Athenaeum honors native with award
By Carley Dangonacarley@thereminder.com
WESTFIELD The Westfield Athenaeum honored Rebecca Lobo-Rushin on Nov. 7 as the 2012 Edwin Smith Family Distinguished Speaker for her speaking about her college and professional basketball career.
Lobo-Rushin is a Southwick native best known for her time as a University of Connecticut (UConn) Husky. After a career in the WNBA, she became a reporter and analyst for ESPN so she could have time for her family. She also sits on the Board of Trustees for UConn.
Christopher Lindquist, director of the library, highlighted some of Lobo-Rushin's accolades, which include the 1995 MVP award for the NCAA Champion Huskies, an Olympic gold medal won in 1996, a career in the WNBA from 1997 to 2003 and induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
"We're very pleased to honor her, a native daughter of Western Massachusetts for her outstanding accomplishments both on and off the court," Lindquist said.
During an interview with Reminder Publications
, Lobo-Rushin explained the nostalgia of returning to the library. "I'm thrilled to be here. I have fond memories of spending time in the picture book area. [However] I'm not used to looking down on the books."
Lobo-Rushin spoke about the beginning of her basketball career and her life now, as a married mother of four.
"I was always ridiculously tall I was six feet tall in sixth grade [she now stands at 6'4"]," she said. "I was a tomboy and played basketball because I loved to play. My mom would tell me 'I could be anything I wanted to be.'"
She continued, highlighting some of the experiences she had because of her basketball career and subsequent accomplishments, which include many presidential meetings.
Lobo-Rushin stated that she had run with President Bill Clinton, attended Christmas at the White House with President George W. Bush and briefly met with President Barack Obama. She added that she's also flown on Air Force 1.
Lobo-Rushin talked about her children as she described her life now. "People always ask my kids if they're going to play basketball like their mom. Honestly, the fact that I played basketball with Big Bird is the only thing my kids care about," she said.
She continued, discussing how she met her husband, "Sports Illustrated" writer Steve Rushin. "We met in the traditional way, at a bar in New York City," Lobo-Rushin stated matter-of-factly. "I was playing for the New York Liberty then. I questioned him about him making fun of women's basketball [in an article]."
In 2003, Lobo-Rushing retired from basketball. "I didn't find it difficult at all to retire," she explained. "I've never once regretted it; I've never once looked back." She cited having a family as the reason for the ease of this transition.