BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Virginia Commonwealth University Head Women's Basketball Coach Beth Cunningham will be inducted into the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame in her hometown of Bloomington, Ind., on Friday evening.
Cunningham, who is VCU's all-time winningest coach with 148 career victories, is part of an inaugural class of 15 inductees, including seven U.S. Olympians.
"When you think of all the quality athletes and coaches who have come through Monroe County, it's quite an honor that someone thinks highly enough of me to include me in the inaugural class," said Cunningham. "Playing sports was such a big part of my life and had so much influence on me when I was growing up. When something like this happens, years later, and you realize that maybe somewhere along the line you've done something to cause those people to remember you, it's just a very, very nice feeling."
She is a legend of sorts in her hometown having finished her high school basketball career at Bloomington South as the school's all-time leading scorer while also garnering all-state honors in both basketball and tennis.
Cunningham went on to enjoy a standout career at Notre Dame and was instrumental in the Irish's rise to their current status as one of the nation's elite programs. She averaged better than 18 points per game during her four seasons, earned four All-America honors, and still holds the school's career scoring record (2,322 points). Cunningham was part of three NCAA Tournament squads including the program's first-ever Final Four in 1997.
Cunningham's success on the basketball court allowed her to gain a wealth of international playing experience as a member of several United States national teams, including the 1997 U.S. squad that captured the gold medal at the World University Games and the 1999 team that won a bronze in the Pan American Games. She helped Team USA to a second-place finish at the 1997 World Championship qualifying tournament in Brazil, which earned the U.S. a spot in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Cunningham is currently serving a four-year term on the USA Basketball Committee as an Athlete Representative for the Junior National Team.
Following her days at Notre Dame, Cunningham played professionally with the ABL's Philadelphia Rage (1997-98) and WNBA's Washington Mystics (2000). After her final season in Washington she joined the coaching ranks as an assistant at VCU in 2001. Cunningham was then promoted to Associate Head Coach in 2002 before assuming head coaching duties in 2003. Her squads have made four-straight postseason appearances including the school's first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2009.
The sold-out ceremony is set to take place Friday evening at the Bloomington Convention Center.
THE CUNNINGHAM FILE:
Virginia Commonwealth University, M.S., 2003
University of Notre Dame, B.S., 1997
Bloomington South High School, 1993
2003-present: VCU, Head Coach
2002-03 VCU: Associate Head Coach
2001-02 VCU: Assistant Coach
2000: WNBA, Washington Mystics
1997-2000: Team USA
1997-98: ABL, Philadelphia Rage
1993-97: University of Notre Dame
1999: Bronze Medal recipient, Pan American Games
1997: Gold Medal recipient, World University Games; All-time leading scorer at Notre Dame (2,322 points)
1996, 1997: Kodak All-American, Honorable Mention
1996, 1997: Associated Press All-American, Honorable Mention
1996, 1997: All-Big East First Team; Notre Dame Team Captain
1994, 1995: All-Midwestern Collegiate First Team
COACHING CAREER AT VCU (2003-PRESENT)
- Served as an assistant (2001-02) and as associate head coach (2002-03) before assuming head coaching duties in 2003-04.
- VCU's all-time winningest coach with 148 career victories
- Has guided the Rams to four-straight postseason appearances, including the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament with an at-large selection in 2009
- Averaged 23 wins per year since 2007 with three straight 20-win campaigns from 2007-10 (most successful four-year run in school history)
- Led VCU to back-to-back 26-win seasons (both school records) including an undefeated campaign at home in 2008-09
- Has coached seven professional players, including a pair of WNBA draft picks in 2008 and 2009
- Two of her players have earned All-America honors, most recently Courtney Hurt (a Naismith Trophy candidate, which is awarded annually to the nation's best women's basketball player) who led the NCAA in rebounding and double-doubles, and ranked second in the nation in scoring in 2010-11
- Since joining VCU as an assistant, Cunningham has coached two CAA Players of the Year, two CAA Defensive Players of the Year, one CAA Rookie of the Year, two All-Americans, 18 All-CAA performers, 16 CAA All-Academic honorees, six CAA All-Defensive Team selections and three CAA All-Rookie selections
USA BASKETBALL CAREER
- Has a wealth of international playing experience as a member of several United States national teams, including the 1997 U.S. squad that captured the gold medal at the World University Games and the 1999 team that won a bronze in the Pan American Games
- Helped Team USA to a second-place finish at the 1997 World Championship qualifying tournament in Brazil, which earned the U.S. a spot in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
- Is currently serving a four-year term on the USA Basketball Committee as an Athlete Representative for the Junior National Team… previously served on the Women's Collegiate Committee as an athlete representative from 2005-08
COLLEGIATE CAREER AT NOTRE DAME (1993-1997)
- Enjoyed a stellar four-year career at Notre Dame and was instrumental in the Irish's rise to their current status as one of the nation's elite programs.
- Averaged better than 18 points per game during her four seasons, finishing her career as the school's all-time leading scorer (2,322 points)… Also earned four All-America honors
- Was part of three NCAA Tournament squads, including the program's first-ever NCAA Final Four appearance during a 31-win, 1997 campaign… Used a 36-point performance to help lead the Irish to a Sweet Sixteen victory over Alabama, an NCAA East Regional single-game record
HIGH SCHOOL CAREER AT BLOOMINGTON SOUTH
- Holds the school's all-time scoring record
- All-State performer in basketball and tennis