After being a part of the WNBA for more than two decades, Sky assistant coach Bridget Pettis on Saturday has decided to call it quits just weeks before the 2020 season, citing increasing health concerns for players and social unrest as two main reasons for her decision.
Pettis plans to shift her focus from basketball to Project Roots AZ, a non-profit she founded that works to educate the public on growing its own food and supporting the homeless.
In a press release announcing the news, Pettis questioned the safety and viability of the upcoming 22-game season, which will be played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, later this month.
“I asked a lot of questions that not too many people were happy about,” Pettis said. “I discovered that some medical staff of teams not only believe it’s not safe, but also the women don’t have enough resources as they believe we should unlike the NBA going into this bubble. If the WNBA cannot upgrade the situation even more with safety I feel the WNBA should wait and play the following season. Why put ourselves and players in Florida as cases increase?
“I feel the WNBA should use it’s platform this year in the communities of the teams and the communities where players live. I encourage others to find a project they are passionate about and jump in 100%. We can play next year.”
Pettis had been part of the WNBA since its inaugural season. She was drafted seventh overall by the Mercury in the league’s first draft in 1997. She played eight seasons with the Mercury and Fever.
After she retired from the Mercury in 2006, Pettis joined Paul Westhead’s staff in Phoenix as an assistant coach. She held that position for three seasons, during which she helped the Mercury win titles in 2007 and 2009.
Pettis later served as an assistant with the Shock and Wings before joining the Sky in January 2018. Last season, she helped Wade change the trajectory of the organization. After finishing 10th in 2018, the Sky made the playoffs for the first time in two seasons and won 20 games, the third most wins in a season in franchise history.
“We will miss Bridget and wish her well in her future endeavors,” general manager and coach James Wade said in a statement. “With everything that has happened in 2020, this has been a rocky year for everyone, but we will do as everyone else has continued to do, and that is continue to push forward. We look forward to coming together as a group and doing what we love down in Florida.”
Wade will be joined by remaining assistant coaches Olaf Lange and Emre Vatansever for the upcoming 22-game season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.