Basketball Hall of Famer · BIG3 Head Coach of Team Power · 2018 BIG3 Champion · Coach of the Year
Through her partnership with BSN SPORTS, Nancy Lieberman works to elevate girls’ sports by providing ongoing coaching resources and content.
Among her many accomplishments, Nancy was the first female head coach to win a championship in a professional men’s sports league. On November 5, 2009, she became the first female head coach of a men’s professional basketball team, for the NBA’s G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends. She led them to the playoffs in her first year. Nancy was the second woman to be named assistant coach in NBA history in 2015 by the Sacramento Kings.
In 1989, Nancy created the Nancy Lieberman Charities, which uses basketball clinics and camps to teach young girls and boys about drug and alcohol awareness, peer pressure and the advantages of getting a good education. Sports are and have been STEM for years – Science of Sports, Technology for improvement, Engineering of the player’s build and Math for development of being a critical thinker. Coach Lieberman is also actively involved with the Special Olympics, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter.
Q&A with Coach Nancy Lieberman
Q: What has the partnership with BSN SPORTS & the TGCA meant to you?
A: My partnership with BSN SPORTS goes back decades, since the late 80s when I was an ambassador. BSN SPORTS has always been ahead of its time with regards to equality, opportunity and wanting to help athletes. They realize they have an opportunity to do some dynamic work, not only through BSN SPORTS, but also by elevating the student experience in spirit and achievement with Varsity Spirit and Herff Jones. I am so grateful to be a part of an organization that can impact every aspect of a coach and student-athlete’s experience.
BSN SPORTS knows it has a responsibility to sport. By partnering with myself, the Texas Girls Coaching Association (TGCA) and the greater coaching community, we’re able to help coaches on a deeper level than ever before. There’s strength in numbers. We can help their coaches who, in turn, can help players and from there, it snowballs into something very powerful. We want to educate, advocate and celebrate coaches and women, and I couldn’t think of two better organizations to do that with than BSN SPORTS and the TGCA.
Q: Who is/was a coach/individual who impacted and helped you throughout your career?
A: Muhammad Ali was this person in my life. He was always pushing me to accept challenges and do things that had never been done before. It was always the time to do things people said you couldn’t do. He once said, “God made me special” and my response as a 19-year-old was, “Wow, you know everyone.” I think in that moment, he realized that I needed him and needed his guidance. He changed and pushed past every boundary put in front of him and helped me to do the same. I am, overall, just very proud to be a part of his legacy and I just want to be all that he wanted me to be.
He taught me that we cannot do it all by ourselves. We have to surround ourselves with people who are going to push us to grow and then, in turn, we need to help others in the process to push and help them grow as well. I tell young girls all the time, don’t let people tell you what you can be because sometimes, they’ll impose their mediocracy on you. Sometimes the beliefs of those who are afraid and think “I can’t” or “I won’t” can filter into your life. This is what we don’t want. Be all that you can be by surrounding yourself with people who can guide you to your full potential.
Q: What advice do you have for current women’s sports coaches & athletes on how to push past the boundaries?
A: The first thing that I would say is work harder, work smarter and lift when you rise—meaning when you do well, bring someone with you, maybe someone that looks different than you or who faces different challenges; just giving someone else a chance, overall. I think that mentorship is very important. Find people who you feel are doing something right and try to mirror or exceed that. A perfect example of this is Kobe Bryant. He said in The Last Dance, “I would not be who I am today without Michael Jordan’s guidance, mentorship and love.” Connect with people and ask them for their opinions. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries. Ask for advice and be confident enough to stand alone. Failure is noble. You tried and you must have this mindset to break boundaries. Without it, you won’t accomplish your goals.
Overall, I want everyone to understand that men are not our adversary. I have had many men genuinely impact my life and propel me in my career—in playing, coaching, broadcasting and life. Men, women, coaches, teachers. All can have a positive impact. You must have people in your corner who are advocates for your growth and are there to assist you in reaching your goals. Remember to communicate your goals. Without communication, people won’t know you need them to help you take the right steps to reach your goals. No one is a mind reader. Without believing in yourself and speaking confidently about what you want to accomplish, they won’t be able to help, regardless of sex. Once you have this belief and share it with others, you’ll see tremendous growth throughout your life and career.