NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ashley McElhiney was introduced as the new coach of the expansion Nashville Rhythm of the American Basketball Association on Monday, becoming the first female head coach of a professional men's basketball team.
"This is an incredible opportunity for me on so many levels,"
the 22-year-old McElhiney said. "I'm thrilled to be a part of
building this team from the ground up."
A former standout guard for Vanderbilt, McElhiney was taken by the Indiana Fever in the third round of last year's WNBA Draft but
was released before playing a game.
"I've said from Day One that my goal was not only to put a
competitive team on the floor, but to give qualified females
opportunities they are not normally afforded," Rhythm owner Sally Anthony said. "Ultimately, I think the Nashville Rhythm, and the ABA as a whole, can be a stepping stone for a qualified woman to coach in the NBA."
In 2001, Stephanie Ready became the first woman to coach in men's professional sports as an assistant coach of the Greenville Groove in the National Basketball Development League. She was with team until it folded in the summer of 2003 and now is an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics in the WNBA.
Last year, Tennessee State athletic director Teresa Phillips
became the first woman ever to coach a Division I men's team after
interim coach Hosea Lewis was suspended for one game.