Bishop counts her blessings Ex-Western coach reaches 'mountaintop' at N.C. St.

March 27, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Breezy Bishop says she has been blessed, and it's hard to argue.

How else would a coach be able to walk away from the resume she'd established in the high school ranks and right into the Final Four?

But such is life for Bishop, 62, who compiled 411 wins at Western High School and now -- as an assistant coach at North Carolina State -- finds herself outside the locker room at Kemper Arena, site of the Final Four.

She takes time to mention deities, mountaintops and her former team, Western, which made it to the Class 4A state semifinals.

"My high school tradition continues to go on by a great coaching staff there," Bishop said, "and here I have an opportunity, in my first full-time position, to help the team reach the Final Four in my first year.

"I'm excited, but I'm not surprised, because God's been great to me. I'm never been surprised by what he puts in front of me."

Part of what was put in front of Bishop was a senior class -- including All-American Chasity Melvin -- that needed a role model, booster, confidant and taskmaster.

"When I was first hired, [N.C. State coach Kay Yow] wanted me to take the four seniors under my wing," said Bishop, known to the seniors as "Cool Breeze".

The seniors, all of which are African-Americans, said that Bishop, also an African-American, was better able to connect with them.

"[Yow] felt like we needed someone we could go talk to and we could relate to," said N.C. State senior Rosalyn McClendon. "This was a time when we needed guidance to go in the right direction."

Yow also said the seniors were the only ones on the team not recruited by assistant Stephanie Glance, so Bishop helped by providing them with someone to look to besides Yow.

Describing herself as resurrected, Bishop said her Final Four experience is her trip to the mountaintop, something she says she only hovered around during her years as a high school coach.

As much as she enjoyed her 28 years at Western, Bishop said she enjoys the fact that she no longer carries the burden of running the ship.

"I'm just a small part of the puzzle here," Bishop said. "I'm no longer the general. I'm the private."

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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