“Back then, we basically didn’t really have any money,” Ryan recalled. “We didn’t have a locker room. We had urinals in the bathrooms. We got hand-me-down uniforms and equipment. ... I had to fight through a lot of things early on in my career to get what we needed.”
With more than 700 career wins and enshrinement in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennesee, Ryan stands among an elite group of coaches.
“I really loved the athletic life and I learned so much from my fellow coaches and administrators,” she said. “Obviously, the Final Four years (1990-92) were great years. But some of the best years were the building of the program. The early years and watching players graduate and go on to do great things themselves,” including serving as president of the WNBA, as former Hoo Val Ackerman did.
“That really is the crux of why you do this,” Ryan said. “It’s not the wins and losses. Those things are all great in the moment. But what your players do behind basketball, and knowing that you’re an important part of somebody’s life for the rest of their life, is really far more satisfying.”