Chineze Nwagbo

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2019  –  Kosovo
  • 2019  –  Azerbaijan
  • 2019  –  Albania
  • 2019  –  Tanzania

Chineze Nwagbo started her basketball career at Duval Senior High School, in Lanham, Maryland where she is recognized as a 4 yr. varsity letter recipient, and two-time team captain. Her honors include2back-to-back State Championship Titles, All-American Honorable Mention, All-County First Team, All-Gazette, USA Today’s Most Improved and Most Important Player to Scout in Maryland, amongst a myriad of other accomplishments. She is a former Syracuse University student-athlete, who earned her Business of Science degree in Biology. Shortly after graduating from Syracuse, Chinny went on to play as a professional basketball player for 11 years all over the world. She has played in various countries such as Spain(for six years), Chile, Brazil, Poland(for 3 years), Portugal, Israel, where she afforded 4 MVP Titles, and also appeared in the World Championship Games in 2006, representing her parent’s native country Nigeria.Currently, Chinny has ventured to new horizons working for the NBA, in China, developing grassroots implementation of NBA based basketball curriculum in various areas of Jr. NBA programs, also for the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders developmental camps, and has been brought on to work for the Atlanta Hawks,NY Knicks, Washington Wizards, and the National Basketball Players Association.She has also participated as a lecturer, coach, and professor of the game for the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Sports Diplomacy program, which was designed in efforts to bring global communities together. She has also dedicated her time as a Motivational Speaker to various youth programs all over the world, and amazing non-profits geared toward providing resources for underprivileged inner-city student-athletes. In her spare time, she frequents New Channel 8’s Sports talk show as a guest sports analyst and hopes to play an instrumental role in the growth of the game, especially serving as a role model to young female athletes.

Carol Jue

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2019  –  Taiwan

Chapman’s all-time winningest women’s basketball coach, Jue has won over 300 games in her 17 years at the helm of the Panthers’ program. Over a nearly two-decade coaching career, Jue has won over 69 percent of her games and has led the Panthers to the SCIAC Tournament seven times since joining the conference in 2012-13.

Under her guidance, the Panthers have been considered amongst the elite programs in the West Region. Since 2003, Jue has led Chapman to nine NCAA Division III playoff berths (2004-09, ’11, ’14, ’18) and nine 20-win seasons. She has coached five All-West Region selections, three Academic All-Americans, six Academic All-District honorees and three SCIAC Athletes of the Year.

Jue led the Panthers to their first-ever SCIAC Tournament title in 2017-18 with a double overtime victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The Panthers had their most successful SCIAC season ever with a 15-1 record in the SCIAC. Chapman went 23-5 overall for its most wins since the 2007-08 season that ended with a 24-4 record. Jue and her staff were recognized as the SCIAC Coaching Staff of the Year for the third year in a row.

In 2010-11, Chapman went 22-6 and as a result, Jue earned Association of Division III Independents Coach of the Year honors for the third time in her career. She has earned SCIAC Coaching Staff of the Year honors in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

She has led her teams into the SCIAC Tournament in each of Chapman’s six seasons in the conference -the only program on campus to accomplish that feat. The Panthers have appeared in the tournament finals four times, winning their first title game in 2017-18. Since joining the SCIAC in the 2012-13 season, Jue has led the Panthers to an incredible 78-18 SCIAC record with at least 10 win in every season.

In May 2009, Jue was also honored by the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California as the only Chinese-American head basketball coach (men’s or women’s) in the NCAA. She has taken her teams on two international tours in Taiwain. The Panthers played in the Jones Cup in 2010 and the BLIA Tournament in 2015.

Jue was no stranger to winning at the NCAA Division III level having spent four prior years at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges as an assistant coach and serving in the 2002-03 season as the interim head coach.

Jue played collegiately at both Cal State Los Angeles and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and was selected team MVP and named to the All-SCIAC team while playing at Claremont from 1991-92. She was a two-time All-San Gabriel Valley honoree as a player at Montebello High School in the mid-1980’s and was inducted into the Montebello High Hall of Fame in 2011.

Agnus Berenato

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2017  –  Guyana
  • 2017  –  Suriname

Agnus Berenato has earned a reputation of turning around struggling programs and building them into winners. After one season as the head coach of the Kennesaw State women’s basketball program, Berenato has shown signs of building upon that legacy.

