Memorable speeches highlight Women's Basketball HOF induction

Randy Tipps, far left, and sister Gail Tipps were on hand to represent their late father, Bill Tipps, while (left to right) Joe Lombard, Sherri Coale, June Courteau, Natalie Williams and Jackie Stiles were also inducted Saturday. Courtesy of Women's Basketball Hall of Fame

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale thanked many of her former players, including the very first group of high school kids she ever coached. Referee June Courteau joked about the most creative (non-profane) insult she ever heard from a fan. Former player Jackie Stiles said she was glad she didn't listen to psychic advice when making her college choice.

Those were among the many highlights from Saturday's speeches by the inductees into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

At the beautiful, ornate Tennessee Theater in downtown Knoxville, five of the six inductees and the children of the other spoke to the audience about the ties that bind everyone in the women's basketball world. And each added his or her own personal touches to the journeys that brought all of them to this honor.

Here are some snippets from the speeches of the Class of 2016:

Sherri Coale, Oklahoma coach

Coale was escorted into the ceremony by former Oklahoma associate athletic director Marita Hynes, the woman who hired her at OU from her previous job at Norman High School.

Coale spoke of a quote she has on the wall of the Sooners' film room: "We are all just dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants," and called Hynes the "giant" who mentored her and believed in her when few others would have.

Coale also gave thanks to all who have played for her, starting with her initial team at Norman High.

"To that first crew at Norman who got the 24-year-old version of me: Bless your hearts," Coale joked. "You're the true heroes."

Joe Lombard, Canyon and Nazareth (Texas) high school coach

Lombard actually got into coaching after his wife, Babs, did. And for a while, they were both at that demanding job. Lombard now has won 18 state titles in Texas, with his most recent coming earlier this year.

He acknowledged being a bit superstitious, including with what he wears to games.

"One year, I was into the lucky-sweater thing," Lombard said. "So I got about five sweaters, and Babs got about five for Christmas. One day I got one out, and it felt a little tight, but I liked it. We went on to win, but after the game, Babs chewed me out for wearing her sweater.

"I said, 'Babs, that's my sweater now. We won the game and I'm going to keep wearing it.'"

Jackie Stiles, player for Missouri State and the WNBA

If you know anything about Stiles, you know how easily she always could get stressed out about anything that came off the basketball court. Including the matter of picking a college.

Many coaches made their way to tiny Claflin, Kansas, to recruit her, including Coale. Stiles, though, had known the Missouri State coaches since she was about 12 years old, had gone to the Lady Bears' summer camps, and felt a very powerful pull to go to school there.

She also felt a lot of pressure, though, to consider multiple other options. In the end, her heart took her to Missouri State, where she is still one of the most beloved athletes in school history.

"I am so thankful that I did not listen to the psychic hotline that I called when I was struggling with the decision," Stiles said, prompting a roar of laugher from the crowd. "I did that; I hate to admit it. But they told me to go to UConn."

Natalie Williams, player for UCLA and the WNBA

Williams was a two-sport star in her days with the Bruins, and then played for both USA Volleyball and USA Basketball. But as busy as she was in her competitive days, she's almost just as busy now.

She's a coach for the Utah Flash program, which has 22 teams ranging in age from third grade to high school. Of her four children, three are playing basketball and the other is into dancing.

"Just last Saturday, in an eight-hour span," Williams said, "my 15-year-old daughter had three basketball games. My 9-year-old daughter had two basketball games. My 6-year-old had a basketball game and a softball game. And my son had hip-hop tryouts.

"This is our life, always. Every weekend. It's crazy, but I so appreciate my mom, dad, and all of my family who helps out."

June Courteau, referee

If you are an official, you learn to tune out the many voices you hear during a game. Or at least you try to -- especially those coming from the stands. But sometimes, you just can't help but notice what fans say.

Courteau was an official in many games played at Tennessee, and said she was happy to be back in Knoxville as it was the place she heard a particularly memorable insult from a fan.

"I'll never forget it," Courteau said. "I was standing on the baseline, and the ball went out of bounds and I made the call. And this guy says, 'Lady, you couldn't call a cab in the rain.'

"I turned around and said, 'You can sit here and say whatever you want, because that's the most creative thing I've heard.'"

Bill Tipps, AAU organizer

Tipps passed away in 2011, but two of his adult children, Randy and Gail Tipps, accepted the honor and spoke on his behalf. Gail's involvement in playing basketball got her father interested in AAU. Eventually, Tipps became the director who oversaw thousands of athletes and hundreds of tournaments.

"Imagine keeping track of all that without cell phones, email, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat ... or whatever else is being invented tonight," Gail said.