Noelle Quinn went from being a fan of the WNBA to making history in the league. Quinn was recently named the head coach of the Seattle Storm, making her the first African American female coach of the franchise. During her introductory press conference, she named off several Black Women who worked in the WNBA, including Cheryl Miller, Penny Toler, and Dallas Wings head coach Vickie Johnson.
“They crawled so I could walk, I sit on those shoulders,” Quinn said. “I’m not a woman, I’m a Black woman … I sit with that every day and sometimes it could be a negative, a double negative for me.”
Quinn started playing basketball at a young age, since youth basketball leagues for girls were rare at the time, she played in leagues against boys. Her schoolteacher mother became a season ticket holder for the Los Angeles Sparks. Quinn attended Sparks games, watching the likes of Lisa Leslie and Tameka Dixon.
“It’s one thing to have goals, but it’s one thing to see someone who looks like you are doing what you aspire to do,” Quinn said.
She rose into prominence during her time at Bishop Montgomery High School. As a freshman, Quinn scored 31 points in a game. Quinn then scored over 20 points for six consecutive games, which is a school record.
Quinn helped the Lady Knights basketball team win four Southern Section titles as well as four State titles. She earned five Southern Section Player of the Year honors, four for basketball and one for volleyball. Quinn also earned three All -League MVP, four All-League first team, and four All-CIF first team honors. National recognition soon followed as Quinn became a three-time McDonalds All-American.
Quinn became the first Bishop Montgomery player to have their number retired. In 2003, she took her talents to UCLA and ultimately became one of the best ‘all-around’ players in program history.
During the 2003-2004 season, she was Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and ultimately became the first basketball player in UCLA history to score 1,700 points, 700 rebounds and 400 assists in her career. Her efforts on the court gave her three Pac-10 first team honors.
In 2006, Quinn helped the Bruins win the Pac-10 tournament title; she also helped UCLA reach the NCAA tournament in 2004 and 2006. In the 107 games Quinn played for the Bruins, she was a starter for 106 of them. Quinn is seventh place in UCLA history in scoring with 1,829 points.
Quinn graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Sociology. During her career, she made 17.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game while shooting at 43.2 percent from the field.
In 2007, Quinn was the fourth overall pick in the WNBA Draft; she was acquired by the Minnesota Lynx. During her 12-year career, she played for the Lynx, L.A. Sparks, Washington Mystics, Seattle Storm, and Phoenix Mercury.
In 2016, Quinn participated in the WNBA’s internship program which led her to become co-head coach of the Bishop Montgomery girls’ basketball team. During her first year as coach, the Lady Knights won the Southern Section championship.
Quinn played for the Seattle Storm when they won the WNBA championship in 2018 and retired shortly after. She then joined the Storm’s coaching staff in 2019 and helped the team win another championship in 2020.
Last year, Quinn was inducted into UCLA’s Hall of Fame.