Women’s basketball legend speaks to Elans

Courtesy of Mario Villegas

By Amber Paramo

Former University of California, Los Angeles women’s basketball standout Ann Meyers Drysdale shared her impact and success in women’s basketball for Women’s History Month.

Drysdale was the first woman player drafted by the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WPBL) in 1978 to the New Jersey Gems. Playing for the Gems, Drysdale was the WPBL Co-MVP for the 1979–1980 season.

She also became the first and only woman to be considered for the National Basketball Association (NBA).

In 1980, Drysdale made NBA history when she received a call to try out with NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

She participated in three-day tryouts for the team, as the first woman for the NBA.

Although she did not make the final squad, she had the opportunity to be a sports commentator for the team who few women were in sportscasting.

Drysdale opened the way for women in the basketball industry where women were not easily accepted.

She was also the first female player to be part of the U.S. national team while still in high school and continued to be a  standout player at the professional level.

Most of her life, she played on teams with all boys, where people criticized her for her short hair and athletic skills.

“I was teased, but it actually made me a stronger person,” Drysdale said.

Coming from a large family, her parents could barely afford her education.

According to Drysdale, she was lucky to come across a scholarship  opportunity that made history and paid for her dreams.

Drysdale was the first woman to ever earn a full athletic scholarship to a division one school, UCLA, where she won a championship.

Drysdale currently serves as the president for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and president of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

For her, success didn’t come easy. She explains that through her book “You Let Some Girl Beat You?” Her book is about hope and facing adversity struggles.

“People are going to tell you you can’t do anything, but if you have a dream, you can accomplish anything,” Drysdale said. “Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can.”

Growing up in the 50s’ and 60s’, parents didn’t always support their daughters in sports, Drysdale’s parents supported their kids.

Her parents were very supportive of their daughters in sports just as their sons did.

Drysdale’s father enjoyed playing  basketball, which encouraged Drysdale and her siblings to play. Her father played basketball professionally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Although her family was into sports, her parents never favored sports over education.

Her family believed in staying busy. Whether it was with sports, chores or studies.

Her parents believed in hard work and dedication.

“For me, sports was a great outlet for my family,” Drysdale said. “There was a lot of competition.”

Coming from a family of six brothers and five sisters,  Drysdale appreciates the competitiveness in the household because it helped her to become a strong and eager person.

“With my family’s support and criticism, they got me where I am today,” Drysdale said.

In 1986, she married former Los Angeles Dodger Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale, where they became the  first married couple who were members of their respective sports’ Halls of Fame.

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