Tangela Smith with her Wnba Trophey


Growing Up:

Tangela Smith is one of the Assistant Coaches employed at Western Michigan University, whom I’ve had the pleasure of playing for these past 3 years. Originally I believed this interview would be kind of akward because we have such a close relationship, but getting to know her on a more personal level turned out to be an exciting experience. My first question was “can you give details of your life as a child?” She talked about how she grew up on the south side of Chicago where it was rough living. She said, “ It never felt rough because of the effort from my mom. She raised my two sisters and I with the help of my step father. She always made us feel loved and cared for. I was always surrounded by a loving family, although we did not have much we never wanted for anything” (Tangela Smith). You never know what people have been through when they become successful, most would think life was always perfect for them. To have such an amazing and strong mom take care of the family, while trying to make up for the absence of her dad.


I was suprised when I asked Coach Tan when did she start playing basketball and she said 7th grade. She thought she was going to be a model because she was long and skinny and thats what everyone told her she should be. One day her coach saw her walking down the hallway and asked her to try out for the basketball team. She was standing at 6'1 as a 7th grader and thats why the coached noticed her. After trying out for the basketball team she instantly fell in love with the game of basketball. She stated “ Starting off I was very awkward and uncoordinated it wasn’t until high school where I began to flourish.”(Tangela Smith)


Tangela Smith played on varsity all four years of her High School career and had over 200 colleges recruiting her. She had some of the top colleges in the world recruiting her, such as Tennesse, Iowa, Uconn and some other Big 10 schools. She talked about how overwhelming the recruiting process was and how new it was to her and her family, but her coach helped them along the way. She also mentioned how the support from her family made everything easier.


Tangela Smith decided to make Iowa her new home for her college career. Vivian Stringer who was the head coach at the time and the teammates welcomed Tangela and made her feel right at home. On the brightside of her leaving her amazing family it was only 3 hours away, not to far but just far enough. Tangela Smith said “It was hard to leave, but I could not pass up the opportunity to go to college for free while playing the sport that I love. I also had goals of playing professional basketball after college.” Her first year of college was rough and overwhelming. For her it was a rude awakening. She went from being the best player in high school to having all the girls on the team be just as good. Tangela was brought into Iowa with 6 other all americans all wanting the same dream.

Adjusting to Leaving the Nest:

Tangela had a rough time adjusting to college and all the conditioning and training that they were being put through. She mentioned “ The coaches were very hard on me, I realized now they were only being tough on me because they saw how much potential I had”. Freshman year she only played 10 to 20minutes. After the first year the adjustments were way easier and she started to find her way. The team began to find a groove, resulting in great accomplishments.

Accomplishments at Iowa:

Tangela Smith won the Big Ten Player of the Year award in 1998. She was also a 1998 Kodak/WBCA All-America honorable mention, she earned 1996 and 1998 All-Big Ten first team, and 1997 All-Big Ten honorable mention accolades. She also won the Big Ten championship in 1997. She was ranked first in school history for blocked shots with 235, seventh in scoring with 1,598 points and fourth in rebounding with 859 rebounds.

Tangel Smith and Teammates having fun :)


From the girl who thought she was going to be a professional model to a rising basketball star Tangela Smith was the 12th overall pick, selected to play for Sacramento Monarchs. She helped her team reach the playoffs five times. She was later traded to the Phoenix Mercury in 2007, and won two back to back WNBA championships. She is one of seven players in WNBA history to record 4,000 career points. She is also eighth in WNBA history with 1,856 rebounds. Tangela Smith ranks top 10 in WNBA history in six different categories which includes, points, rebounds, blocks, field goals made, minutes player and field goals attempted. In between playing for the WNBA Tangela Smith went overseas and played in Italy, Isreal, South Korea and Turkey. While overseas she accomplished the Turkish league crown, won the Korean league championship.

Western Michigan University

After 15 successful years in the WNBA, Smith wanted to give back and became assitant coach for the Western Michigan Womens basketball team. She said smiling “ I wanted to help young student athletes like Breanna Mobley reach their goals. I want to give back to them everything that I was taught through all my experiences.” She is currently an amazing role model that gives all the knowlege she has to make her team better. I personally am so thankful for the oppertunity to be coached and mentored by her. She motivates me to do better everyday. Coach Tan also has always believed in me and I appreciate her and love her to the fullest.

Tangela Smith and her two outstanding post players Breanna Mobley and Marley Hill



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