Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Bridgette Gordon, who helped Tennessee capture two of its eight NCAA titles in the sport as a student-athlete, has returned to her alma mater as an assistant, UT Head Coach Holly Warlick announced on Thursday.
Gordon, a 1988 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, comes to Rocky Top from Wichita State, where she spent seven seasons, including the last three as the recruiting coordinator. Gordon, who served as associate head coach a year ago, helped WSU land the highest-ranked recruiting class in program history when Blue Star Basketball rated the 2012-13 signing group at No. 47 in the nation.
In addition to her work as a gifted recruiter, Gordon helped the Shockers make their first three appearances ever in the NCAA Tournament while capturing the program’s first three regular- and post-season conference championships. The Shockers advanced to postseason play five times during her stint in Wichita.
“Though there was urgency to fill this position, I took my time and turned over every stone to find the best fit for this program,” Warlick said. “Bridgette checks all the boxes in terms of who I wanted. I am so excited to welcome her back to Tennessee as a member of our staff.”
“Everyone we visited with about Bridgette spoke highly of her reputation as a coach and person. She has great relationships with her players, college administrators, AAU and high school coaches, university donors and the community. One veteran college athletics administrator told us ‘the game needs Bridgette Gordon in it.'”
“Bridgette is not only a fantastic recruiter, but she also is an experienced floor coach who holds players accountable. She has a great love for Tennessee, coaches with passion, cares about people, embodies loyalty and is invested in the history and future of this program. I can’t wait to hit the ground running with Bridgette on our staff.”
Gordon, who has 14 years of experience in the coaching ranks and another as a WNBA scout, expressed her joy in returning to campus as a member of the Warlick’s staff.
“First, I would like to thank God for blessing me with this opportunity,” Gordon said. “I am grateful to Holly and the UT Athletics administration for the opportunity and for having faith in me to continue building the rich tradition of the Lady Vol program.
“This opportunity is reminiscent of a call I received over 30 years ago, of being offered a scholarship. I had always dreamed of being a Lady Vol. After playing and being part of this rich tradition, I have continued to dream about coming back as a coach and helping Holly continue to add to the Lady Vol legacy. Another dream has come true!
“I’m overwhelmed and grateful, because Knoxville is a special place. I spent the best four years of my life here. The fans have always been so faithful and supportive. There is no place like home, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. It’s heartfelt, because it has only been a year since we lost Pat, and I know she would be proud of me.
“I look forward to assisting Holly, Dean and Sharrona as we continue to shape this wonderful program, but most importantly I am ecstatic about meeting and working with this awesome group of Lady Vols.”
Gordon’s influence helped establish several Wichita State student-athletes as dominant forces in the Missouri Valley Conference. She helped guide Jessica Diamond to a pair of first-team all-conference selections, Haleigh Lankster to 2011-12 MVC Defensive Player of the Year accolades, and Alex Harden to 2013, 2014 and 2015 MVC Tournament MVP honors as well as back-to-back MVC Defensive Player of the Year and 2015 MVC Player of the Year distinction. Harden developed into a 2015 WNBA Draft pick.
Prior to her tenure at WSU, Gordon spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Along with being an assistant coach, she was GSU’s recruiting coordinator her final two seasons with the Panthers, where she helped land the No. 52 ranked class in the nation. Georgia State improved its win total in each season Gordon spent on the bench.
Before her stint in Atlanta, Gordon served one year as a regional scout for the WNBA in 2006-07. She traveled the country rating the top 50 seniors in the nation and evaluated underclassmen for future WNBA consideration.
From 2001-06, Gordon was an assistant coach in her hometown of DeLand, Fla., at Stetson University, and spent her last two seasons with the Hatters as the recruiting coordinator. In 2005, she helped lead the squad to its first conference tournament championship and the initial NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
Gordon enjoyed a stellar collegiate playing career at Tennessee from 1985-89, helping lead Tennessee to its first two NCAA National Championships as a sophomore (1987) and as a senior (1989) along with two other Final Four appearances. That accomplishment made UT the first school in women’s basketball to advance to four consecutive NCAA Final Fours.
With Warlick serving as an assistant to Pat Summitt on those Tennessee teams, Gordon was a four-time All-SEC First Team performer and two-time Kodak All-American. Her number 30 is hanging from the rafters at Thompson-Boling Arena, and she is a member of the Women’s Basketball (2007), Tennessee Sports (2012), University of Tennessee Athletics (2001) and DeLand (Fla.) High School Halls of Fame.
Gordon was named NCAA Final Four MVP, SEC Female Athlete of the Year and SEC Player of the Year in 1989 and was the SEC Tournament MVP in 1988 and 1989. She collected SEC Freshman of the Year accolades in 1986 and later was named to the NCAA 25th Anniversary Team and the Team of the Decade (1980s).
Finishing her college career as UT’s all-time leader in points (2,462) and steals (336), Gordon remains second in both categories through the 2016-17 season. The 1989 UT graduate possesses a B.S. in political science.
On the international stage, Gordon earned her Olympic gold medal in 1988, prior to her senior year of college. She traveled to Seoul, South Korea, and helped the USA take the top spot on the podium. She was the fourth-leading scorer and one of two collegiate members of Team USA who brought home gold medals. Gordon’s .571 field goal percentage was second on the squad that went 5-0 to achieve its “Sole Goal” of “Seoul Gold”.
Following her collegiate career, Gordon played professionally in Italy, where she was a perennial all-star and won seven Italian Championships and two European Cups (1994 & 1996), and Turkey, before a two-year stint with the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs.
Photo Courtesy UT AthleticsBridgette Gordon Holly Warlick SEC Tennessee