Seven years ago the first ever starting five for the Chicago Sky took the court at UIC Pavilion. It was a day of firsts for the brand new franchise and the players that joined the Sky through the Expansion Draft late in 2005. Brooke Wyckoff was a part of that original starting five. Down 4-0 in the opening minutes of the game, Brooke drove down the lane and scored the first basket at home for the Sky and the crowd went wild! Now as the Sky heads into their seventh season, fans still wear her jersey proudly.
Since hanging up her Sky jersey in 2009, Brooke is back at the place where her WNBA dreams began, Florida State University, embarking on the next phase of her basketball career coaching.
For Brooke, FSU was where it all started. When I played at Florida State I really wanted to make it into the WNBA, she said. Brooke sparked the rise of the Florida State women's basketball program, she was a standout player on the court from 1997 to 2001. In her senior year, she led the Seminoles to their first winning season in nine years, which culminated in the school's first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Wyckoff's 1,350 career points is still the 10th highest in school history. She ranks No. 2 at FSU in career blocks with 209. She averaged 12.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while starting all 109 games she played while at the university. Brooke is one of only four Seminoles to have had their jerseys retired.
After an amazing career at Florida State, Brooke was drafted by the Orlando Miracle in the second round of the 2001 WNBA Draft. She spent two seasons in Orlando before the team traded her to the Connecticut Sun where she played her next three seasons. Brooke was then selected by the Chicago Sky in the 2005 WNBA Expansion draft and the girl who grew up in Lake Forest, IL quickly became a fan favorite.
Chicago is such an amazing city, said Brooke. I was born here, so when I heard they were going to have a team, I was really excited, and when I heard they were drafting me I was even more excited! It was such a great experience living there in the summer and being back around my family was great.
It wasnt just because Brooke was one of the first members of the Chicago Sky, or because she scored the first ever basket in a Sky home game that made her a fan favorite. It was Brookes work ethic, bright smile and charismatic personality that really won over the Sky fans.
Brooke! exclaimed Stella Black, a season ticket holder at a season ticket holder event in December. Of course I remember her. I followed her when she was in college and when I heard she was coming to the Sky I was glad to have a veteran like her on the team. She was so great.
Wyckoffs veteran experience was just what coach Dave Cowens needed for his new team. Brooke also worked with Cowens on whatever he needed, offering him assistance for anything from scouting to providing some needed familiarity with the league and even showing people around the city. That was just the kind of player she was.
The fans in Chicago were so great, said Brooke. Being a part of the city, living in Chicago and being a part of a new sports team in Chicago was an experience that was like nothing else. The sports culture in Chicago is so great with so much tradition and to be a part of that was amazing.
In her career with the Sky, Brooke averaged 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, however, she was hampered by injury since she joined the Sky and left in 2009.
I tore my ACL at the end of the Chicago Sky season in 2009, she said. So that was when I decided to stop playing altogether. So I played up until the point that I physically could not play anymore.
Wyckoff served as an assistant girls basketball coach at Lakota East High School in Cincinnati, Ohio for two years after she retired from the WNBA. In June, 2011 Florida State came knocking.
It turned out that one of the assistant coaches took the head coaching job at UCLA and they had an opening, said Brooke They were interviewing and Sue (Sue Semrau, FSUs head coach) asked me if I was interested in taking the position and we talked about it and I decided to take the position. It was a great opportunity to come back to my alma mater and coach with the coach I played for.
"Brooke has been associated with every aspect of women's basketball," said Semrau. "As a player she excelled at every level from college to USA Basketball to the WNBA. As a coach, she has proven to be a strong teacher and has a passion for the defensive end of the floor. Brooke Wyckoff is a rising star in the coaching world."
Brooke now lives in Florida full time and is in the middle of her second season with the Seminoles. When asked if she had any plans in the future, Brooke said, Right now I am open. I am enjoying where I am right now and learning a lot and getting my bearings in the coaching world, especially in the college-coaching world. So I am open to whatever opportunity that will come along and I dont want to put any limits on what I want to do and dont want to do because when I try and do that it never works. Well see what happens, I definitely have a lot to learn and a lot of experience to gain. However, right now I am having so much fun!