In her first season leading the Owls, Berenato guided Kennesaw State to a 10-20 overall record, 8-6 ASUN Conference mark, and the program’s highest seed in the league’s postseason championship. KSU, which won eight of its final 12 games, hosted a tournament game for the first time, defeating NJIT, 62-60, and advanced to the ASUN Championship semifinals for the second time.

Under Berenato’s leadership, Kennesaw State had four players earn ASUN Conference postseason honors. Carlotta Gianolla was unanimously voted Freshman of the Year and selected to the All-Freshman team, while senior Deandrea Sawyers was tabbed second team All-ASUN Conference by the league’s coaches.

The Owls also proved to be winners in the classroom as juniors Chloe Branch and Clara Young were named to the ASUN Conference’s All-Academic team.

Berenato came to Kennesaw State with the distinction of being the winningest coach at the University of Pittsburgh and the second-winningest at Georgia Tech.

The 30-year coaching veteran has also enjoyed success on the recruiting trail since being hired on March 30, 2016 as she signed nine players who will join the program in the fall, including the Georgia 6A Player of the Year.

Within three years of assuming head-coaching duties at Georgia Tech, she led the Yellow Jackets to the 1992 WNIT championship. The next year, Tech made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Two years after taking the helm at Pitt, the Panthers rattled off five consecutive postseason berths, including back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16’s in 2008 and 2009.

Berenato has won 454 games in her 30-year head coaching career that spans four years at Rider University, 15 at Georgia Tech, 10 at Pitt and one at Kennesaw State. Her teams have competed in the postseason 11 times.

On the court, Berenato has mentored five players to All-America recognition — from Georgia Tech: Joyce
Pierce, Kisha Ford and Sonja Mallory and from Pittsburgh: Shavonte Zellous and Marcedes Walker. Her
players achieved 21 all-conference honors at Pitt, and 16 more at Georgia Tech.

Berenato emphasizes the development of the total person, and her student-athletes have complimented athletic success with academic achievement. Every one of her student-athletes who have completed their eligibility have graduated.

She is recognized as an inspirational leader and motivator and a dynamic public speaker, while also giving back in the community. Additionally, Berenato actively serves as a mentor to several former student-athletes and assistant coaches, who continue to impact the game of women’s basketball.

A 1980 graduate of Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., Berenato earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and was a three-year starter on the basketball team. Playing for former NBA star Fred Carter, she was a two-time captain for the Mountaineers. Following eight years of service on the college’s Board of Trustees, she is now a Trustee Emeritus.

Named an ACC Women’s Basketball Legend in 2014, Berenato was recognized on two occasions as a
Division I Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club. She has been inducted into the South Jersey Hall of Fame, the Rider College Hall of Fame and the Mount St. Mary’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

In May of 2009, Berenato was awarded with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Seton Hall
University and delivered the commencement speech to its spring graduates. She also holds an honorary
Doctorate of Humane Letters from her alma mater, Mount St. Mary’s.

The product of a basketball family, Berenato’s sister is Bernadette McGlade, a former Georgia Tech head coach and now the commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Tamika Catchings

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2013  –  Thailand
  • 2014  –  United Arab Emirates

Tamika Catchings began her basketball career as a Forward at the University of Tennessee. During her four years at Tennessee, UT posted a 134-10 overall record (.931), collected four Southeastern Conference regular season crowns, three SEC Tournament titles, competed in four NCAA Tournaments, won the NCAA title in 1998, advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 2000 and made the 1999 Elite Eight and 2001 Sweet Sixteen.

Drafted No. 3 in 2001 by the Indiana Fever, Catchings helped the Indiana Fever advance to the playoffs 13 times in 15 seasons, while capturing the WNBA title in 2012 and advancing to the WNBA Finals in 2009 and 2015. In 2010 became the first player to earn a fourth Defensive Player of the Year award and is the only player to be named to the All-Defensive first team all eight years.

Internationally, Catchings honed her game internationally in China, South Korea, Russia and Turkey and won four Korean titles with Woori Bank Hansae (2002, 2003, 2006, 2007). Since joining the USA National Team in 2002, Catchings has aided the USA to a combined 58-1 record in major international events, winning four-straight Olympic golds, two FIBA World Championship golds, and one World Championship bronze medal.

