Wednesday, February 29, 2012

McGee, Cooper-Dyke, Ward To Speak At USC Women's Conference

Trio helped Women of Troy basketball to 1983 and 1984 NCAA titles.

Feb. 27, 2012

Three members of USC's 1983 and 1984 NCAA championship women's basketball--Rev. Paula McGee, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and Capt. Melissa Ward--will be featured speakers at the 2012 USC Women's Conference this Thursday (March 1) on the USC campus.

The USC Athletic Department has partnered with the USC Alumni Association to provide compelling speakers for the popular Conference.

For the past three years, the Conference has brought together more than 1,600 USC alumnae, parents, students, faculty, staff and friends with programs in professional development, women's health, personal wellness and financial strategies. Through panel discussions, interactive workshops and facilitated networking activities, the Conference empowers women to connect or reconnect with USC, build personal and professional networks, and learn new strategies for success in various facets of life.

McGee will deliver the event's luncheon speech, while Cooper-Dyke and Ward will participate in an "Inspired and Empowered Speakers Series" afternoon panel.

McGee (along with twin sister, Pam) was a 2-time All-American frontcourt player at USC. She played professionally in the U.S. and Europe. She then earned master's degrees from the Interdenominational Theological Center (in divinity) and from Vanderbilt (in religion) and is working on a doctorate in women's studies from Claremont Graduate University. She started a sports management agency (where she represented her twin) and founded the Christian Business Success Network, then was the Dean of Chapel at Fisk University. She now is an ordained Baptist minister who operates Paula McGee Ministries, where she preaches, lectures, does motivational speaking and is a life coach.

Cooper-Dyke, who starred at guard for the Women of Troy, became one of the world's best women's players. She won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics and a bronze in 1992. She played professionally overseas and was with the 2-time WNBA champion Houston Comets, where she was WNBA MVP and the league's leading scorer. She then coached in the WNBA and in college, including currently at North Carolina-Wilmington.

Ward played guard at USC while also involved in the Air Force ROTC. Her career then saw her set a number of female African-American firsts: the first in pilot training at Lubbock's Reese Air Force Base, the first to receiver a fighter pilot rating, the first to serve as a flight instructor in the U.S. Air Force and the first as a captain for a commercial airline (United).

Several of the Conference's other speakers have ties to the USC Athletic Department, including Denise Austin and Kristina Ripatti-Pearce. Austin will present a morning workshop entitled, "Empower Your Body, Love Your Life." Ripatti-Pearce will participate in the "Inspired and Empowered Speakers Series" afternoon panel with Cooper-Dyke and Ward.

Austin, whose daughters have been involved with the USC women's lacrosse program, is a pioneer in the exercise and sports industry. She has sold more than 20 million exercise videos and DVDs, authored more than 10 books on fitness and starred in the longest running fitness show in the history of television. A champion of the benefits of heart health and good nutrition, she is serving her second term on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Ripatti-Pearce, a former L.A.P.D. officer who was paralyzed in the line of duty, is a scholarship recipient of USC's Swim With Mike Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund. She is now a motivational speaker.

The fourth annual USC Women's Conference, themed "Inspired and Empowered: Moving Forward!," is sold out, but there will be a recap of the day on the USC Alumni Association website (

For more information about the Conference, click HERE.

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