Cynthia Cooper-Dyke

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2005  –  Senegal
  • 2006  –  Senegal
  • 2019  –  Italy

One of the most decorated players in the history of women’s basketball, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke returns to lead the Texas Southern women’s basketball program as its head coach.

Cooper-Dyke served as TSU’s head coach during the 2012-13 season before taking the reins at her alma mater, Southern California. She led the Lady Tigers to a 20-12 record and a trip to the postseason Women’s NIT in her only season at TSU. She had a 70-57 record in four seasons at USC before stepping down in 2017. Cooper-Dyke provided color commentary for Texas Southern basketball home broadcasts on AT&T Sports Net Houston during the 2017-18 season.

Cooper-Dyke arrived at TSU in 2012 after spending the past two seasons at UNC-Wilmington where she led the Seahawks to two of their most successful campaigns in 2010-11 and 2011-12, guiding the squad to a school-record 24 victories (2010) and its second consecutive postseason appearance with an at-large berth in the 2012 Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament. During the 2010-11 season UNCW was victorious in its first postseason contest, recording a 63-54 victory over Richmond before falling to Eastern Michigan in the second round.

That same year Cooper-Dyke was named CAA Coach-of-the-Year, marking the third time in her six-year collegiate coaching career that she has earned Coach-of-the-Year accolades. Freshman point guard Alisha Andrews garnered CAA Rookie-of-the-Year honors, while seniors Brittany Blackwell and Martha White were First and Second-Team All-Conference selections, respectively. All three players were named to the league’s All-Defensive Team.

Cooper-Dyke also achieved a personal milestone during the 2010-11 season, recording her 100th collegiate coaching victory with an 85-68 triumph at Northeastern on Jan. 23, 2011.

Cooper-Dyke was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on August, 13, 2010. Part of the largest induction class in the Hall of Fame’s history, Cooper-Dyke was enshrined along with Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen, longtime LA Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, St. Anthony’s (N.J.) high-school coach Bob Hurley, Sr., as well as former players Dennis Johnson, Gus Johnson and international star Maciel “Ubiratan” Pereira, all of whom will be honored posthumously. Also included in the enshrinement ceremony were the 1960 and 1992 US Men’s Olympic teams.

The former college great, Olympic gold medalist and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Most Valuable Player was named the ninth head coach in UNCW’s history on May 10, 2010 following a successful five-year stint at Prairie View A&M in central Texas.

Cooper-Dyke joined the Prairie View program in May of 2005 and guided the Lady Panthers to their first Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) regular season title, SWAC Tournament crown and NCAA Tournament berth in 2006-07, collecting conference Coach-of-the-Year honors.

PVAMU repeated as SWAC regular season champions in 2008 and 2009 under Cooper-Dyke. The 2008 club made its first appearance in the WNIT and Cooper-Dyke was voted SWAC Coach-of-the-Year for the second time in 2009 after leading the Panthers to their second NCAA Tournament appearance.

Born in Chicago but raised in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, Cooper-Dyke was a four-year standout at Southern California, where she sparked the Women of Troy to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1983 and 1984. She later completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Prairie View A&M.

Cooper-Dyke collected five medals while representing the United States. She won a gold medal at the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis, captured gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, claimed gold at the 1986 and 1990 FIBA World Championships and won bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

Cooper-Dyke began her professional career overseas and played 10 seasons in Spain and Italy. She returned to the United States in 1997 to play with the Houston Comets of the newly-formed WNBA.

She subsequently led the Comets to four consecutive WNBA championships and was named WNBA Finals MVP four times. Cooper-Dyke was voted the league’s MVP in 1997 and 1998 and was a four-time WNBA All-Star before retiring in 2000.

Cooper-Dyke moved into the coaching ranks in 2001 as the head coach of the Phoenix Mercury and spent two seasons on the sidelines before returning to the Comets’ playing roster briefly until an injury curtailed her season in 2003. She announced her final retirement prior to the start of the 2004 campaign and finished as Houston’s all-time leader in scoring (2,601 points), free throw percentage (.871) and assists (602).

Cooper-Dyke, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, has also been active beyond the basketball court. In 2000, she published her autobiography, “She Got Game: My Personal Odyssey,” chronicling her childhood, basketball career and her mother’s battle with breast cancer.

Chamique Holdsclaw

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2012  –  Senegal
  • 2020  –  Virtual

Chamique Shaunta Holdsclaw (born August 9, 1977) is a professional basketball player in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) most recently under a contract with the San Antonio Silver Stars. She announced her retirement from the Los Angeles Sparks on June 11, 2007, though she eventually came out of retirement to play with the Atlanta Dream for the 2009 WNBA Season.

