Head coach of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx
For most people, getting a call from President Barack Obama is a funny dream you tell to your friends. But for Cheryl Reeve, ’88, MBA ’90, it was a reality. The President was calling to her on being named WMBA’s Coach of the Year and for leading her team, the Minnesota Lynx, to win the national championship (they’ve since won their second championship under Reeve’s leadership).
“The President’s phone call was a great thrill,” Reeve recalled. “I felt both humbled and honored that he took the time to recognize our great accomplishment. I was impressed with his knowledge of not only the WNBA and its players, but the details of our wins versus Atlanta in the finals.”
But Reeve’s life has been filled with many great accomplishments, whether on the court as a player, on its sidelines as a coach, or in the classroom as a student. Reeve was a crucial member of the women’s basketball team at La Salle, leading the Explorers to a 25-5 record in 1987-1988. Not only was she an All-Big 5 selection as a senior and named All-Metro Atlantic Conference, but she also currently holds the school record for starting in 110 games. In addition, the Washington Township, N.J., native was a Rhodes Scholar nominee and received a MAAC Scholar –Athlete Post Graduate Award and a NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship in 1988. She graduated with a degree in computer science and management information systems and went back to La Salle to earn her MBA.
“My time at La Salle as a student-athlete fostered the traits that my parents instilled in my two brothers and me as kids-commitment to discipline, hard work, and attention to detail,” Reeve said. ‘The professors I had at La Salle, along with coaches Speedy Morris and John Miller, challenged me in many ways and largely shaped the person and the professional I am today.”
Before her senior year, Reeve had an internship with the IRS related to her majors, and she also served as a counselor at Cathy Rush camps, where she coached young girls on the fundamentals of basketball. “It was through these experiences that I learned my passion was basketball,” she said. Feeling sad once her college career was over, she knew in order to fulfill her love of the game she should pursue coaching
She started off as a graduate assistant coach for the Explorers while she was completing her master’s degree. She moved on to serve as an assistant coach at George Washington for five seasons before becoming the head coach at Indiana State for four years. Soon, she entered the WNBA, serving as an assistant coach for the Charlotte Sting, the Cleveland Rockers, and the Detroit Shock before making her debut as a head coach for the Lynx in 2009.
Reeve helped the Lynx with a major improvement to their record. The team finished the 2011 season with a league-best record of 27-7, the second largest turnaround in WNBA history.
For the 2012 season, she was overwhelmingly chosen as the WNBA Coach of the Year, winning the vast majority of the votes, but Reeve humbly noted that her staff and players helped her win the award. “No Coach of the Year has ever earned the honor by himself or herself, and I am no exception,” she said. “My experience as a WNBA head coach has been challenging, exciting, and fulfilling. I love waking up every day as head coach of the Minnesota Lynx and feel extremely blessed.”
With the award and two championships under her belt, Reeve looks back positively. “We had a super group of players who are tremendous people as well. Every championship team talks about having chemistry, and boy, we were special in this area,” Reeve said. “We were talented, tough-minded, and selfless—this made us very difficult to play against.”
But she knows she wouldn’t be where she is today without the time spent honing her skills and passion for basketball at her alma mater. “I have such fond memories of my days at La Salle. It’s largely where it all started for me,” she said. “During this time, I grew from being a shy kid from South Jersey to finding a foundation for who I wanted to be as a person and as a professional.”