When Suzie McConnell Serio won gold with the U.S. basketball team at the 1988 Olympics, she thought she had reached the pinnacle of her career. Ten years later, she's got another shot at glory, this time with the WNBA Cleveland Rockers.
In between, she won a bronze medal at the '92 Olympics, got married, had four kids and coached girls high school basketball. Returning to play pro ball was something she never expected."When I went into this, my entire family went in with me," McConnell Serio says. "It's all new and exciting for all of us."
The real excitement began as soon as the scrappy, 5-foot-5 guard took the floor in the Rockers' season opener earlier this month against the New York Liberty before about 14,000 people at Gund Arena. She's helped the team win two of its first three games.
A year ago, none of it seemed possible.
When the inaugural WNBA season began in 1997, McConnell Serio was pregnant with her fourth child. Of the 110 players in the WNBA, 10 have children - and a quarter of those 16 children belong to McConnell Serio.
"I was basically pregnant for the last three years," she says. "I never thought I'd play professional ball."
But when she returned from Colorado Springs last summer after serving on the selection committee for the U.S. national women's basketball team, she was charged up.
"She came home so excited," says her husband, Pete, a teacher and coach. "We thought, if she could get in shape, she should give it a try."
McConnell Serio started working out with her team at Oakland (Pa.) Catholic High School last fall, running the drills she had them run, doing the wind sprints, lifting the weights. All the hard work paid off when she was drafted in the second round by the Rockers.