Holdsclaw grew up playing basketball. While attending Christ The King Regional High School in Queens, New York, she played for the school’s women’s basketball team, and led them to four straight New York State Championships in basketball. Holdsclaw was named a High School All-American by the WBCA. She participated in the WBCA High School All-America Game in 1995, scoring eight points. She is Native American.

COLLEGE:
Holdsclaw went to the University of Tennessee from 1995 to 1999, where she played under coach Pat Summitt and helped to lead the Lady Vols to the women’s NCAA’s first ever three consecutive Women’s Basketball Championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The 1998 championship was Tennessee’s first ever undefeated season at 39–0 and also set an NCAA record for the most wins ever in a season. She also helped lead Tennessee to two SEC regular season titles in 1998 and 1999 and to three SEC tournament championships in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

At Tennessee, Holdsclaw was a four-time Kodak All-America, one of only six women’s basketball players to earn the honor (along with teammate Tamika Catchings, Cheryl Miller of USC, Ann Meyers of UCLA, Lynette Woodard of Kansas and LaToya Thomas of Mississippi State.) Holdsclaw finished her career with 3,025 points and 1,295 rebounds, making her the all-time leading scoring and rebounder at Tennessee in men’s or women’s history, the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in SEC women’s history, and the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in the NCAA tournament women’s history with 470 points and 197 rebounds. She was also only the fifth women’s basketball player in NCAA history to have 3,000 points (a list including Jackie Stiles of Southwest Missouri State, Patricia Hoskins of Mississippi Valley State, Lorri Bauman of Drake, Cheryl Miller of USC, and Cindy Blodgett of Maine). She is also one of five women’s collegiate basketball players to ever accumulate over 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 assists and 300 steals (a list that includes teammate Tamika Catchings, Cheryl Miller of USC, Sophia Young of Baylor, and Armintie Price of Mississippi.) In 1999, Holdsclaw received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States. Holdsclaw also won the Naismith trophy for player of the year twice, in 1998 and 1999 and posted a 134–17 win/loss record during her remarkable career as a Lady Vol. In 2000 she was named Naismith’s Player of the Century for the 1990s and was also part of an ESPY award given to the Lady Vols as Co-Team of the Decade for the 1990s. In 1996, 1997 and 1998, Holdsclaw was named to the Final Four All Tournament team.
In 2006, Holdsclaw was named to a women’s collegiate basketball silver anniversary team for being picked as one of the 25 greatest players of the past 25 years. She was also picked as one of the 5 greatest players in the SEC of the past 25 years.
Holdsclaw is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
WNBA

In the 1999 WNBA Draft, Holdsclaw was selected by the Washington Mystics 1st overall. After this selection, Chamique gained the distinction of being the first, and only, female athlete to appear on the cover of SLAM Magazine. Furthermore, Chamique was pictured in a New York Knicks jersey, implying that perhaps she was good enough to be the first woman NBA player.

In her first season, she was named the Rookie of the Year, the first number one draft pick to win the honor. She was also a starter in the inaugural WNBA All-Star Game that same year. She is the first averaged 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in her first season. The next year, Holdsclaw was named to the Olympic team, helping to lead them to a gold medal.

During her subsequent seasons in the WNBA, Holdsclaw continued to improve her numbers. In 2002, despite missing several games with an ankle injury, Holdsclaw averaged a double-double per game with 19.9 points and 11.5 rebounds. By 2003, she was averaging 20.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. On July 24, 2004, however, she failed to show up for a game against Charlotte, played one more game in reserve and then did not play the rest of the season including the entire playoffs. At first, Holdsclaw refused to discuss the reason for her absence, other than to rule out cancer, pregnancy and drug addiction, but following the season, she told The Washington Post that she was suffering from clinical depression and that she had been ashamed to discuss it with the public. It ends up her grandmother died, the woman who raised her and she went into a real depression. She decided not to stay in Washington because of to many memories.

On March 21, 2005, Holdsclaw was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for DeLisha Milton-Jones.

In May 2006, Holdsclaw took a sudden two-week leave from playing for the Sparks, but later clarified that this was due to the serious illnesses of her father and stepfather. As of late June, she was averaging 14.4 points per game and 7 rebounds per game.

On June 11, 2007, only a few weeks into the 2007 WNBA season, she surprisingly announced she was retiring and did not immediately provide any explanation as to her sudden departure.[5]

On December 17, 2008, the Atlanta Dream traded the 13th pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for the rights to Holdsclaw. Holdsclaw stated she definitely considered a return to the WNBA if healthy, and did. Holdsclaw has found herself to be a constant part of the team’s offense and a starter that season, despite an injury that kept her out several games toward the end of the season. However, she returned just in time for one game in the playoffs. The Dream lost to the Detroit Shock.

