Compared to other professional sports organizations in America, the NBA is known to have somewhat of a progressive stance on social issues. This year we saw Kevin Love and other speaking publicly about mental health. This was a big step because there is still a large stigma surrounding mental health in America and especially so in the sports world.
But the NBA has never had a female coach. Well, at least not yet until Jenny Boucek came on the scene.
Jenny Boucek’s Playing Career.
Jenny Boucek has had a storied career as both a player and coach. In college she started all four years at the University of Virginia. She took her team to the elite eight of the NCAA tournament three times. She and her Cavaliers also made it to four Atlantic Coast Conference championships. She was twice awarded the honor of defensive player of the year. By the end of her four-year career at Virginia she had broken the 1,000-point mark.
She was already a star in college but her success did not stop there. Unfortunately she would be sidelined by a back injury after only two years of professional ball. Her first year out of college she played for the Cleveland Rockers. After a year in the WNBA she elected to move on to Iceland where she played for Keflavik. In her one season in Iceland she won the Icelandic championship as well as the Icelandic Basketball Cup. For her outstanding playing she was awarded the Foreign Player Of The Year award.
After a year abroad it was time to come back to the US and the WNBA. So in 1998 she returned to the Cleveland Rockers. But this is when she had the bad luck of the back injury. Her playing career was over.
On To Coaching
The year after her injury she was back as an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics. Her stint there was short lived as she moved on to the Miami Sol where she was an assistant coach for three seasons.
In 2003 she joined the Seattle Storm, also as an assistant coach. The following season she helped bring the team to the finals, in which they defeated the Connecticut Sun.
Her big break came in 2007 when she became the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs. This was her first head coaching position and a big step up from assistant. However, she was not very successful. After two years as the head coach, the team came out with a roughly 500 record. She was dismissed from her position.
But in 2015 she was at the helm of her old team, the Seattle Storm. She coached for another two seasons before being let go again due the team’s performance. But this is when she switched over from the WNBA to the NBA.
In 2017, she became the Sacramento King’s player development coach. She was only the third woman in history to be an assistant in the NBA. But she didn’t stop there.
This year she became the first ever, female assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks. As if this wasn’t big enough news, Boucek had a secret.
Through much of the 2017/2018 season, Boucek was pregnant. When she told Rick Carlisle, the head coach, he had no problem with it. In fact, the Mavericks have designed a special position for her to accommodate her needs when the baby comes.
Boucek needs to be with her baby for the first six months. So the Mavericks have decided the she will have a non-travelling coaching position. When they are at home in Dallas she will act as a normal assistant coach. When they are on the road she will of course watch the games, go over film, and give feedback and comments to Carlisle and the team.
The Mavericks are being heralded as an upstanding organization for handling the situation. Where some teams may have let Boucek go because of her pregnancy, the Mavericks have recognized her value and that a coach like her is hard to come by.
The NBA has had several female assistant coaches, including Boucek. But the league has still yet to see a female head coach. It’s possible that that day is still a ways in the future. But it can only be seen as a step in the right direction that Boucek and her peers are climbing the ladder. In the coming years, don’t be surprised to hear Boucek’s name thrown around as a possible NBA head coach.