Two-time WNBA All-Star joins UWM women's basketball staff
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- UW-Milwaukee women's basketball has made a few staff changes this offseason, adding someone with plenty of professional basketball experience.
"I left (Wisconsin) when I was 18 and I didn't come back until I was 39," said Anna DeForge, newest women's basketball assistant at UWM.
The Niagara, Wisconsin native left to play college basketball at Nebraska in 1994 and then following her collegiate career, embarked on a 17-year professional career that took her to the WNBA and overseas.
"After Nebraska it was Detroit, then Phoenix, Indiana, Minnesota. Then in Europe it was Poland, Spain, Turkey, Czech Republic, back to Turkey, then Riga Latvia was my last stop in 2015," said DeForge.
During her time as a pro, DeForge was named a WNBA All-Star twice with the Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever. She was also named to the Wisconsin Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
After returning to Wisconsin seven years ago, DeForge has been helping young players, coaching in AAU and with her own skills development business, Anna DeForge Basketball. Her attention to detail and playing experience caught UWM head coach Kyle Rechlicz's attention.
"Bringing in Coach Anna was an easy choice for me," said Rechlicz, who enters her 11th season with the Panthers. "She's played at such a high level against such high-level athletes, just walking in the door our team has this immediate level of respect for her."
"She's a great player development coach. She's working out with all of our bigger guards, people that we really need to take a big step in their game if we want to win a championship," added Rechlicz. "And the neat thing about it, she's not having to ask them to do workouts. They're consistently asking her to do workouts. They want to be in the gym with her, they want to learn, they want to grow."
"That's the part I'm really passionate about. Investing in these women. Investing in their future. Investing in them on the court as basketball players and off the court as well," said DeForge. "So it's my job to make them the best basketball player they can possibly be and help this team win."
The self-described passionate and intense coach has spent the first weeks on the job adjusting to practice, going on the recruiting trail, and getting used to having a real office.
"When you're a professional athlete your whole life, you don't really have an office, your office is the locker room," said DeForge, with a smile. "Kinda a surreal moment because this is my first legit office."
The rest of the Panthers staff welcomed her accordingly.
"We said we should create a sign like a 1st grader has 'first day of school'. We should have 'first day of actual work,' laughed Rechlicz.
DeForge described the experience she's gained on her journey as invaluable and is happy to now have the Panthers as the next chapter.
"Everything is just kinda built upon itself, and now I'm honored and excited to be here a part of this strong Panther tradition here and a part of the staff," says DeForge.