Ruthie Bolton Remains A Part of the Monarchs

A Conversation With A Legend

As a WNBA pioneer and 1996 Olympic gold medalist, Ruthie Bolton spent eight years in Sacramento where she was a two-time All-WNBA First Team member and All-Star. Despite her retirement in 2004, Bolton, who finished her career with averages of 10.0 point and 3.1 rebounds, is still involved in the game as a coach at William Jessup University and serves as the Monarchs fan and team relations manager. WNBA.com recently sat down with the WNBA All-Decade Team Honorable Mention to discuss her playing days as well as what she thinks about today's WNBA.

Q. The 95-96 USA team ten-year anniversary was this year. Looking back, how important was that experience in your career?
"To me it was the light on my professional career. My experience with USA Basketball was great not just because of the winning but because of the friendships I've developed. But winning always makes it better."

Ruthie Bolton is a pioneer to women's basketball.
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
Q. What were you doing prior to that?
"I was playing overseas. I played in Sweden, Hungary, and two years in Italy before the WNBA. I had a good time with my international experience, but it felt good to be able to come back home."

Q. What was that first season like?
"In '97, to be coming from the Olympics it was just exciting to see that women's basketball was still alive. The United States really embraced us. There's so much talent now, so not a day goes by when I don't wish I was still playing. We really made a huge mark not only in women's basketball but on sports."

Q. How has the game changed?
"I think there's a lot more talent. Back in the day, Houston dominated, but I think in the past four or five years no team can really say 'we're going to win.'"

Q. What impact did ABL players have on the league?
"I don't know what would have happened if there were two leagues. It just wasn't going to be good for women's basketball. There was a lot of talent, but a lot of players went without jobs who could play, so what that could mean is the WNBA had to have more teams or two leagues. But you don't want to have two leagues because they'd always be competing and that just wouldn't have been good with all the comparing. A lot of those players who came over have made a huge impact. The ABL gave many players the opportunity to play and go some players really motivated about the game. People still talk about it."

Q. Who are your favorite players to watch today?
"I really like watching Kristin Haynie, Nicole Powell, and Erin Buescher. I know (Buescher) doesn't have a name and a lot of people might not know of her but she is starting to emerge and is always the same. She's happy and always plays hard. I like Alana Beard. She's strong and very explosive and just gives a lot to the game. Tamika Catchings is fun to watch and she doesn't take anything for granted. There's a lot of talent out there."

Q. What are you doing now?
"I'm coaching at William Jessup University, a Christian college and small school. I'm also working with the Monarchs in the front office in player development. I still do a lot of public speaking and motivation stuff."

Q. Do you consider yourself a pioneer?
"I do. I really do because I feel like I had to work hard, and if you look at the track record there was nothing handed to me starting from not being recruited out of high school. I want people to say that I really was a great role model and really paved the sport."

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