In 1996, Sheryl Swoopes, former Texas Tech basketball star became the very first player to sign with the Women’s National Basketball Association or the (WNBA), which debuted the following year. While she was at Tech, she was named the AP Female Athlete of the Year for basketball as well as the National Player of the Year by nine different organizations, including the two most important, USA Today and Sports Illustrated. She won Olympic gold in 1996, 2000, and 2004, and played for the Houston Comets for 11 years and was named the leagues MVP three times. She also played with the Seattle Storm. The WNBA, approaching it’s 20th year of existence feature other African-American women. Lynette Woodard, the former Globetrotter, signed with the league in it’s inaugural season and played until 1999, which finally fulfilled her dream of playing in a professional women’s league. Other black pioneers were Cynthia Cooper, Lisa Leslie, and Tina Thompson.