Over the years, Flint, Michigan, has been known for its athletics. Many “Flintstones” went on to successful college and pro careers. Tonya Edwards is one of nearly 30 basketball players from Flint; and she’s also among a handful of Flint-born hoopsters who played on championship teams.
Edwards scored over 2,300 points for Flint Northwestern High School (1982-85), won two state titles as a player (1983, 1984) and a third as a coach there, and became the first person in Michigan history to play for and coach a state girls basketball championship team.
She later helped Tennessee win two national titles (1987 and 1989) and was the 1987 Final Four MVP as a freshman. Then as a professional, Edwards won the only two American Basketball League titles with Columbus (1996-97 and 1997-98) then played in the WNBA from 1999-2002.
“Championships are hard to come by,” said the former guard, who was inducted into the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. “They’re not just given out.”
This weekend, Edwards is one of 25 Minnesota Lynx legends honored as the team celebrates its 25th anniversary. She was selected by Minnesota with the seventh overall pick in 1999, and was the team’s first All-Star in its inaugural 1999 season.
“I was just looking at the [Lynx’s home] floor when we came in and I saw ’25.’ I was like, wow! It’s been 25 years,” marveled Edwards, who has been a Chicago Sky assistant coach since 2021, during a shootaround preparing for the May 19 season opener against Minnesota.
She has a WNBA championship ring from her time as an assistant coach for the 2016 Los Angeles Sparks, when they defeated Minnesota in five games. She was on the Sparks staff for three seasons.
“It’s just exciting to see how the league has grown and just continues to grow,” added Edwards. “We were just in Canada [Chicago played Minnesota in the first preseason game in Toronto]. It’s good to see the WNBA brand crossing borders, and people are really starting to catch on to women’s basketball as a true professional sport.”
“It’s been a journey,” said Edwards, who has also been a college head coach (Alcorn State, 2008-15). “I’ve had the opportunity to coach some phenomenal young ladies and then work alongside great people.”
Edwards is always proud to be a Flintstone. “Flint is an awesome place. It is indeed home, and that was where I got my foundation and my character development there.”
She is working towards a head coaching opportunity in the pros one day. “We don’t have enough representation on the sidelines,” noted Edwards.
The league this season has only three Black HCs—Chicago’s James Wade, Noelle Quinn in Seattle, and Tanisha Wright in Atlanta. “You know we’ll see more and more people of color coaching and in head coaching. You see [Blacks] play the game, know the game. So I think they can teach the game.”
“One day, I’ll be at the helm at the professional level [of the league]. That’s always a dream of mine,” said Edwards. “That’s one thing—you can never stop dreaming and having high expectations for yourself.”