Outside of basketball, in addition to hosting camps and clinics and raising money to enable disadvantaged youths to attend basketball camps, Catchings created the Catch the Stars Foundation in 2004. Taking advice from Dawn Staley, the foundation is targeted towards at-risk youths, and its goal is to provide both academics and athletics programs. In 2008 Catchings was awarded the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  China
  • 2017  –  Kazakhstan

During her senior year of high school, Taj McWilliams-Franklin gave birth to a daughter, Michele. Sixteen months after the birth of Michele, McWilliams-Franklin welcomed a second daughter, Schera, into the world. As such, she now had to find a basketball family that would accept her expanding family.

St. Edward’s University, an NAIA school in Austin, Texas, the city where her mother lived, would serve as McWilliams-Franklin’s new college basketball home, offering her a partial scholarship that she supplemented with loans. To sustain her basketball career while surviving her academic and everyday obligations, McWilliams-Franklin gave Schera up for adoption. Despite these stresses, McWilliams-Franklin excelled on the court, attracting the attention of Division I programs. Yet, appreciative of the opportunity, McWilliams-Franklin stuck with St. Edward’s. She was named 1993 NAIA Player of the Year her senior season.

In need of money to finish school and support her family, McWilliams-Franklin headed overseas. She played in Wolfenbüttel, Germany (1993-94), Contern, Luxembourg (1994-95) and Galilee, Israel (1995-96), all with Michele in tow. Hooping in far-flung locales did not strain her love for the game, instead confirming that basketball was the career she wanted.

While McWilliams-Franklin combined her commitments — to the game and to her daughter — her unconventional arrangement did not earn widespread approval, including from Michele’s biological father. He sued for custody, successfully raising questions about McWilliams-Franklin’s “fitness as a mother.” The parental rights he won did not last long, however, with McWilliams-Franklin regaining custody from Michele’s father after his one-month fatherhood experiment failed.

Soon thereafter, it seemed McWilliams-Franklin’s perseverance would pay off. A professional women’s basketball league, the ABL, was established in the U.S. in 1996. After participating in a combine for prospective players, she was selected by the Richmond Rage in the inaugural ABL Draft with the 40th overall pick. In Richmond, McWilliams provided a powerful post presence, complimenting star point guard Dawn Staley and versatile forward Adrienne Goodson to form a talented threesome that led the Rage to the ABL championship series, where they fell to the Columbus Quest.

This successful season did not secure the Rage a permanent place in the Richmond sporting landscape. The team was relocated to Philadelphia, giving McWilliams-Franklin another new basketball home. After an underwhelming 1997-98 season, the Rage folded early in the 1998-99 season. McWilliams-Franklin, thus, traveled overseas, this time to Greece. McWilliams-Franklin took another shot at making a roster in the WNBA by attending the 1999 combine. Despite her documented success in the ABL, however, she remained available until the third round, when the Orlando Miracle, an expansion team, selected her with the 32nd pick. In a fitting match, one of women’s basketball’s ultimate underdogs would join an unquestionably underdog expansion team.

Led by McWilliams-Franklin, the Miracle overachieved during their debut season after opening their inaugural season with two-straight road losses. The Miracle finally scored a win with McWilliams-Franklin converting a game-winning bucket with 21.7 seconds remaining. McWilliams-Franklin was named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve along with teammates Nykesha Sales and Shannon Johnson. The Miracle finished 15-17 for the 1999 season. In 2000, Orlando would establish itself as a legitimate playoff contender driven by an ever-determined McWilliams-Franklin.

As the fulcrum of the Orlando offense, she turned in one of the most productive offensive seasons of her career, averaging nearly 14 points per game on better than 52 percent shooting. Fans showed appreciation for McWilliams-Franklin’s play, voting her in as an All-Star starter — an honor that confirmed the underdog had become one of women’s basketball’s elites. The Miracle also would earn a playoff berth and meet the Cleveland Rockers in the first round. The lower-seeded Miracle stole Game 1, powered by a perfect McWilliams-Franklin, who made all seven of her field goal attempts. Yet, the road woes that had bedeviled Orlando all season stalled a deeper playoff run. The Miracle dropped Games 2 and 3 of the three-game Eastern Conference Semifinals.

For McWilliams-Franklin, overall on-court success was accompanied by off-court stability. While playing abroad in Italy during the WNBA offseason, McWilliams-Franklin met Reggie Franklin, an Army sergeant. In December 2000, they were married, and three years later, they gave birth to a third daughter, Maia. With Reggie willing to serve as the primary parent, McWilliams-Franklin appeared to have found the balance needed to fulfill her hooping dreams and familial desires.

