September S’Hero | Nancy Lieberman

RICHMOND, VA (September 19, 2017) – The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) today announced Nancy Lieberman as the September S’Hero of the Month award recipient for individual and community leadership. As part of the Amazing Young WomenTM movement, the ECNL is sharing the stories of S’Heroes who are role models for our nation’s young female athletes who are balancing their drive to become elite athletes with the pressures of fitting in with social peers

S’Hero – Nancy Lieberman

Nancy Lieberman grew up a hard-nosed basketball player in Harlem, New York and through setting goals and a relentless work ethic, she became one of the best women’s basketball players of all time. Her passion for the game of basketball shaped her into the person that she is today. Lieberman’s confidence, self-esteem and positive decision making skills not only led to a success path, but inspired her to give back and share her experiences with others. Her list of accomplishments span several decades, and across multiple platforms, making her truly unique. Lieberman is a trailblazer and pioneer for women in sport, and prides herself on paying it forward because the support system she had growing up made her success possible.

“I love being a role model, philanthropist, coach and at the top of the list, I love being a mother. I pride myself on being a giver,” Lieberman said about giving back to the community and the game of basketball. “I am constantly trying to mentor and help people to the best of my ability, because it worked for me. Quite frankly, anyone who has ever been great, has had help along the way.”

Lieberman is also known as “Lady Magic” for her amazing basketball career in which Team USA took home the silver medal in the 1976 Summer Olympics and made her the youngest basketball player in Olympic history to medal, at just 18 years of age.  Lieberman went on to be a three-time All-American, two-time NCAA National Champion and two-time National Player of the Year, playing collegiately for Old Dominion University.

In addition to her playing career, Lieberman has left her mark on the game as a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) coach and general manager when she led the WNBA’s Detroit Shock to the highest winning percentage of any expansion team in professional sports. This earned her runner-up for WNBA Coach of the Year.

Adding to her stellar coaching career, Lieberman also became the first female coach on staff with the National Basketball Association (NBA). She served as the Head Coach for the Texas Legends, NBA D-League from 2009 to 2011. Lieberman became the second woman, behind Becky Hammon, in history to join the coaching staff of an NBA team, hired as a full-time Assistant Coach with the Sacramento Kings in 2015.

Her countless successes led to her induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996, and now the Basketball Hall of Fame awards the Nancy Lieberman Award which honors the best collegiate point guard in women’s Division I basketball.  Over the past 37 years, one of her biggest priorities has been giving back to the game at the grassroots level, hosting basketball camps for youth in Dallas, Texas.

When she graduated from college, she was drafted into the first women’s professional league, but it folded after just one year. Left without a platform to play in as a career, she played against men to stay at the top of her game, hopeful that the professional league would come back to the women’s game. In 1986 and 1987, she played in the United States Basketball League (USBL), a men’s professional league, and to this day is recognized as the only woman to have played in this environment.

“I was tremendously average in height, weight, jumping ability and athleticism. The guys were better, bigger and stronger in those area, but there was no measurement for my heart, IQ and desire.” Lieberman recalled about her time playing professionally in the USBL. “It did not matter if I was white or black, or a man or woman. I wanted and needed to play, and the USBL provided the environment. I am so grateful for the opportunity they provided to me.”

Throughout her career on the court Lieberman earned both respect and support from men in the game, and met the same response when she joined the NBA on the coaching side of the game. The General Manager of the Dallas Mavericks and owner of the Texas Legends, Donnie Nelson, was the trailblazer that led Lieberman to her current coaching role. It led to a ripple effect of positive support from fellow NBA coaches such as Eric Musselman, Darvin Ham, Chris Finch, Brian Yates and Nick Nurse. All of whom reached out welcomed her as a tremendous addition to the NBA coaching family.

“I do not view myself as having obstacles. In my opinion, if you have obstacles, you are starting in a negative place. I respect everybody, and fear nobody. This is my mantra, and was woven into my psyche at a young age by my friend, hero and mentor, Muhammad Ali.” Lieberman said about her outlook on facing adversity in life.

