Article from Pennlive.com, written by Eric F. Epler
The year was 1991 when Michelle Marciniak was properly introduced to basketball fans across the nation. Two pages in Sports Illustrated documented the 17-year-old’s passion for the game, her love of Michael Jordan’s drive to be the best and, of course, that signature ponytail, the one Allentown Central Catholic opponents were caught staring at 9.9 times out of 10.
There was no question Marciniak was a gifted player, that rare combination of talent and nerve that turned the 3,000-point scorer into perhaps the most recognizable girls basketball player in Pennsylvania history.
In a career defined by competition, Marciniak still relishes in reaching that lofty number.
“Scoring 3,000 points was a huge milestone for me in high school and something that I, to this day, mention in the speeches I give,” said Marciniak, away from basketball these days but still in heated competition.
Marciniak and former University of South Carolina head coach Susan Walvius co-founded SHEEX, Inc., the world’s first performance fabric bedding company, in 2008.
“I think any basketball player who is extremely competitive and successful will tell you that it’s not something you set out to do, scoring 3,000 points, but rather it comes from working hard and focusing on getting your team Ws and playing your best night in and night out.”
Building her reputation through hard work and a willingness to sacrifice is all Marciniak has ever known. And here is the payoff.
Named the Naismith National Player of the Year as a senior in 1991, Marciniak also garnered national player of the year honors by Parade Magazine and Gatorade finishing her illustrious career under coach Mike Copp with 3,025 points and two PIAA championship appearances, both losses.
“The only regret I have in my high school career was not being able to win the state final for my school,” Marciniak said. “Getting there and winning while there are two different animals.”
No matter, Marciniak made up for those near-misses shortly after the Notre Dame freshman decided to transfer to the University of Tennessee, where legendary coach Pat Summitt was assembling the greatest collection of talent in the women’s game. Marciniak fit like a glove.
Drawing the nickname “Spinderella” for her brash ball-handling skills and fearless demeanor, Marciniak led the Lady Vols to the 1996 NCAA title, banking tournament MVP honors along the way.
Always a fan favorite through her 11-year run with USA Basketball and six-year professional career in both the American Basketball League and WNBA where she starred for the Seattle Storm, Marciniak later became an assistant coach under Walvius at USC.
While today her focus is building SHEEX, which specializes in sheets and pillowcases constructed of athletic-performance fabrics, Marciniak was quick to point out those teammates and fans that helped her those many years ago.
“I was fortunate to play for one of the best high schools in Allentown Central Catholic and played for the best HS coach in the country,” said Marciniak, who had her Vikings No. 23 jersey retired.
“I played in a state and local area who supported girls basketball like no other state or city in the country. In addition, I had talented teammates who played the game at such a level where opposing teams could not focus so much on me and my scoring. If they did, my teammates would step up and score.”
This week it was announced that SHEEX’s Michelle Marciniak and her collegiate coach Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA Basketball history, were inducted into the 2012 Lady Vols Hall of Fame at the University of Tennessee where they will join an incredible legacy of sports women and coaches. Below is the official Press Release.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The 12th group of inductees for inclusion in the Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame has been announced by University of Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Dave Hart.
“We are pleased and excited to announce the 2012 class of the Lady Vol Hall of Fame,” Hart said. “This distinguished group includes a legendary coach and three former student-athletes whose participation in athletics runs the gamut from the early days of varsity women’s athletics competition at Tennessee to an inductee who is being enshrined in her first year of eligibility. It is our pleasure to welcome them into an elite circle of people who have represented the University of Tennessee at the highest level.”
The four inductees in the Class of 2012 represent three different teams. The honorees include: Jane Haist (track & field), Michelle Marciniak (basketball), Pat Summitt (basketball-coach) and Young-A Yang (golf). Athletes are eligible for inclusion 10 years after they have graduated from the University, while administrators may be admitted to the Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame five years following their last service to UT.
The Lady Vol Hall of Fame selection committee made a recommendation to waive the five-year “last service requirement” for coach Summitt, making her eligible immediately for consideration. That recommendation was approved.
Enshrinement activities are scheduled for Friday evening, Nov. 2, at the Downtown Hilton, where a private induction ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Nov. 3, the inductees will be introduced during an on-field presentation at the Tennessee versus Troy football game at Neyland Stadium.
Throughout the 36-year history of Lady Vol student-athletes, 1,881 women have donned the Orange and White Tennessee uniform. With the addition of the four individuals in the 2012 class of the Lady Vol Hall of Fame, membership now has reached 71 in this very elite Hall.
A native of Macungie, Pa., Michelle Marciniak began her career at Notre Dame before transferring to Tennessee and establishing herself as one of the program’s most beloved players during her 1993-96 tenure. The 1995 graduate and psychology major, known as “Spinderella” for her patented spin moves to the hoop, Marciniak capped her collegiate career by leading the Lady Vols to the 1996 NCAA title and earning NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player accolades. Also a 1996 Naismith All-American and a two-time All-SEC selection (1st team in 1995, 2nd team in 1996) on the court, Marciniak was recognized on the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 1994 and 1996 for her work in the classroom. The two-time NCAA Regional All-Tournament selection continues to rank first in single season three throw percentage (79%) and single game steals (11 vs. Kentucky, 1996), stands third in single season assists (204, 1994-95) and is one of 36 players to score 1,000 or more points in her UT career (1,004). Marciniak, whose in-home recruiting visit by a pregnant-Pat Summitt is the stuff of Lady Vol lore, continues to rank in the top 10 in eight other statistical categories.
After a standout playing career at UT Martin, Pat Summitt came to Knoxville in 1974 to be an assistant coach and attend graduate school at UT Knoxville. When Margaret Hutson went on a sabbatical, Summitt accepted the head coaching position, and the rest is women’s basketball history. During a legendary 38-year career as head coach that transitioned to head coach emeritus on April 18, 2012, Summitt became the winningest coach in NCAA women’s or men’s basketball history with a record of 1,098 and 208 and a winning percentage of 84 percent. She accomplished that while running her program with integrity and assuring that all 122 players who completed their eligibility at UT graduated. Along the way, Summitt led her teams to eight NCAA Championships, 18 NCAA Final Fours, 31-straight NCAA Tournament appearances,16 SEC Championships and 16 SEC Tournament Championships. She coached 21 WBCA/State Farm/Kodak All-Americans to 36 honors, 39 All-SEC players to 82 accolades, 12 Olympians and 34 WNBA players, including 15 drafted in the first round and three picked number one overall. Named the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000, Summitt was a five-time Naismith Coach of the Year and eight-time SEC Coach of the Year among an endless list of career distinctions that also included head coach of the gold-medal-winning 1984 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team.
On June 22nd, Michelle was honored to speak on behalf of Pat Summit, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history and former coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team. Michelle and Pat’s relationship goes all the way back to 1996 when Michelle led the Lady Vols to their 4th NCAA National Championship Title. At the speaking engagement last week, Michelle shared some of her fondest memories of playing for Pat and showed her support for the Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Foundation.
Michelle and Pat Summitt at a reception before Michelle speaks on behalf of Pat at a corporate speaking engagement in downtown Nashville, TN honoring Pat and supporting the Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Foundation.