All the more, the precariousness of women’s professional basketball presented her with additional difficulties. After the 2002 season, the Orlando Miracle would become the Connecticut Sun, making Uncasville, Connecticut, McWilliams’ new basketball home.

McWilliams-Franklin would spend four seasons as a Connecticut Sun, a time that would cement the underdog’s reputation as a winning player. In 2004, Connecticut advanced all the way to the WNBA Finals, where they fell 2-1 to the Seattle Storm. In 2005, the Sun were even better, with the fantastic foursome of McWilliams-Franklin, Sales, Lindsay Whalen and Katie Douglas pushing to a league-best 26-8 record.

McWilliams-Franklin also collected individual honors in 2005, securing her third All-Star selection and being named to the All-WNBA Second Team. However, the ultimate achievement — a championship — eluded McWilliams-Franklin and the Sun. They again came up short, losing the WNBA Finals 3-1 to the Sacramento Monarchs.

The 2006 season followed a similar script. At 26-8, the Sun again had the WNBA’s best record. McWilliams-Franklin again earned All-Star and All-WNBA Second Team honors. Yet, more disappointingly, Connecticut fell to the Detroit Shock in the Eastern Conference Finals.

So, for all the success that McWilliams-Franklin had attained, she still remained an underdog because her teams were unable to break through and earn a title. To continue her quest for a championship, she would have to journey elsewhere.

Ahead of the 2007 season, McWilliams-Franklin requested a trade to the Los Angeles Sparks, with the opportunity to live and play in L.A. best meeting the needs of her family at that time. Although she had turned in another All-Star season, another cross-country journey was in her future. The next offseason, she was traded to the Washington Mystics. Then, at the 2008 trade deadline, the Detroit Shock sought McWilliams-Franklin’s services for the playoff run.

In the Motor City, all this movement would pay off, with McWilliams-Franklin proving the perfect booster for the Shock. After adding McWilliams-Franklin, Detroit finished the season 12-3 and, most importantly, won the WNBA title.

The Shock envisioned serving McWilliams-Franklin as a role player, supporting stars Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan. Soon after her arrival in Detroit, she told the Ocala Star-Banner:

For the past couple years, I’ve been on young teams where I’ve been expected to be the leader for a lot of young players. It’s been a nice change to be on a team where I’m just one of the veterans — where I have so many great players surrounding me.

However, during Detroit’s playoff run, McWilliams-Franklin exceeded her role. Then almost 38 years old, McWilliams-Franklin proved she still possessed the clutch gene.

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, McWilliams-Franklin added 19 points and eight rebounds, pushing the Shock past the Liberty and sending them back to the WNBA Finals. In Game 3 of the Finals, she spurred the Shock to their championship-clinching victory, going on a personal 4-0 scoring run with approximately four minutes remaining to give the Shock an insurmountable double-digit lead.

In 2007, McWilliams-Franklin reconnected with Schera, re-establishing a relationship with the then-Shawnee State University basketball player.

Seemingly, McWilliams-Franklin might have decided to retire after the 2008 season, completing her unexpected, underdog career with a championship. Yet, as she asserted soon after beginning her professional career abroad, McWilliams-Franklin was determined to play as long as possible.

As an indication of her obsession with the game, McWilliams-Franklin continued to play abroad throughout her WNBA career, suiting up in Italy, South Korea and Russia. After another WNBA season in Detroit and single season with the New York Liberty, Cheryl Reeve, who had been an assistant coach with the Shock, lured McWilliams-Franklin to the Minnesota Lynx.

Ahead of the 2011 WNBA season, a rather unremarkable Minnesota team added two very different yet equally important talents — a seemingly guaranteed superstar in the much-heralded rookie Maya Moore and the 40-year-old, over-achieving basketball lifer in McWilliams-Franklin. Combined with Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson, the Lynx coalesced into a championship contender.

In full ‘“Mama Taj” mode, McWilliams-Franklin provided sturdy, veteran leadership for an organization with a losing reputation. Her experienced play also proved pivotal. With McWilliams-Franklin manning the back line, the Lynx captured the 2011 WNBA title and appeared poised to add a second in 2012, until a GOAT and her pack of underdogs — the Tamika Catchings-led Indiana Fever — ruined the repeat.

