San Antonio’s Becky Hammon this summer became the first woman to interview for a head coaching job, talking with the Bucks about their opening. She didn’t get the job, but she’ll be sitting next to Gregg Popovich on the Spurs bench this season. Also, this summer, the Kings hired Jenny Boucek as a full-time assistant player development coach, and the Clippers did t Natalie Nakase to a similar post.
Beyond the coaching ranks, the 76ers announced they’ve added former WNBA star Lindsey Harding as a full-time scout. She’s only the second woman on an NBA scouting staff. Only Boucek had done it before.
So what about the Nets? While they haven’t (yet) hired a woman assistant coach or scout, their capologist for the past two years has been Natalie Jay, who earned degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law ... and was a sports writer in California in-between. The only other woman capologist in the NBA is Michelle Leftwich with the Hawks.
And they’ve quietly added three women to the performance team this summer, diversifying one of sports’ last male bastions, the training room. Only one hire, that of Stefania Rizzo as director of performance rehabilitation, made the news but the Nets now have four women in jobs aimed at keeping players healthy. That’s a rarity. (The fourth is Shanice Johnson, head trainer for the Long Island Nets.)
Each of the three brings a wealth of experience in sports from the NHL to alpine skiing. Take a look.
Rizzo most recently served as director of physiotherapy at Fortius Sport & Health, where Jeremy Lin spent most of last season rehabbing from his patella injury. Since 2006, Rizzo has also worked as the lead physiotherapist for the Canadian national alpine ski team. In this role, Rizzo has worked over 40 international World Championships, World Cup Finals and both the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics.
She holds a Master’s of Clinical Science from the University of Western Ontario.
Jana Austin is the new assistant trainer. She replaces Sebastian Poirier, who was elevated to head trainer after Lloyd Beckett returned to his home state of Maine. She comes to the Nets from the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s G-League affiliate. Before that, she worked in the WNBA for the L.A. Galaxy and served as a first responder at L.A.’s Drew League for five years!
She too holds a master’s degree, in athletic training, from California Baptist.
Amy Arundale, a rehabilitation therapist, has two doctorates, one in physical therapy from Duke, the other in biomechanics from the University of Delaware. She’s also done post-doctoral work in Sweden. Arundale’s worked primarily with soccer players, including for the Carolina Rail Hawks in the United Soccer League, the second tier of the American Soccer Pyramid.
Not surprisingly, the Nets don’t want to talk about their hires. Nor did they offer to make any of the new personnel available for an interview. That’s not how they operate. But the franchise does seem to be an attractive place to work, for man or woman. Part of it is no doubt New York, maybe even Brooklyn specifically. The other, it would seem, is the team’s growing reputation as a professional culture.