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Building A Legacy: Women’s Basketball in Connecticut A Conversation with Jen Rizzotti and Nia Clouden, Connecticut Sun

March 22, 2023

Event Details

Date: March 22, 2023
Time: 6:00 pm
–7:00 pm

In celebration of Women’s History Month and March Madness, join us for a conversation with Connecticut Sun President Jen Rizzotti of UConn Women’s Basketball and WNBA fame and Nia Clouden, Guard for the Connecticut Sun. Join Greenwich Historical Society in welcoming Rizzotti and Clouden as they engage in an exciting conversation about the importance of women’s leadership in the field of basketball and the ways in which their personal stories weave a history of the sport’s immense impact on and off the court. Both speakers will share more about what the sport has meant to them, and how their varying perspectives ranging from player to coach to leadership have shaped their approach to the game and all that it entails. Learn more about how their individual careers have unfolded over time to shape the legacy of women’s basketball in the state today.

Jennifer Rizzotti

Speaker Jennifer Rizzotti

Jennifer Rizzotti is a Connecticut native and the current President of the Connecticut Sun in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She joined the Sun after five seasons at George Washington University where she served as the tenth women’s basketball head coach in program history. After her hiring in 2016, she spent her five-year tenure compiling a 72-74 record, including a WNIT and NCAA Tournament appearance in her first two years. Perhaps most impressive from her time at GW was her and her team’s efforts throughout the 2020-2021 season through their Bigger Than Basketball initiative, an enterprise created with the hope of bringing awareness to multiple social justice and humanitarian efforts.

Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, Rizzotti is well-known in basketball circles around the world. After taking control of the University of Hartford program, the Hawks enjoyed 11 seasons with more than 15 victories during her tenure and won at least 20 games seven times. Following the 2009-10 regular season, Rizzotti was named a finalist for the Kay Yow National Coach of the Year award after leading Hartford to a school-record 20-game winning streak, a perfect 16-0 record in conference play and the program’s first-ever national ranking.

In all, Rizzotti compiled a record of 316-216 (.594), including 183-97 (.654) in America East play, and won five conference championships and four regular-season titles. She was named America East Coach of the Year three times (2006, 2007, 2010) and developed three dozen all-conference players, including a pair of America East Players of the Year, an America East Defensive Player of the Year and an America East Rookie of the Year, as well as the program’s first-ever WNBA draftee.

Rizzotti is also deeply connected to international basketball through her involvement with the national USA Women’s Basketball program. In addition to her most recent appointment as assistant coach to the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, with whom she won a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics; she served as head coach of the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 gold medal winners as well as the 2011 U19 World Champions. In 2011, she was crowned as the USA Basketball National Coach of the Year. Additionally, Rizzotti served as an assistant for the 2014 & 2018 FIBA World Championships and served in a support role for the USA Basketball Women’s National Team’s Gold Medal run at the 2016 Olympic Games.

As a student at the University of Connecticut, Rizzotti first vaulted into the national spotlight as the starting point guard for the Huskies’ first national championship team in 1995 with an undefeated 35-0 record. A former All-American and the NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player after her junior and senior seasons, in 1996 Rizzotti virtually swept the postseason awards as Big East Player of the Year, Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the Associated Press Player of the Year, the Honda Broderick Cup for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year, the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award recipient, and the Wade Trophy winner. Rizzotti graduated as UConn’s career leader in assists (637) and steals (349) and still ranks third all-time in those categories.

Rizzotti played eight seasons of professional basketball following her graduation from UConn in 1996. In addition to five seasons in the WNBA—two with the Houston Comets, where she won two WNBA championships, and three with the Cleveland Rockers—she competed for three seasons with the New England Blizzard in the American Basketball League. In the ABL she was a two-time All-Star.

Rizzotti and her husband, Bill Sullivan, have two sons, Holden and Conor.

Nia Clouden

Speaker Nia Clouden

Nia Clouden is a guard for the Connecticut Sun in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Clouden was drafted 12th overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft by the Sun. She played in 28 regular season and seven playoff games, finishing her rookie season with 71 points, 25 rebounds, 26 assists, eight steals and one block.

Clouden came to the Connecticut Sun after four successful seasons with Michigan State University. The Owings Mills, Maryland native finished her collegiate career second all-time on the Michigan State scoring list with 1,882 points, along with 465 rebounds, 449 assists and 164 steals. During the 2021-22 season, Clouden was fifth in the Big Ten in scoring averaging 20.0 points per game, which also landed her at 20th in the nation. She broke the school record for points in a single contest, when she tallied 50 points in a double overtime loss to Florida Gulf Coast University during the 2021-22 regular season. As a Spartan, Clouden earned first team All-Big Ten honors in both her junior and senior seasons, All-Big Ten second team as a sophomore, and All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition as a freshman. She also was named an Associated Press Honorable Mention All American in her senior campaign.

Funding for this project is made possible by the State of Connecticut and the National Endowment for the Humanities, both of which provide significant support to Connecticut Humanities.