The First WNBA Commissioner Was Made For The Job
Cathy Englebert was the perfect choice to be the WNBA’s first-ever commissioner. She was a CEO at Deloitte and the first woman to lead a Big Four professional services company in the United States. She worked there for 33 years, demonstrating loyalty, commitment, and strong leadership. Englebert also had a strong background in basketball, having played at Lehigh where she was team captain her senior year.
“The confidence that built me into the leader I am today, it all started in sports,” she told Worth Magazine. “And I didn’t know it at the time, but now people ask, ‘How did you get here,’ and it was like, I built all this incredible confidence when I was in high school and college to compete
in an otherwise male-dominated world, and that’s what helped me, so I want to help other women do the same thing and succeed.”
Englebert also played lacrosse at Lehigh, but it was on the basketball court where she really excelled, earning All-Conference honors in her final season. Englebert played for Muffet McGraw who went on to become a hall of fame coach, winning two national titles at Notre Dame. She told LehighSports.com,
“I picked up valuable advice from her. She said, ‘Be your best, not just when it counts, but in ordinary moments.’ That advice later will help you prioritize people over tasks and keep you calm among the chaos and adapt. Remember how you respond during challenging times really defines who you are.”
Englebert took over a league now in its 24th year of existence with a brand new collective bargaining agreement secured.
“This job seemed like it was made for me, at a time when we have this moment in women’s sports, the momentum around the WNBA, which has the best elite athletes in the world; and this movement around women’s empowerment. That struck me—and there’s the three M’s: moment, momentum, and movement. It’s time to take advantage of all that,” Engelbert told Lehigh.edu.