June 25, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Sasha Goodlett and history have always gone together.
In the classroom, she graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in History, while on the court the former Clinton High School star from Bolton, Miss., made plenty of it. She left school ranked 10th in program history with 1,364 career points, ninth with 760 rebounds and fifth with 127 blocked shots. She earned second-team All-ACC honors as a senior and was part of the winningest senior class in program history.
Following graduation, Goodlett continued to make history, becoming only the second Georgia Tech player to be drafted in the first round of the WNBA Draft (joining Alex Montgomery), when she was selected by the Indiana Fever with the 11th overall pick in 2012, and the fifth in Georgia Tech history to play in the women’s professional league (Kasha Terry, Chioma Nnamaka and Brigitte Ardossi also made it).
As a rookie, she made history, earning a ring with the champion Fever.
While it hasn’t been easy sledding, Goodlett continues to make strides in the League. She recently talked with Sting Daily following a game at Philips Arena. Amongst the topics of conversation were getting to play professionally domestically and internationally, getting instruction from Coach MaChelle Joseph’s mentor and Fever Head Coach Lin Dunn, and getting to meet President Barack Obama.
STING DAILY: What has it been like for you playing professionally at the highest level in the WNBA the past two years?
Sasha Goodlett: It’s been a somewhat rough experience but it’s something I have to work at, to try to get better every day. I just have to focus on getting better as a professional athlete and as a grown-up now. It’s not college anymore so I really have to learn how to step up. This is a blessing to be able to play in the WNBA, period. I have to be thankful for what I do have.
STING: How amazing was it to win a championship your first year?
GOODLETT: It was an amazing experience. I was already so grateful to be able to come in and do something that I love with so many great players. To win a championship my first year and to be the only rookie, it was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.
STING: What has been the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make to playing in the pros?
GOODLETT: Just paying attention to the details, focusing on the things that I need to get better at. Everything here is more detailed so it’s just paying attention to the little things — the little things that Coach Jo used to harp on all the time. She wasn’t harping on them for no reason. You have to really pay attention to the little, small details.
STING: How does it feel getting coached by Coach Dun, who was Coach Jo’s mentor?
GOODLETT: It’s kind of interesting because I see the similar coaching styles that Coach Jo took from Coach Dun, having to see how she is as a person and the difference. That’s the major thing about it. I knew coming in that Coach Dun was Coach Jo’s coach. So it was like, ‘Oh, this is a whole other challenge.’
STING: Following the WNBA season you played in China, France and South Korea. What was that experience like?
GOODLETT: It was just a lot of moving around, from here to there, from here to there. I really had to grow up and learn a lot of things really quickly and get thrown into different environments.
STING: Where was your favorite place to play?
GOODLETT: South Korea. Just the people, how nice they were, sight-seeing in the different cities within the country. It was good.
STING: How difficult was it for you not knowing the language?
GOODLETT: It was tough but it was good. It was good that I had a translator. I did learn some Korean, a little bit like what to say after practice and to coach and how to say hello and thank you. That was one of the main things. Everyone’s always saying thank you. So those were some of the few things I learned but I don’t think I’m going to be fluent in Korean any time soon.
STING: Did you learn any words that would get you thrown out of games?
GOODLETT: No. I didn’t have enough time. I only had a month (laughs).
STING: How was playing in France and China?
GOODLETT: France was just experience, being able to play with the Euroleague team. It was different just to see how different players play and learn from everything. That was the major thing from France. China was a full 180 when it comes to everything from culture to people to food. Everything was a huge adjustment.
STING: Who are the toughest players to play against in the WNBA?
GOODLETT: I always think the toughest players are on my team but of course [Chicago Sky and former LSU center] Sylvia Fowles would be one, me being a center. I’ve been watching her since she was in college and I was in high school then watching her in the WNBA. Whenever you come up against her you have to put your best foot forward. Another player I would probably say [Minnesota Lynx and former UConn forward] Maya Moore. She’s always moving, she’s always working hard, she’s looking for a way, she’s trying to find a way to get everyone fired up. Those are probably the two toughest players I’ve played against.
STING: You set quite a few jarring picks out there against the Dream. Has that always been a part of your game?
GOODLETT: Yeah, that was one thing I took pride in. That’s one thing I still take pride in. If I’m going to come in I’m going to set a good screen. I’m going to get my teammates open. Now I just have to learn how to read when I’m open, how to roll and finish.
STING: Did you have a chance to see any of your friends while in Atlanta?
GOODLETT: It was just too short of a stay. We got in [Monday] it was already night time. Then having a 12:00 start and we’re leaving right after this. So it was just too short. Hopefully next time I get here I’ll be able to speak to everybody.
STING: How was the experience of visiting the White House?
GOODLETT: It was a great experience. Meeting President Obama, just being in his presence, being in the White House. I was a History major. So all the history that was around, it was just amazing. Just going from room to room, from the red room to the green room to the blue room to the dining room. I wish they would have taken us upstairs but we were only there for about two or three hours. We did a clinic with some little kids at the White House but it was an amazing experience. It was history, I met the very first African-American President and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
STING: Talk about meeting the President.
GOODLETT: He was such a cool person. He walked in like he owned the room and he’s so charismatic, great with words. It was just a wonderful experience. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be able to go to the White House and meet President Obama.
STING: How special was it for his daughters to meet the Fever? Do you feel like you are role models for them?
GOODLETT: Definitely. He said that we were very inspiring for his daughters, just our character and being a professional women’s team. To get that much recognition is just inspiring to them. He coaches his daughter Sasha’s basketball team. So I’m sure that he really pays attention to women’s basketball. It would be really interesting to watch a game while he coaches. I’m sure he gets all the calls. (laughs)