On May 19, 2010, she was released from the Dream after requesting a trade and did not report to the team. Two days later, she signed with the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Jim Jackson

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2005  –  Senegal

James Jackson is an American retired professional basketball player. Over his 14 National Basketball Association (NBA) seasons, Jackson was on the active roster of 12 different teams. Jackson was a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes. He started as a freshman for the 1989–90 season, Jackson averaged 16.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 49.9% from the field. He played two more seasons through 1991–92 season, earning consensus First Team All American honors in 1991 and 1992 UPI college basketball, and the UPI player of the year in 1992. OSU even decided to retire his number (22) in honor of the star player.

Jackson was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the fourth overall pick of the 1992 NBA draft after his junior season at OSU. During his first season, he only played in 28 games but the following season started in all 82 games.

Charles “CJ” Watson

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2012  –  Senegal

2010-11 (Chicago): He appeared in all 82 regular season games (one start) and averaged 4.9 ppg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 rpg, 0.67 spg, 13.3 mpg and shot .371 from the field, .393 from behind the arc and .742 from the line … led the Bulls in scoring once and in assists three times … posted six games with 10-plus points scored, including one game with 33 points … finished with eight points, a team-high six assists and four boards in 18:30 against NJ (04/13) … scored 13 points and added four assists at MIN (03/30) … posted eight points, six assists and three boards at ATL (03/22) … tallied 11 points and seven assists versus SAC (03/21) … posted 16 points, eight assists and five boards versus UTH (03/12) … scored 14 points in 18:50 versus PHI (12/21) … in his lone start of the year at DEN (11/26), he posted a game-high 33 points … scored 13 points at DAL (11/19) … 2011 Playoffs: Played in 16 games and averaged 3.2 ppg, 1.9 apg, 0.9 rpg, 8.5 mpg, .339 shooting from the field, .200 from behind the arc and .909 from the line.

Career: Has appeared in 256 NBA games (34 starts) and owns career averages of 7.5 ppg, 2.4 apg, 1.9 rpg, 1.05 spg, 20.0 mpg and shot .437 from the field, .362 from behind the arc and .807 from the line … has appeared in 16 postseason games and averaged 3.2 ppg, 1.9 apg, 0.9 rpg, 8.5 mpg, .339 shooting from the field, .200 from behind the arc and .909 from the line … 2009-10 (Golden State): Appeared in 65 games (15 starts), and averaged 10.3 ppg, 2.8 apg, 2.6 rpg and 1.58 spg … averaged career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and minutes while shooting a career-high .468 from the field … made 15 starts, and posted 15.4 ppg, 4.7 apg, 3.8 rpg, and 2.13 spg in 38.8 mpg … scored a career-high 40 points versus SAC (02/17) … posted the highest assist-to-turnover ratio on the team with 2.5 assists per turnover … recorded multiple steals on 29 occasions, including a career-high seven thefts versus BOS (12/28) … scored 20-plus points in three straight games (02/16-02/19), the first time in his career he had accomplished this run … scored in double-figures 32 times, including 20-plus points seven times, and one game with 40 points … missed 14 games due to injury/illness (six games with fractured ribs, five games with the flu and four games with a laceration on his right hand) … registered two DNP-CDs … 2008-09 (Golden State): Appeared in 77 games (18 starts), and tallied 9.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg and 2.7 apg in 24.5 mpg … started 18 games and averaged 14.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 4.1 apg in 36.2 mpg … played 25-plus minutes in 36 games, where he averaged 13.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg and 3.8 apg in those contests … scored a then career-high 38 points and shot 16-of-16 from the free throw line in a win at UTH (04/11), marking the most points ever scored in an NBA game by a former D-League player … reached double-figures in scoring 35 times, with four games with 20-plus points and one contest with 30-plus points … two-plus steals 24 times … missed two games due to injury and one due to personal reasons … posted two DNP-CDs … 2007-08 (Golden State/Rio Grande Valley Vipers): Appeared in 32 games with Golden State, and posted 3.7 ppg, 1.1 apg, 1.0 rpg and 9.5 mpg … in five games where he received 20-plus minutes, he averaged 10.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.2 apg and 1.40 spg … reached double-figures in scoring four times … recorded 15 DNP-CDs … in 16 games with Rio Grande (NBDL), he averaged 26.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.3 apg and 1.38 spg in 38.1 mpg … he shot .506 (128-253 FG) from the field, .400 (18-45 3FGM) from three-point range and .899 (149-166 FT) from the free throw line … at the time of his call-up, he ranked third in the D-League in scoring, having scored 20-or-more points 14 times, with six 30-plus efforts and one 40-point performance, and he also ranked fifth in assists … he was named the NBA Development League Player of the Month for December … 2006-07 (Bipop-Carire Reggie Emilia, Italy A-1/PAOK Thessaloniki, Greek League): Spent the season in Europe, splitting time between Italy and Greece … while in Italy, he played 17 games for Bipop-Carire Reggie Emilia, and posted 8.5 ppg and 2.3 rpg … in five contests with PAOK Thessaloniki, he averaged 7.4 ppg and 2.2 apg.

