Women are taking over the sports industry. From playing, to coaching, journalism, and owning teams. This brings us to talk about the “ATL”. Atlanta is the sports hub of the South and a great place to host and experience a championship game. It is the home of the Falcons, Hawks, Dream, Braves, Atlanta United FC and the newly established Minor League women’s team the Atlanta Angels. The Angels was founded in 2018 under the Women’s American Basketball Association, better known as the league of opportunity! Speaking of opportunity, this past February the Atlanta Angels hired Houston Texas’ own Azzie Knox as their new head coach! We had a chance to catch up with the former athlete and AAU coach via email and the interview went as follows:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Azzie Knox, I’m from the great state of Texas, and moved to Atlanta in 2012 to pursue my career in sports. I am 34 and I am the oldest of three girls. I have a degree in Sports Management and I am pursuing my Masters in Business Administration.
What is your athletic background?
Sports runs deep in my family. My father was an all around athlete in high school and played college football for SMU. He got drafted to the Kansas City Chiefs and then would play for the Houston Oilers. My mother was a tennis champion in high school and my sister also played basketball for Northwestern Louisiana. I started playing basketball as young as 5 and my dad was my first coach. I grew up playing in co-ed leagues up until I started playing in middle school. Along with my dad, I had an older boy-cousin , and uncles that taught me the game of basketball. My parents knew they had athletes, and I played every sport throughout middle and high school. But basketball was my calling, I signed to play for a D1 program in Texas, The University of Texas PanAM. I would also play for Delaware State (D-I) , Coffeyville Community College (JUCO), and Rogers State University (D-II). I also played both professional ball overseas and semi-professional . I played for Team USA in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan and played in the Mediterranean Cup of Champs in Spain and France, placing first in Spain.
How long have you been coaching?
Both of my parents were coaches, so I got introduced to it at a young age. I tore my ACL when I was 16, and ended up assisting my AAU coach that same summer. The summer of my rehab, I ended up coaching my High School JV summer league team. In college, I was the Assistant Coach for another former AAU team of mine, I would end up putting coaching on hold to pursue my basketball career.
How did you come across this opportunity to become the Head Coach of the Atlanta Angels?
AK: I had the pleasure of watching the Atlanta Angels in its inaugural season a couple years ago. It was a fresh new organization in the area with players that I knew and had played with, led by a woman. The owner, MJ, has been nothing less than amazing from the jump. Watching her build, support, motivate, and invest in her team kept my attention. When I saw the post that they were looking for a Head Coach, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to be a part of such a great organization. I was incredibly excited when MJ reached out to me about an interview. It wasn’t until the in-person interview, that it was revealed that the team was familiar with me. We joke about it now, but when the interview was set up, MJ contacted the team captain, Nicole, to meet us. She had no idea it was me at first, but once she did, she let it be known immediately that I was the perfect fit. I am definitely humbled to see the respect shown from our team captain as well as the rest of the team, they have been more than welcoming and eager to get the season started.
Who is your coaching inspiration?
My parents. As I have gotten older, I have come across more and more adults talk about how great coaches and mentors my parents were. I’ve even heard a few say they don’t know what they would do if it wasn’t for my parents. Grateful that I was able to watch how they did it growing up. They weren’t just concerned about the athlete, but the individual as a whole. They care about the person beyond what they can do for you and they have both inspired me to be nothing less than great. Shoutout to Ernest and Debra Knox Jr.
What can we expect from the upcoming Atlanta Angels’ season?
Expect the Atlanta Angels, to compete, work hard, show great sportsmanship and professionalism, and play some great basketball.
Are you still recruiting players or do you have your whole team?
We will be hosting tryouts, details on that coming soon. But we are seeking a couple pieces.
Do you have any certain team building skills that you are going to showcase throughout the season?
AK: We do have team builders that we plan to have throughout the season. That is TBD for now.
Did this pandemic make you change your plans on how you were looking to start the pre-season?
I wouldn’t say change my plans, but more-so, making sure necessary precautions are taken to ensure the safety of the team. I still expect players to start pre-season in shape.
It is said that the city is opening back up, but still we need to take the necessary precautions, are there any community events that you have in mind that you have on standby just in case it’s safe to do?
Yes there are two events that we are working on and dates are TBD due to COVID-19. Our Summer 2020 KickOff Clinic for Boys and Girls ages 4-15. And our fun Angels in the Community. Look for info soon.
Do you have anything special in mind for the fans from the team on opening day?
Most certainly, we plan on showing our appreciation for our wonderful Atlanta Angels family. Stay tuned for that.
Do you have a “motto” in mind for the whole season?
Champions keep playing until they get it right” – Billie Jean King
This team went to the championship in its first year and experienced a hard fought tough loss. Last season was a humbling gut check by making it to the playoffs, but not the championship. Regardless, these ladies are champions, and champions don’t give up. This is redemption season for us!
Last, can you give us your take on how important women empowerment is in the sport industry?
Women empowerment in sports is huge, we haven’t always had these opportunities in the past, so the evolution of women in sports has been amazing. For the next generation of young women coming up, it’s important for them to continue to see us making history and breaking barriers. It keeps their hope alive! Therefore, this pattern can continue to help women stay in the habit of paving the way for others.
This interview has us so excited about the WABA’s upcoming fourth season in August! We have a feeling that the Atlanta Angels are going to represent the city well as they continue to grow throughout the existence of the league. For more information and updates please, visit atlantaangelsbball.com and follow @atlantaangelsbball on Instagram.
For more on the Women’s American Basketball Association, visit womenaba.com and follow @womensaba. For all of our BOSS ladies reading this, if you would like to partner with the Atlanta Angels or the WABA as a whole and have your logos presented on jerseys and other marketing materials, feel free to email both email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. You can’t pass up on a smart worldwide opportunity such as this!
Journalist: Helen Bohnanna