Phoenix Mercury Assistant General Manager Monica Wright

No. 2 overall pick, two-time WNBA champion, secretary-treasurer for the WNBA Players Association, collegiate assistant coach, NBA executive – Monica Wright Rogers brings a stacked resume into her new role as assistant general manager for the Phoenix Mercury. Wright Rogers, who spent seven seasons in the league with the Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm, is part of the growing rank of former players who have recently landed leadership roles in the front offices of WNBA teams.

Wright Rogers always knew she wanted to stay in basketball after her playing days but was not sure in what capacity.

While playing, Wright Rogers spent time on the Players Association Board as the secretary-treasurer, where she got her first real look into front office and league operations and was able to learn from Terri Jackson, currently executive director of the WNBPA.

Following her retirement in 2016, she served as the women’s basketball director of student-athlete development at the University of the Incarnate Word before moving into coaching – serving as an assistant coach at Liberty University from 2018 to 2019 and at her alma mater, the University of Virginia, from 2019 to 2021.

After getting a feel for both the coaching and the sports business sides of the game, Wright Rogers was sure that sports business was where she wanted to be.

In May of 2021, she joined the NBA league office as the Elite Basketball Women’s Operations Lead, overseeing global grassroots initiatives, including building the elite international women’s roster for the Basketball Without Borders camps.

Wright Rogers thrived in her role and her grassroots work with the league has been essential in the trajectory of women’s youth basketball to the WNBA, EuroLeague and other professional leagues across the world.

Yet, she still felt a pull back to the team side, back to the WNBA. Phoenix came a-calling.

Phoenix Mercury Assistant General Manager Monica Wright

“Once I was on the league side, it was then a matter of, okay, how does the team side operate,” said Wright Rogers. “The more I learned from people, I knew it was something that in my heart of hearts that I wanted to do. And being on the W side, obviously being a former W player, I’m living my dream. Being able to impact these women that are playing the game that they love, who are doing what they need to do for their families, who are choosing to be role models, it’s an absolute honor to serve them and be in their front office.”

In her role as assistant general manager for the Mercury, Wright Rogers serves as a key connector between the front office, players, coaches and business operations staff, assisting with salary cap management, as well as overseeing operations and administration for the team at the practice facility and assisting with both collegiate and professional player evaluation and scouting.

“We have a great staff that was already intact,” says Wright Rogers. “But I’m happy to step in and be that glue player for any of the initiatives that can make this a smoother-run mechanism.”

She has embraced being part of the Mercury business operations team’s weekly leadership meeting, getting to know the staff and serving as a bridge between basketball and business.

“It helps me too just putting those names with faces. The people are the magic, so whenever players are pulled to the side to do an event or they need to request tickets, it’s just a matter of plugging in the right person to the right task. This is a small but mighty team and I think that’s awesome because it just shows that this group is very passionate about the Mercury, and the players need to know that. I’m hoping that I can continue to push and help them understand that they have a committed group behind them.”

In addition to being a vital connector between the basketball and business sides of the organization, Wright Rogers’ experience as a player and her championship pedigree make her an invaluable asset to the players and coaching staff of the three-time WNBA Champion Mercury.

“Having won championships in the playoffs against the Mercury, I know first-hand that this is a team that operates like a championship team every year, no matter if they’re up or down based on what outside opinions are. I think as a former player that has won championships, that’s what you want to bring every day into your approach. I am interacting with players and the coaching staff, so knowing what to say and what that championship culture looks, feels and sounds like, and being able to consistently bring that into the day-to-day is key. Obviously, we have new players coming in, being able to make sure that they understand what everyone has sacrificed and worked for and what has been built here, I think that’s important.”

After spending seven seasons in the league experiencing the ups and downs of a WNBA season, Wright Rogers brings a key player perspective to the day-to-day operations of the Mercury.

Phoenix Mercury Assistant General Manager Monica Wright

“As a former player, I speak to both sides. I can see from a player’s perspective how they might feel or when they might need to be pulled aside or maybe something that might have been missed by a non-playing front office staff, helping them to understand that player perspective. It’s kind of hard to put into words because it’s a lot of intangible things, a lot of it is a feel. Throughout the course of the season, you have to understand you have really high highs and really low lows and knowing how to navigate that and how we keep everyone ticking with that short, tight season with so many games, how do we keep everyone going. Obviously, the staff is going to do what they do, but what are those missing holes that need to be filled throughout the course of the season? I’m just hoping I can use my experience and knowledge and toolkit to make sure that happens.”

Wright Rogers considers it her responsibility to guide and support the players, not only as WNBA athletes, but in whatever they want to do after their playing careers are over – whether that be in basketball or not.

“I think that post-playing career navigating is a lot for former players, especially W players because you played at such a high level and you are a professional. So, trying to shift – it’s like a regular person shifting in their professional career – it’s not easy. I’m always going to put a focus on those players that are transitioning and I’m here for whatever they need and obviously can be a role model in that light as well.”

Former WNBA players often receive opportunities to coach – currently, the league has 19 former players in coaching positions. However, it is only recently that these women – women who were responsible for making the WNBA what it is today – have gotten opportunities in the front offices of teams. Monica Wright Rogers is proud to be one of six – and undoubtedly more to come – former players taking on a leadership role in the front office of a WNBA team.

The Phoenix Mercury is fortunate to have her, and she feels fortunate to have the opportunity here in Phoenix to help grow the game and build on the team’s championship culture.

“I really like the culture, the community around the Mercury and Suns. I appreciate that our fans really respect the women’s game, and you can tell that the community does as well. This is the work that’s already been done by the franchise in the community and the reputation that they’ve already built for themselves, so I really just hope to be a supplement to that.”