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Rebecca Lobo: 1973—: Basketball Player - Balanced Academics And Athletics

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Born in Hartford, Connecticut, on October 6, 1973, Rebecca Rose Lobo was the youngest of Dennis and RuthAnn (McLaughlin) Lobo's three children. Dennis Lobo's heritage was half Cuban and half Polish, and RuthAnn Lobo came from a family of German and Irish stock. Son Jason and daughter Rachel were avid athletes as they grew up, and their younger sister often joined her siblings in games of basketball, soccer, softball, and football as they grew up in Southwick, Massachusetts. At Jason Lobo's urging, the Lobos put up a basketball hoop at the family home, and shooting hoops became Rebecca Lobo's favorite pastime. "Sometimes I played because I wanted to get out of a bad mood, sometimes because I was worried about an upcoming test. Sometimes basketball was just a great way to forget myself," she wrote in her 1996 memoir The Home Team, "When I stepped out into the driveway, I was no longer Rebecca Lobo. I was Larry Bird or I was Dr. J."

In addition to practicing her skills on a co-ed team at the Southwick Community Center, Lobo attended summer basketball camps beginning in fifth grade. She was also helped by her father, who coached basketball in the Granby, Connecticut school system, where both he and his wife worked as teachers. Her parents' career meant that Lobo was expected to take school seriously, and she almost always lived up to those expectations. "From the time I was a kid, they emphasized how important school work was," Lobo recalled in a 1998 interview with NEA Today, "It had to get done before everything else. I played on a team when I was in fourth grade, and I remember the teacher calling home because my grades had slipped. The first thing my Mom said was, 'If your grades don't improve, basketball is the first thing to go.'" Finishing her senior year at South-wick Tolland Regional High School in 1991 near the top of her class, Lobo graduated as the class salutatorian.

At a Glance . . .

Born Rebecca Rose Lobo on October 6, 1973, in Hartford, CT; daughter of RuthAnn and Dennis Lobo. Education: University of Connecticut, BA, political science, 1995. Religion: Roman Catholic

Career: Professional basketball player. New York Liberty, forward, 1995-02; Houston Comets, 2002–.

Awards: Female Athlete of the Year, Associated Press, 1995; NCAA Women's Basketball Player of the Year, 1995; Woman of the Year, Women's Sports Foundation, 1995; ESPY Award, Outstanding Female Athlete, 1995; Atlanta Summer Olympic Games Gold Medal, women's basketball (with U.S. team), 1996.

Addresses: Basketball team—Houston Comets, Two Greenway Plaza, Houston, TX 77046. Basketball association—USA Basketball, 5465 Mark Dablind Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80918.

Although a career as a professional athlete seemed to be an unrealistic goal for a girl growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, Lobo's parents always encouraged her not to set aside her dream of someday playing professional basketball. When she was in the third grade, Lobo wrote a letter to the general manager of the Boston Celtics to inform him that she would be the first woman to play for the team. During her adolescence, Lobo had a run-in with her fourth-grade teacher, who told her to stop playing with the boys in her class at recess and to start wearing dresses and acting more feminine. The teacher's attitude infuriated the Lobos, who let their daughter know that the teacher was wrong in her attitude. The incident was a defining moment for Lobo. As she later wrote in The Home Team, "There's nothing masculine about being competitive. There's nothing masculine about trying to be the best at everything you do, nor is there anything wrong with it. I don't know why a female athlete has to defend her femininity just because she chooses to play sports."

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