Career Transactions: Went undrafted following his senior season at Tennessee in the 2006 NBA Draft … signed by Golden State as a free-agent call-up from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Developmental League (01/08/08) … re-signed by Golden State as a restricted free agent (09/09/09) … traded to Chicago from Golden State in exchange for a 2011 second round draft pick (07/22/10).

College Career: Played four seasons at the University of Tennessee … finished his collegiate career in Knoxville as the second all-time leader in assists (577), second in steals (198), sixth in three-point field goal percentage (.396), tied for eighth in three-point field goals (401) and 15th in scoring (1,424 points) … started 118 of his 119 career games … earned Second Team All-SEC honors from The Associated Press and the SEC coaches following his senior year … following his collegiate career, he was named to the Volunteers’ All-Century Basketball Team.
Personal: Full name is Charles Akeem Watson, Jr. … is the son of Charles and Cathy Watson … he has one brother, Kashif Watson, and one sister, Vonyetta Brooks … received the nickname C.J. from his father when he was a young child … was an active participant in the Warriors community relations efforts … he distributed free tickets to the team’s preseason games to fans at the City Center Bart Station … he teamed with Southwest Airlines to hold the C.J. Watson Essay Contest during the 2008-09 season, in which two fifth graders from W.P. Williams Elementary School in Watson’s hometown of Las Vegas were rewarded for their winning essays about an event in black history that they felt most changed or influenced America’s way of life with an all-expenses paid trip to Oakland to see a Warriors game … in previous seasons, he visited a local Boys & Girls Club, made an appearance at a session of Warriors Basketball Camp and took part in the Oracle Basketball Clinic at the Warriors Practice Facility … he has participated in Golden State’s Hoops For Hope program … he majored in psychology at Tennessee … he was a two-time Nevada state Player of the Year in high school and he led his high school to a pair of state championships … he attended the same high school as NBA guard Marcus Banks and NFL running back Steven Jackson … he enjoys reading, yoga, golf, bowling and playing Nintendo Wii in his spare time … he collects basketball cards and sneakers … he lists his parents and grandparents as the people he admires most … he is a fan of the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Yankees … he has a daughter, Ayanna Watson (born 10/05/07).

Staci Wilson

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  Peru
  • 2016  –  Senegal
  • 2018  –  Niger
  • 2019  –  Nigeria
  • 2019  –  Ethiopia

Staci Wilson – former professional soccer player with extensive experience training athletes, teams and coaches. An NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach, she holds a US Soccer B Coaching License, and has teaching certifications in yoga and Pilates. She played professional soccer for the Carolina Courage and on the 1996 USWNT that won the first ever Olympic Gold Medal for Women’s Football. Currently Wilson coaches youth, high school in south Florida and has a soccer consulting business. She devotes free time to giving back to the sport through charitable organizations that target females and underserved communities.

Zola Solamente

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  Bolivia
  • 2016  –  Jordan
  • 2016  –  Netherlands
  • 2016  –  Senegal
  • 2017  –  Belarus
  • 2017  –  Albania
  • 2018  –  Tajikistan
  • 2019  –  Bahrain

Zola Solamente began playing soccer at the age of 5, with her older brother and his friends. She continued to play with boys until middle school, when she switched to a female club team. From ages 12 – 17 Zola was a captain of her club team, as well as with the Olympic Development Program, and was a member of the East Regional team, which competed internationally.

Zola played at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 1990-1993. She was a starter at UNC for all four years of her career. She won 4 National Championships, 4 ACC Championships, and was named All-American her senior year. She was invited to play on the US Women’s National team in 1993. She traveled with the team for 2.5 years participating in international tournaments.

In 1995 Zola retired from international soccer to become a mother and pursue a career in fine arts. She now owns Arden Gallery Ltd. in Boston, MA, which she has been directing for 18 years. She continues to share her passion for soccer by providing individual and small-group soccer clinics to female players ages 12 – 18 in the greater Boston area. The focus of these training sessions is to improve technical skills, increase tactical awareness, and deepen strength/fitness levels. Since the fall of 2014 she has been traveling with the US State Department as a Sorts Envoy coaching and mentoring children in under-served and at-risk environments in the Middle East, Africa, and South America.