October 25, 2023
‘I’m coming here to stir things up’: Inside Teresa Weatherspoon’s intro presser as Chicago Sky head coach
Rawlinson: 'We do things our own way here at the Sky, and we do things differently'
CHICAGO — You could tell by the weather forecast on Tuesday that the day would be special. A bright and sunny 75-degree October day, Chicago couldn’t have scripted it any better for the introduction of new Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon.
Inside Wintrust Arena, the second floor overflowed with cameras, catered food filling the outskirts. Rows of seats for media personnel were lined up in front of a table with three microphones. On the heels of a challenging season, the excitement in the arena was infectious.
The Sky checked a significant box on their off-season to-do list on Tuesday, officially introducing Weatherspoon. At 11 AM sharp, Weatherspoon, Co-Owner and Operating Chairman Nadia Rawlinson and Sky guard Kahleah Copper made their way to the press table to give opening statements. What followed provided the public’s first insights into not only what separated Weatherspoon from the pack and her early relationship with Copper, but also why she was hired before the team added a general manager.
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When asked what stood out about the first conversation, the newly re-signed Copper was quick to mention Weatherspoon’s energy as a key factor that separated her from the group of candidates.
“It was our energy,” Copper said. “We connected over energy. And I said, I’ve never had a coach that could really match my energy, and that was just something that really hit me.”
Weatherspoon said she prides herself on cultivating relationships with her players, and the “energy” that Copper discusses requires her to do so in a meaningful way, a distinction she knows well from her time as a player.
“But the most important thing is, to have a relationship,” Weatherspoon said. “Find out what makes them go. You know why they do what they do, and when you gain that relationship with them, you know your conversations, your deepest conversations, your hardest conversations are easy, because they’re going to know that you are for them in the right way. So that’s the most important thing.”
However, her emphasis on relationships does not begin and end with the players on the roster — it extends to the broader Chicago area itself.
“I am big on the community,” Weatherspoon said. “If you want to be the talk of the town, you have to be in the town…. as we connect with the community, we connect with our fans. Connection means everything. We want to pull them into what we do. But if we pull them into what we do, we have to be a part of what they do.”
Weatherspoon, however, doesn’t yet know who she’ll report to, with the Sky general manager position still unfilled. Typically, a new GM gets to pick, or at least have a say in, the new head coach.
“This was the right thing for us to make sure that we anchored the coach, and when we knew that Teresa was someone that was in our sites, and that she was interested,” Rawlinson said. “This was an important component of the vision. She was a critical part of that, and so that was why we pursued the coaching position first. The GM is an ongoing process we feel really good about, and we will announce something when we have some news to share.”
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Ultimately, a deviation from the norm didn’t seem to faze anyone in the room. As Rawlinson said of the GM decision: “We do things our own way here at the Sky, and we do things differently.”
And Weatherspoon herself sounded ready to chart a new course for the franchise as well.
“They don’t call me (Coach) Spoon for nothing,” she said with her trademark smile. “I’m coming here to stir things up.”
Written by Monique Newton
Monique Newton is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Northwestern University. She covers the Chicago Sky for The Next and has lived in Chicago since 2019. An Oberlin College graduate, Monique is a 2x Division III National Track and Field Champion.