucy. They would say, long and tall and that’s all. She then went back to them after all her success and said, long and tall and that’s NOT all. Love it!!!

2) Ann Meyers Drysdale (also a Hall of Famer) probably played pickup with either your favorite basketball player or your parent’s favorite basketball player. She has stories for days and was kind enough to share some of them. A walking women’s basketball encyclopedia. Want to simply learn more about the history of the game? Listen to this episode!!

3) Dee Kantner. This is the episode where you laugh. We asked Dee Kantner to join the podcast because she was one of the first women to referee in the NBA. That’s why you’ll start listening, but you’ll keep listening because she shares a referee’s perspective on calls (and missing calls), how she went from engineer to ‘Hardwood HERstory’, and the bees she has to keep up with off the court. Pure entertainment!

4) Years into Niele Ivey‘s coaching career, Muffet McGraw and the Notre Dame Athletics administration saw her as the future of the school’s women’s basketball program. Now that she’s stepped into the head role, Coach Ivey talks about what it took to get there, what it means to lead her alma mater, her coaching philosophy, and her time in the NBA. Coach Ivey also gives the full scouting report on her son Jaden, who was scooped up by the Detroit Pistons as the fifth overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. An inspiring episode for anyone who has a dream and wants to listen to someone who made it happen. Muffet McGraw chimes in too.

5) Elizabeth Williams had her jersey retired at Duke University, she was the WNBA’s most improved player in 2016, she led the Atlanta Dream and the WNBA as they campaigned against the team’s owner in the Georgia Senate race, and when her playing career is over, she has dreams of being a doctor. Talk about doing it all! Elizabeth also happens to be my best friend and it was so cool to interview her. To me, this episode is about a talented basketball player who finally found her voice off the court.

6) Allison Galer owns Disrupt The Game, an agency that only represents female athletes, mostly women’s basketball players. Alison shares why representing women is her calling, the goals she has for her company, and all she does as an agent.

If you need more reasons to listen, just let me know! Basketball is about so much more than putting a ball in a hoop. Within those four lines, there are stories of triumph, victory, success, and resilience. We can all relate to that. Want greatness to rub off on you? Listen to Hardwood HERstory.

Hardwood HERstory is available for download on all major podcast platforms, including: NBCSports.com/podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Spotify, Google Podcasts, iHeart, and Pandora. Episode one featuring Lusia “Lucy” Harris is also embedded above. 

Zora Stephenson played college basketball at Elon University. She works as a sideline reporter for the Milwaukee Bucks and also covers the Olympics and USFL for NBC Sports. You can follow her on Twitter @ZoraStephenson.