In honor of the 25th anniversary of the three-time WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury franchise, PhoenixMercury.com is reminiscing with those who have made this team a success over the past quarter century.
Sandy Brondello has been the head coach of the Mercury since 2014, a season during which Phoenix claimed its third title and Brondello was named WNBA Coach of the Year. Brondello has led the Mercury to the playoffs in each of her seven seasons with the team, including a record-setting 29-5 record in 2014.
THE PHOENIX MERCURY FRANCHISE WAS FOUNDED IN 1997, WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE LIFE OF SANDY BRONDELLO IN 1997?
Brondello: “Playing basketball all over the world. I was playing in Germany BTV Wuppertal. I didn’t play in Australia because I was injured. I was rehabbing. But Michelle Timms, obviously she was the franchise player for the Phoenix Mercury, and we played together in Wuppertal and with the Opals. My husband, and boyfriend at the time, we actually went and visited her in Phoenix when she was playing in that league in 1997. I was just blown away. It was just amazing to see all the support and fans they had.”
IN 2014, WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO COACH THE PHOENIX MERCURY?
“I wanted to be a head coach. I thought this was a really, really great organization and the team had some really talented players. I think every young coach wants to be the head coach. So, I’m very grateful for the opportunity. It was great to come in with a really special team and to win that championship in 2014.”
WHEN YOU LOOK BACK BEFORE YOU GOT HERE AND THEN THROUGHOUT YOUR TENURE AS HEAD COACH, JUST WHAT DOES THE PHOENIX MERCURY FRANCHISE MEAN TO YOU?
“It means everything, quite honestly. I’m very thankful for Jim Pitman for giving me the opportunity to lead this great organization. I’ve had such great support from them. And look, it’s home. I’m in Australia at the moment — and yeah, that’s home — but I feel at home in Phoenix. We’ve had some really successful years, and years that we didn’t achieve our goals, but I love the challenge and I love that women’s basketball is greatly supported in Phoenix.”
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE MEMORY IN PHOENIX?
“That’s easy. Anytime you win a championship, that’s the most special. In 2014, that was really special. Just to go on a 29-5 season was pretty amazing. But it just came down to the players just being really selfless. Obviously great players and all they cared about was winning.”
HOW MUCH PRIDE TO YOU TAKE IN BEING THE HEAD COACH OF THE THREE-TIME WNBA CHAMPION PHOENIX MERCURY?
“A lot. It means a lot. There are only 12 head coaches in the WNBA and I’m one of them. I’m very honored to have that opportunity to lead a professional team in the best league in the world. A lot of pride and especially being in Phoenix where this is one of the original teams. They’ve had great success. Obviously, it’s an NBA-owned team as well, but we’re very well-supported from our brothers and from the men’s side.”