Everyone who has supported, mentored and championed Lieberman along her journey has played a key role in her drive to give back. For over 20 years, she raised an average of $100,000 annually to go directly to families in underprivileged communities which included paying ‘life bills’ for families in need, giving shoes to kids, providing food to families and transporting youth to camps, placing them in a healthy environment to learn valuable life lessons around sport.

From her upbringing through all of the opportunities she has been given through the sport of basketball, she has taken her experiences to another level by creating Nancy Lieberman Charities (NLC). Lieberman founded NLC as a 501(c)-3 non-profit organization in 2009, and continued to make an extreme impact within the community. The charity awards college scholarships and provides laptops and back to school backpacks to those in need. NLC comes full circle with academic and sport opportunities at the forefront, using both as a vessel to make a positive impact in communities that need it the most.

In addition to the above, NLC is involved with Dream Courts, helping build basketball courts across the nation. Dream Courts aims to make basketball more accessible to kids as well as provide a place for children to have safe area to play basketball, interact with their friends and learn life lessons. Along with building additional infrastructure within communities, NLC helps cultivate and strengthen relationships with local law enforcement to add a layer of safety and awareness. An added touch to ensure the positive impact extends further than the court.

Lieberman credits her philanthropic efforts to her personal experiences and passion to give back. As a direct result, NLC has awarded a total of 34 college scholarships, 10,000 backpacks, over 1,500 computers and iPads, and have assisted with building 39 total Dream Courts across the country in a six-year span.

Beyond the numbers, Lieberman values the interaction with youth both on and off the court, making her presence at camps a priority. She wakes up every day with a purpose to inspire and help other, using her life experiences as fuel to drive others to reach for the stars.  Her desire to give back with the pursuit to be the best version of herself has earned Nancy Lieberman the ECNL S’Hero of the Month recognition. Good luck to Lieberman as she continues her mission to break the glass ceiling and influence other Amazing Young Women along the way.


About Amazing Young WomenTM: The Amazing Young Women campaign is a dynamic platform of online and local market activations that showcase and celebrate female role models offering an aspirational focus for all female athletes and teens as they prepare to be our next generation of leaders. The ECNL is calling on all of the nation’s women to join the movement to celebrate the endless potential of today’s girls.

Women of all ages can share their personal moments of inspiration through elevated stories and social media. Every share and submission helps drive a movement that celebrates the power of what it is to be a girl today.

S’Heroes are a part of the Amazing Young WomenTM campaign designed to showcase strong, successful women who embody the fact that drive on the soccer field translates into life lessons. The ECNL is calling on all who love sports to join them in supporting youth female athletes as they recognize their own potential, define their individual paths to success, and prepare to be our next generation of leaders.

Studies have shown that driving factors behind girls dropping out of sports include limited exposure to the inspirational journeys trail blazed by positive role models, and social stigma; where player traits that are so valued by teams are often not promoted for young girls. By age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys1. The Amazing Young Women campaign encourages young female athletes to embrace their competitive nature, and prove they cannot be shaken from the path to their dreams. Those recognized as S’Heroes have taken a spirit of leadership and inspiration from the field, and have demonstrated that it’s not just about a phase of your life, but a way of life.

About Elite Clubs National League:  The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) was founded in 2009 to enhance the developmental experience of female youth soccer players in the United States through: (i) improving the competitive environment through creation of a true national competitive league; (ii) improving the process for identifying elite female soccer players through a systematic scouting and identification program based on national competitions; and (iii) improving the daily training environment at top female youth soccer clubs through developing best practices and training and organizational guidelines for its member clubs. The ECNL is sanctioned by US Club Soccer and is sponsored by Nike Soccer. | Facebook: /theECNL | Twitter: @theECNL

For media enquiries:
Blaze Byrd

  1. Girls drop-out at different rates depending on where they live. Sabo, D. and Veliz, P. (2008). Go Out and Play: Youth Sports in America. East Meadow, NY: Women’s Sports Foundation.