On May 30, following the retirement of veteran coach Dan Hughes, Noelle Quinn was named head coach of the reigning WNBA Champion Seattle Storm. Quinn and Vickie Johnson of the Dallas Wings are currently the only two Black female head coaches in the WNBA. Quinn is the first person to be head coach of a team with which she won a WNBA title as a player (2018) and also the first Black head coach in Storm history.
Quinn, 36, thanked Storm ownership for entrusting her with the opportunity. “Empowered me, believed in me and supported me in the ability to lead this team,” said Quinn, who also thanked Hughes for making her part of his coaching staff.
The Seattle Storm is currently 10–2, sitting atop the WNBA rankings. The team includes Sue Bird, who is part of all three of the Storm’s WNBA titles, two-time Finals MVP Breanna Stewart, and Jewel Loyd, who is currently having an amazing season. Quinn said the team is at its best when the players and coaching staff are having fun and feeling joyful, but she is also ready to challenge them to bring their best.
“My leadership isn’t going to be loud and boisterous, but it’s going to be sharp; it’s going to be dominant; it’s going to be necessary,” said Quinn, a native Californian who grew up watching the Los Angeles Sparks and graduated from UCLA. “I played in this league for a long time [2007–’18]. I played for great coaches. I played alongside some great players, and I understand what…kind of coaches players like.”
Quinn also knows the league’s history, mentioning Black female coaches who preceded her, Cheryl Miller, Carolyn Peck, Cynthia Cooper and Trudi Lacey among them. “I sit on those shoulders, and for me it’s important that I’m not a woman, I’m a Black woman,” said Quinn, who added that representation matters. “I sit with that every day. Sometimes, that can be a negative thing…but I’m empowered in that. There’s value in that.
“My experiences have molded me, and that is who I am,” she continued. “I am super honored to hold this. … I love to win, but what moves me is my impact, and I know that I have impact in saying that I’m a first of something. I hold that dear to my heart and every day I will move in a way that will honor that and honor these ladies’ legacy that have paved the way for me to be here.”