The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee, will honor six inductees this weekend. It also will have another special group of guests to be saluted as "trailblazers": several members of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team that won gold in Atlanta and helped pave the way for the WNBA.
The 2016 class includes two coaches, two players, one referee and one contributor. Here is a look at the newest members of the Hall:
Coach | University of Oklahoma
There are certain college coaches who become synonymous with their programs, and Coale is one of them. She was born and grew up in Oklahoma, played college basketball there (Oklahoma Christian), and was a coach/teacher at Norman High School. Her next job kept her in the same city, but put her on a much larger stage: She took over at Oklahoma in 1996, the same year that the Big Eight and four members of the Southwest Conference merged to form the Big 12. Coale has been one of that league's more successful coaches in any sport. Her record is 442-217, and she has led the Sooners to the Final Four three times. Oklahoma has won four Big 12 tournament titles under Coale, whose program has all of its scholarships endowed.
Contributor | NCAA and WNBA referee
Courteau was a three-sport athlete (basketball, softball, volleyball) at Winona State in Minnesota in the late 1960s/early 1970s. She worked in education and eventually became one of the most prominent referees in women's basketball. She started officiating while still in college and continued on-court officiating until 2011, her experience spanning some 45 years. She officiated in 12 women's Final Fours, including five championship games. She also officiated in the WNBA from the league's inception in 1997 to 2011. Courteau is now the NCAA's national coordinator of women's basketball officiating.
Coach | Nazareth and Canyon High Schools
They love high school girls' basketball in West Texas, and Lombard is one of the reasons why. His teams at Nazareth and Canyon High Schools have combined to win 1,200 games and take 18 state championships; Canyon won the 2016 class 5A state title earlier this year. He earned national coach of the year honors from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and USA Today in 2003, and was inducted into the Texas Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. He started his coaching career in 1979 after attending a university known for its extensive women's basketball history: Wayland Baptist. Lombard also has a son and a daughter who are successful high school basketball coaches in Texas; son Tate Lombard's Wall High team won the Texas 3A title this year the same day Joe won in 5A.
Player | Missouri State University, WNBA
A native of tiny Claflin, Kansas, Stiles honed her prodigious basketball scoring skills with tireless practice and was also a high school track and field standout. Stiles scored 3,393 points at Missouri State, the most in the NCAA era in women's basketball. In her senior year of 2000-01, Stiles scored an NCAA-record 1,062 points and led the Lady Bears to the Final Four. Stiles was named WNBA rookie of the year in 2001 with the Portland Fire, but was plagued by injuries that cut short her career. She is now an assistant coach for women's basketball at her alma mater in Springfield, Missouri.
Contributor | USA Basketball, AAU executive
Tipps was a Tennessee businessman who got involved in AAU basketball because his daughter was playing and then stayed with it. His organizational and management skills served AAU sports very well for nearly four decades, and he was chairman of AAU Girls Basketball from 1979-91. Countless girls played in AAU tournaments that were coordinated by Tipps, who also worked with USA Basketball, and his legacy of making their experiences as positive as possible remains. Tipps died in 2011.
Player | UCLA, WNBA, USA Basketball
Even back in the days when two-sport standouts were a little more common, Williams was uncommonly great at both basketball and volleyball. She earned All-American honors in both sports at UCLA and even played for the Bruins on both teams on the same day once. In college (1990-94), volleyball was the sport that Williams favored a little more. But basketball became not only her professional career, but also the sport in which she won Olympic gold (2000) and world championship gold (1998, 2002). Williams played in the ABL and the WNBA; in the latter she was a three-time all-league first-team selection.