‘A championship coach’: Becky Hammon’s trailblazing legacy

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Collegian | Chloe Leline

Karsyn Lane, Sports Director

A legend, pioneer and champion on any court, Becky Hammon continues creating a legacy much deeper than just a game.

Prior to being the NBA’s first female acting head coach and the league’s first full-time female assistant coach, she was one of the most accomplished women’s basketball players in Colorado State University history. Most recently, Hammon’s name lit up the Las Vegas lights as she led the Las Vegas Aces to the first championship in Ace history, winning the 2022 WNBA Finals and Coach of the Year award as a first-year head coach.

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Colorado State first got a taste of Hammon’s magic in 1996, when she began playing for the CSU women’s basketball team.

Her career was exceptional, and she’s unstoppable: She earned four first-team All-Conference accolades, 14 conference player of the week awards and a 1999 Associated Press first-team All-American award. Hammon also received honors all four years at CSU, including Freshman of the Year in the Western Athletic Conference in 1996, Player of the Year in the WAC Pacific Division in 1997 and Player of the Year in the WAC Mountain Division in 1998 and 1999.

Hammon’s court performance ignited Moby Arena — it was only fair she left behind her green and gold #25 legacy, and she is the only CSU women’s basketball player to have their number retired.

“It’s neat for our kids to see a CSU Ram accomplish big things. This place can take you wherever you want it to take you, and Becky (Hammon) surely showed everyone that.” -Ryun Williams, CSU women’s basketball head coach

As her career continued, Hammon broke handfuls of records and changed the game against dominating gender barriers in the world of basketball.

Appointed by the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant in 2014, she became the first female full-time assistant coach in NBA history. She didn’t stop there, though, as she soon transitioned into her first year as head coach for the Las Vegas Aces. Defying all odds, her accomplishments speak much louder than any words.

“Becky (Hammon) was a championship coach before she won a championship,” said Ryun Williams, CSU women’s basketball head coach. “She’s been a trailblazer in the women’s game for a long, long time. She’s a young lady that set her sight on something she wanted to go get (and) be an inspiration to others, and that’s exactly what she’s done.”

“She’s conquered that male-dominated hurdle that’s slowly being lowered but is still a barrier,” Williams said. “Our kids can see that, and hopefully (it) inspires our kids to dream big.”

Since entering the WNBA, Hammon has passed on her skillsets and embraced the role of head coach. On Sept. 18, the Aces defeated the Connecticut Suns 78-71 in the final championship matchup to capture the WNBA title.

“It’s neat for our kids to see a CSU Ram accomplish big things,” Williams said. “This place can take you wherever you want it to take you, and Becky (Hammon) surely showed everyone that.”

Not to get ahead of ourselves, being that Hammon still has plenty of years to take her career even further, but it’s important to acknowledge how big her legacy has grown since her time at Colorado State.

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From breaking records to breaking barriers, “especially during the year that we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX, she is a huge inspiration,” Williams said. “Women’s basketball is still not a very old game, when you think about it. (Where) Becky (Hammon) has taken her career and the game itself is just impressive.”

Reach Karsyn Lane at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @karsynlane1.