VUU player, former coach helping women go pro
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Coach Barvenia Wooten used her love for basketball to bring something to central Virginia that’s never before existed.
In 2020, she launched ‘The Richmond Roadrunners,’ a women’s semi-pro basketball team that prepares young athletes for the possibility of playing professionally in the WNBA or overseas.
Cincinnati, Ohio native Barvenia Wooten is no stranger to the Richmond hardwood.
Wooten is a Virginia Union graduate, a member of the Virginia Union Hall of Fame, and a 1983 National Basketball Champion.
“My four years at Virginia Union was a great experience,” said Barvenia Wooten. “We were the first team to win two CIAA back in 1981 and 1982, and then in 1983, we were the first HBCU to win a national title.”
After her college career, Wooten played professionally for 15 years and then coached at the collegiate level for the last twenty.
Now, she’s putting all her energy into the Richmond Roadrunners, a semi-professional women’s basketball team a part of the Women’s American Basketball Association (WABA).
“I’m looking for those young ladies who can fit into our organization,” said Wooten.
Due to COVID, their actual season didn’t start until 2021.
“We ended up finishing with a record with 6 and 3, and we made it to the first round playoffs,” said Wooten.
Coach Wooten says she created this team to prepare young ladies to get an opportunity to go to the WNBA or possibly an overseas contract.
“We had two young ladies to go play over at Romania; we had one to play in Sweden, a former WNBA ballplayer, and then one to play in Israel,” said Wooten.
The goal is to give women the same opportunities as men.
“We do the same thing as men.. we go to practice, we work hard, we condition, we do strength training. We do all the things that our counterparts are doing, but we don’t get that same opportunity,” said Wooten.
“It was pretty hard seeing the men having a league a few years before the women did,” said returning player Jasalyn Jenkins.
Jenkins is back for a second season. She says it’s because of Coach Wooten she’s able to lace up again and relive her dreams.
“Coach Wooten is a very sweet, loving, and caring woman, but at the same time, she don’t take no mess,” said Jenkins. “I did think it was over, but in the back of my mind, I still wanted to have that opportunity, and I always told myself that if I was presented the opportunity to play again, then it would be no questions asked.”
Going forward, Coach Wooten hopes to continue to build leaders on and off the court and have had a positive impact on her community.
“I want to show Richmond that this is a great group of young ladies that’s looking to provide quality education, not only for fans but young girls - to let them know, those dreams that young girls have of playing basketball, that they can do it too,” said Wooten.
The season starts the first week in July, and coach hopes to improve their 6-3 record and make it to the playoffs again.
The team is currently looking for sponsorship to help out with costs like uniforms and travel.
If you would like to help, click here.
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