Friday, June 18th, 2021

Devoted parents, impressive work ethic, and die-hard fans helped fuel the stellar career of Seimone Augustus

Published on May 20, 2021

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Watch Seimone Augustus talk about the impact of the late Sue Gunter on her career

After a stellar playing career, women’s basketball legend Seimone Augustus hung up her sneakers the day before the beginning of the 2021 WNBA season. The four-time WNBA Champion began an immediate transition into coaching by joining the staff of the Los Angeles Sparks.

“It’s an honor to continue to serve the game that has given me so much,” Augustus said in the initial announcement of her retiring. “I’m excited to join the Sparks staff and look forward to developing in this new role.”

She played one season for Los Angeles (2020) and spent the rest of her WNBA career as a franchise player for the Minnesota Lynx, where she was instrumental in helping the team win four championships.

During a virtual press conference with media on May 19, Augustus discussed her career, from her humble beginnings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to her college days and remarkable pro career.

Her initial thoughts about coaching came from prompts by others who noticed her innate ability to teach.

“At my best friend’s son’s birthday party, a young man was on a pogo stick and couldn’t figure out how to get on. So, I taught him how to adjust and do certain things, basically coaching him. After that, he started jumping around the yard. After that, my best friend came up to me and said, ‘When are you going to start coaching?’ You know how rare it is that young people listen, take your advice, and actually do it. You have a gift; tap into it.”

Her own introduction to the game came via her father, who sacrificed essentials for himself, even foregoing buying new shoes so he could support his daughter’s dreams. He went to work with shoes that were falling apart and filled them with newspapers Augustus recounted.

He also “figured out drills” to help her hone her skills and made makeshift training equipment in their yard.

“We didn’t have any money. He put out all these lawn chairs and built in all kinds of stuff out there.”

She also credited her mother for being a devoted parent and encouraging her aspirations. Overall, Augustus credits both her mother and father for being the number one reason why she’s been able to accomplish so much in her career.

“They were the examples. They were the sacrifice. They were everything to me when it came to this.”

When Augustus arrived at LSU as a freshman in 2002, her effect on the program was immediate. The athletic director at the time called her “the single most important recruit in the history of LSU Athletics.”

She scored 27 points in her first game, an overtime matchup at Arizona, and earned the National Freshman of the Year honor. Ticket sales skyrocketed for games at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. As new LSU head coach Kim Mulkey said recently, Augustus and her standout peers “had the PMAC rocking.”

During her first season, the team included several future WNBA players, including the 2005 Rookie of the Year Temeka Johnson. They reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, which ended in a loss to Texas. The program’s success continued during Augustus’ tenure, with consecutive Final Four appearances while surviving head coach and women’s basketball pioneer Sue Gunter’s retirement in 2004 and the sadness of her passing in 2005.

In 2010, Augustus became the first woman in LSU Athletics history to have her jersey retired. With her WNBA track record, fans should expect that at some point, her WNBA jersey will be retired and that down the road, she will join Gunter in the Hall of Fame.

Throughout her pro career, she kept the words of Gunter in mind: “no excuses, get it done.” That mantra was key in providing her with the motivation to work hard year after year, staying in tip-top shape and elevating her skills.

“She taught us how to have an amazing work ethic, no matter what,” Augustus said of Gunter. “So, I always appreciated that because people always speak about my work ethic.”

Die-hard fans of the game are familiar with Augustus’ legacy with the Lynx, with her arrival having a similar effect on the franchise to her freshman year of college. The team began the difficult journey of becoming a dynasty with a star-laden core that included fellow LSU alumna Sylvia Fowles for Minnesota’s last two titles.

As the Lynx racked up championships and winning sea, Augustus became an All-Star eight times, made the All-WNBA team six times, and won three Olympic gold medals with USA Basketball (2008, 2012, 2016).

However, with the start of the 2021 season, she began to feel the physical toll of the game on her body. As with many WNBA players, she also spent many offseasons playing overseas. The year-round basketball was brutal physically.

“My body was saying that it couldn’t go anymore, like the aches and pains, the discomfort that I was feeling, was a little bit too much to bear.”

Still, with the onset of a WNBA coaching journey, she remembers all those who supported her in the league, especially the fans in Minnesota. When asked about returning to the Target Center in Minneapolis as a coach and her feelings for the fans there, she became emotional, and tears started running down her face.

“I mean, Minnesota knows that they have a piece of my heart. I gave everything to them for 14 years. And I felt that in return. I can’t wait to get back to the Target Center.”


 

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