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Feature Stories

Ann Drysdale Shares Life's Lessons

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 5

By Carin Merritt

“If you believe in what you’re doing with a good work ethic and you try, that’s what counts.” These are the words Ann Meyers Drysdale has chosen to live by.

On Feb. 6, Ann Drysdale gave an inspirational speech at the Rotary Club of Long Beach on the Queen Mary. In it, she depicts her life journey in which she attributes her success to following a few basic concepts gifted to her by key people in her life.

These alone could not have made an impact; however, Ann embodies an innate will and drive. Combining those traits along with her experiences in overcoming obstacles is what makes her such an upstanding mentor, not just for young women, but for anyone looking to fulfill half the accomplishments she has made thus far.

As a college basketball champion, Olympian, network television sports analyst, WBL player, executive manager of the Phoenix Suns, mother, wife and more; one cannot begin to fathom how humble a presence Drysdale exudes. She’s a powerful force and a pioneer in her own right.

She’s proven her expertise in plasticity, even in the most challenging of times. Ann was born in between five brothers and sisters at a time when women’s rights and equality was just becoming a subject of interest and action.

Title 9, signed in 1972 by President Nixon, was intended to help women, but she admits she did not see “equal pay at the cusp of this bill.” Her rare upbringing in this era forged the way for her to grow and become a leader for women in sports in a time where there was no presence to equate to.

Both of her parents met at college where her dad played basketball and, “sports always [were] a part of life for her.” One of her greatest mentors was UCLA’s legendary Coach John Wooden whom she called “Papa.” Ann says he “influenced her and taught her fundamentals of the game. He had three rules [of life and sportsmanship]: no swearing, never be critical of your teammate, and don’t be late.”

As a kid, Ann explains, she was taunted because, being a mere girl, she was told she was neither good enough nor proper for sports. Realizing people may judge her simply because she was a woman brought her to an important cross-road early in her journey, while it slightly discouraged her, she made the decision she was “not going to let other people dictate her, [and] it never occurred to her to quit.” Therefore, her story is not just one of trials and tribulations; rather, she brings forth a story of hope.

Drysdale authored a story about her experiences entitled “You let some GIRL beat you? [Behler, June 2012], which is available online at

Ann acknowledged that she was a tough competitor whose nature challenged every aspect of her life. “I was not always easy to coach and change was not always easy for me,” she says. Kenny Washington, whom she played for her freshman year of college in 1976, took on the challenge and still gave her a chance, and she realized “[she] was a better player and person because of it.”

After she stopped playing sports, broadcasting “became a career [she] could easily transition into,” but still made hard by the fact there was not a lot of women in the field at that time. Somewhere in between this she met her husband, Don Drysdale, another impacting sports figure, who became the father of her children and love of her life. His death taught her another thing about herself. She explains that “sports prepares you for diversity, and she doesn’t know how she would have dealt with Don’s death if she didn’t have family, faith, and understanding of an athlete that… you just go on.”

Important to her is what Coach John Wooden said, “Success is a peace of mind knowing that you did the best at what you are capable of becoming.” Anne believes, “as long as you do your best, that’s the most important.”