Somewhat ironically, McWilliams-Franklin, the longtime underdog, decided to call it quits right after she was no longer the underdog, but a member of the top dog squad that suffered an upset. McWilliams-Franklin retired from the WNBA at age 41 after the 2012 season. She would play one more season abroad, joining Clube Amigos do Basquet in Spain in 2013-14. In total, her professional basketball career, which spanned over 30 years, was a testament to perseverance.

Swin Cash

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2012  –  United Kingdom

Swin Cash started her basketball career as a forward at UConn. As a sophomore, she won her first career national title averaging 9.9 points and 5.3 rebounds and earning All-Big East Third Team honors. As a senior, Cash averaged 14.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. She also earned 2002 Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors after leading the Huskies to an undefeated 39-0 season and second national title in three years.

Drafted into the WBNA by Detroit in 2002, Cash went on to spend 15 seasons with teams such as the Seattle Storm, the Chicago Sky, the Atlanta Dream, and the New York Liberty. During her WBNA career, Cash accumulated three WNBA Championships (2003, 2006, 2010). She averaged 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

Internationally, Cash won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece, a second gold medal with Team USA in the FIBA World Championships for Women in the Czech Republic in 2010, and a third Olympic gold medal at the 2012 Summer Games in London. Cash also played in Russia and the Czech Republic.

Outside of basketball, in 2005, Cash launched Cash for Kids, a charitable organization that raises money for children in need.

Sue Wicks

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2009  –  Philippines
  • 2010  –  Indonesia
  • 2011  –  Dominican Republic
  • 2013  –  Malaysia
  • 2016  –  Cambodia
  • 2017  –  Jordan

Sue Wicks was a first-round selection by the New York Liberty in the WNBA’s inaugural draft in 1997. Wicks went on to play six seasons with the Liberty, earning an All-Star selection in 2000. She also was the recipient of the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award in 2000. Wicks finished her WNBA career in eighth place all-time in blocked shots.

Wicks played collegiately at Rutgers University, where she was a three-time All-American and the 1988 National Player of the Year. She was inducted into Rutgers’ Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June 2013.

Sheri Sam

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2018  –  Armenia
  • 2018  –  Georgia

Sheri Sam (born May 05, 1974) is a guard for the Orlando Miracle. She played college basketball at Vanderbilt.

Shameka Christon

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2005  –  Algeria

Born in Illinois, Shameka Christon began her basketball career at Hot Springs High School, guiding the team to back-to-back state championships while earning state championship MVP honors twice. She was also named Gatorade Player of the Year and earned Arkansas Player of the Year honors.

At the University of Arkansas, Christon was named SEC Player of the Year as a senior in 2004 after averaging career-highs of 21.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. She finished her collegial career ranked second on Arkansas’ all-time scoring list (1,951 points).

Post-graduation, Christon was selected by New York in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2004 WNBA Draft. Her 2009 season saw her named to the WNBA All-Star team with a career high average of 16.1 points and 4.9 rebounds. In 2010, she was then traded to Chicago. In 2012, Christon signed with San Antonio as a free agent. Across her 11 WNBA seasons, Christon averaged 9.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.

Internationally, Christon won a Gold Medal with Team USA at the 2002 FIBA World Championships for Women in China. She additionally spent the WBNA off-seasons playing for teams in countries such as Russia, Poland, Spain, and Israel.

Outside of basketball, Christon owns her own company, Shameka Christon Enterprises, an organization which encompasses profit and non-profit ventures, including a daycare, mentoring program, and personal basketball and fitness training academy.

Ruthie Bolton

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Saudi Arabia
  • 2013  –  Kazakhstan
  • 2014  –  Moldova
  • 2015  –  Bangladesh
  • 2018  –  Armenia
  • 2018  –  Georgia
  • 2019  –  Kosovo
  • 2019  –  Albania

Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and WNBA All-Star.

Scored over 2,000 career points, is fourth of the WNBA’s all-time 3-pointer list, and is the only player in the history of the Sacramento Monarchs to have her number retired.

First WNBA Player of the Week in July of 1997, a member of the 1999 First Team All WNBA, and a two-time WNBA All-Star in 1999 and 2001
The 1991 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.

Played with the 1995-96 US Women’s National Team that compiled a perfect 60-0 record.

In four seasons at Auburn, she led her team to a combined record of 199-13, which included three Southeastern Conference Championships (1987-1989), four NCAA Tournament appearances and two runner-up finishes in 1988 and 1989.

She was named to the 1988 NCAA Women’s Final Four All-Tournament Team.

A 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army.

2011 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.