Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: C(hristopher) J(ohn) Koch Biography - C.J. Koch comments: to Sir (Alfred Charles) Bernard Lovell (1913– ) Biography » Rebecca Lobo: 1973—: Basketball Player Biography - Balanced Academics And Athletics, Became Standout Player At Connecticut, Popularity Helped Wnba

Rebecca Lobo: 1973—: Basketball Player - Became Standout Player At Connecticut

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As an academically and athletically gifted student, the six-foot, four-inch Lobo was recruited by one-hundred different colleges. She chose to enter the University of Connecticut because it was fairly close to home and the program encouraged athletes to take their academic work seriously. Her first two seasons with the Huskies women's basketball team were tension-filled, however, as Lobo adjusted to the coaching style of Geno Auri-emma. At one point in her sophomore season, Auri-emma and Lobo actually stopped speaking to one another outside of practice. After a series of heart-to-heart talks, the two managed to work out their differences. Lobo had not realized that Coach Auriemma's criticism of her playing was a sign that he believed that she was not reaching her full potential as an all-around player.

Lobo also faced the emotional stress of witnessing her mother go through extensive treatments for breast cancer beginning in 1993. Against her doctors' advice, RuthAnn Lobo continued to attend many of her daughter's games, viewing her participation as a form of therapy. Her mother's resilience helped Lobo and the Huskies to a 30-3 record in the 1993-1994 season, although they did not make it past the quarterfinal round of that year's NCAA championships. Despite the disappointment, the team's effort created an unprecedented wave of interest in women's sports at the university. The team also gained national attention via its exposure on the ESPN network, which was headquartered not far from the University of Connecticut's main campus.

In her senior year at Connecticut, the coaching and teamwork all came together to produce a rare perfect season. The Huskies went undefeated in twenty-eight regular season games and in its NCAA final against the University of Tennessee pulled out a 70-65 victory. It was only the ninth time that a major college basketball team had gone undefeated for an entire season. Lobo and the Huskies were once again heavily featured on ESPN, and Lobo received an ESPY Award from the network as 1995's Outstanding Female Athlete. Lobo also was named Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, Women's Basketball Player of the Year by the NCAA, and Woman of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation in 1995.

As she had in high school, Lobo managed to find a balance between sports and the classroom as she completed her B.A. in political science with a B-plus average. "It's all a matter of attitude," she told Scholastic Coach in an October 1995 interview, "Athletes who take to the classroom naturally or are encouraged to focus on grades should be able to do well in the classroom. I believe the reason you go to college is to get your degree. It's not a minor league or an audition for the pros. The women are obviously aware of that because there is no pro league." A little more than a year later, however, Lobo's long-ago dream of playing in a professional basketball league would come true.

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