Marynell Meadors, one of the league’s eight original coaches, was introduced as Atlanta’s first coach and general manager on Wednesday.
Meadors, a native of Nashville, Tenn., called herself a "hillbilly at heart" and said she is happy to be returning to the South.
The 64-year-old Meadors has worked with three other WNBA franchises as a coach, general manager and scout after 30 years as a college coach. Her experience impressed Ron Terwilliger, who was named last month as the owner of the Atlanta franchise.
"We wanted somebody who is familiar with the WNBA, who knew the players, who knew how the league operated and also knew the talent coming out of the college ranks," Terwilliger said.
In her interview with Terwilliger, Meadors presented detailed plans for Atlanta in the expansion draft and college draft before the 2008 season.
"When she came to talk with us, she had a list of all the players who currently play in the WNBA, which she thought would be protected, which ones she thought we would be interested in who weren’t protected and she showed us the list of college players she’s interested in," Terwilliger said. "She’s very well prepared to build a team very quickly."
Said Meadors: "I wouldn’t give them the list until they hired me."
Meadors spent the past three years as an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics. She has spent most of her career as a head coach, including a combined 30 years at Tennessee Tech and Florida State.
One of Meadors’ graduate assistants at Tennessee Tech was Andy Landers, the longtime coach at Georgia.
Meadors was named the first coach and GM for the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting in 1997. She also was director of scouting for the WNBA’s Miami Sol in 1999.
Both of those franchises eventually failed, and Atlanta enters the league as the only team in the region.
"This is it," Meadors said.
She listed ownership and the size of the city as reasons Atlanta can succeed when other teams in the South have failed.
"It’s all about ownership," Meadors said. "I think an ownership change in Charlotte had something to do with the team folding, but I love Charlotte.
"I think Atlanta has so much more media outlets. Charlotte was great and they did a great job with the franchise there, but Atlanta just has so many more opportunities. I think Atlanta is going to be a city players want to come to. They like big cities. They like being in downtown and the excitement of the city."
Meadors promised she and her players would be active in the city as they seek to build support for the team.
"You all are going to get tired of looking at me because I’m going to be everywhere trying to talk to people and get people to come to the games," she said.
The WNBA schedule runs from May through August. Meadors said Atlanta can expect to have the choice of the seventh or eighth players on team’s rosters in the expansion draft but can compete quickly by signing unrestricted free agents.
"It’s a matter of recruitment now," Meadors said. "We’ve got to go out and recruit some of these unrestricted free agents, but we can’t talk to them until the (collective bargaining agreement) is signed."
Terwilliger said he hopes Atlanta can win "very quickly."
"I’m like Ron," Meadors said. "I want to win right away. I do not like to lose. I do not like to lose and I want to be a winner in our first year."