Coach Spotlight: Karleen Thompson

by Jordan Watters, Media Relations Intern

With many years of experience in basketball, both collegiately and professionally, Coach Karleen Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Atlanta Dream.

Growing up with 11 other siblings in the house, playing sports was a way of life for her. In addition to basketball, Thompson excelled in volleyball and track during her high school years, earning All-State honors in all three sports.

“I loved them all,” Thompson said. “I enjoyed the competition, and I was just able to do it. But I did have a special love for basketball.”

Thompson still possesses that special love, as evidenced by her dedication to the sport. Her résumé includes both head and assistant coaching positions at the highest levels of women’s basketball.

She came to the Dream after serving as Assistant Coach and Defensive Coordinator at Clemson University for three seasons from 2010-13.

“For the collegiate level, I have much respect for those assistant coaches because they work hard,” Thompson said. “It’s a nonstop task. But I enjoyed working with the younger players by developing and getting to know them on that level.”

But coaching professionals is even more near and dear to Thompson’s heart.

“I absolutely love the pro level,” Thompson said. “Working with the elite athletes, being able to see talent in every position, and still building on what they’ve developed into is just great.”

Reuniting with head coach Michael Cooper is also on her list of great things in professional women’s basketball. Thompson spent eight years in the Los Angeles Sparks organization from 1997-2004, and helped Cooper guide the Sparks to WNBA titles in 2001 and 2002.

“Coop is like my older, older, older brother! We’re very close,” Thompson said. “We have a good balance. We know each other well, and I’ve learned a lot from him. Just to be back with him is comfortable because I understand and know what he wants. I could probably finish a sentence for him.”

As Thompson moves forward with the season, she plans to help bring home a WNBA Championship to Atlanta. Her message to the Atlanta Dream organization and its fans is: “Let’s make this dream a reality!”