First Caribbean WNBA Player Simone “Jamaican Hurricane” Edwards to serve as National Spokesperson for Caribbean American Heritage Month, June 2017
The First Caribbean WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) Player Simone Edwards has signed on as National Spokesperson for Caribbean American Heritage Month. Ms. Edwards who was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, accepted the duties of spokesperson for Caribbean American Heritage Month to help bring more visibility to Caribbean Americans and the contributions they make.
The history-making player was selected by the New York Liberty in the 1997 inaugural WNBA season. After competing internationally, Ms. Edwards returned to the WNBA to play for Seattle Storm, ultimately winning a championship. The ‘Jamaican Hurricane’ as she was called in the game, is equally known for making headlines off the court, speaking out on issues of bullying, sexual abuse and self-esteem. As mentioned in her heartfelt memoir, ‘Unstoppable’, Ms. Edwards endured the harsh realities of growing up poor in a gang-infested village, yet found the inner strength to maintain hope in the face of opposition.
As National Spokesperson, Ms. Edwards will make appearances at several events being hosted by the Institute of Caribbean Studies and ICS affiliates around the country, including the Caribbean American Legislative Forum on Capitol Hill, Caribbean Festivals, and a book signing events.
“I am extremely honored to be part of the month-long celebration to commemorate Caribbean American Heritage. Caribbean Americans are making remarkable strides on so many fronts to the American landscape, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to help bring awareness in any way I possibly can,” said Simone Edwards.
Caribbean American Heritage Month was established out of the need to disseminate knowledge about the contributions of Caribbean immigrants to America, and to be, in short, the platform for a deepened dialogue between Caribbean peoples and the American public.
Making people smile is what Simone Edwards has done, on and off the basketball court, her entire life. Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, the 6’4″ former center is the first Caribbean and Jamaican player to be signed to the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
As a high school senior, Edwards was offered a full scholarship to an American college – but only if she learned to play basketball. Frequently referred to as the “Jamaican Hurricane,” Edwards is famous in the WNBA for her fan-favorite “Shimmy Shake” and her record as one of the top rebounders in the world. She first garnered attention on the court during junior college, at Seminole State College in Seminole, Oklahoma, leading the team to an undefeated conference record, ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association Top 10. During her tenure, she was the recipient of several top sports awards and became the First Kodak All-American in the school’s history. Edwards’ junior college success carried over to her time as team co-captain at Division I University of Iowa.
Upon graduating, Edwards was signed to the WNBA New York Liberty during the 1997 inaugural season, becoming the first Caribbean and first Jamaican player. She gained international prominence as a basketball star in Italy, Hungary, Israel, and Spain leading teams to championships including the Israeli Cup and the Spanish Copa de la Reina. In 2000, she signed with the Seattle Storm’s inaugural team, ultimately becoming a WNBA champion in 2004. Edwards announced her retirement after a six-year career with the Seattle Storm in 2006, retiring as the longest-tenured member on the original Storm roster.
Post-retirement, Edwards was selected to represent her home country as team captain on the Jamaica Basketball Women’s National Team, winning the country’s first-ever gold medal at the 2006 Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championship. In 2014, she returned to the team as head coach, winning yet another gold medal at the championship.
Edwards is a member of the Seattle Storm All-Decade Team and the Seattle Storm Legend Fraternity, and she was named an NCAA Women’s Basketball Ambassador. In 2015, she starred in the award-winning documentary feature film Coming Back to the Hoop, coaching senior women to the Senior National Basketball Championship. As part of her lifetime commitment to philanthropy and community service, she founded ‘Simone4Children Foundation’ to uplift and educate children in Kingston, and inspired by the bullying she experienced from childhood to college, she also created The Anti-Bully Project as a champion in the fight against bullying worldwide.
Edwards is a highly sought-after motivational speaker who shares her incredible personal stories of success, failure, and determination. As the co-founder of Diverse Writers Room, a literature, television and film content creation company, she recently published ‘UNSTOPPABLE’, a memoir of adversity, perseverance and triumph.
For more information, visit her site at www.jamaicanhurricane.com.
Source: Institute of Caribbean Studies