Introducing Coach Bridget Pettis
By: Veleisa Burrell
Step onto the WNBA Dallas Wings court during practice and you’ll experience various sights and sounds: squeaking shoe soles and the shouts of plays being called up and down the court as players run drills with focused intensity. The physicality and drama of basketball may seem like a diametrical opposite experience to the fluidity of yoga, where there is no jostling for position under a net and practitioners stay within the four corners of their mat. For Dallas Wings Assistant Coach Bridget Pettis, there is no separating the two worlds.
Pettis possesses a quiet intensity with bright eyes and a quick smile. The East Chicago native and Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame member carries herself with awareness learned both on the court and in the ashram. While attending college at the University of Florida in Gainesville in the early 1990s, Bridget played basketball under Coach Carol Ross. Within a few years of graduation, Pettis was selected by the Phoenix Mercury as the seventh pick in the first round of the WNBA’s inaugural 1997 draft.
“It was humbling to be part of the beginning stages of the WNBA,” Bridget said of her role in sports history. “[That] class of women…set a strong foundation of passion, hard work and commitment to making the WNBA the greatest stage for woman’s professional basketball.”
After playing for the Mercury until 2001, Pettis joined the Indiana Fever until 2003 before returning to the Mercury in 2006 and retiring after that season. In her career, Bridget enjoyed many successes but, in 2008, she experienced a “disconnection” within herself as she struggled to make sense of life. It was during this challenge that she discovered yoga as a way to translate her anxiety to calm. In the stillness of her practice, seated and rooted to the earth, Bridget found her peace.
“I felt like it was God that drew me to my first yoga training,” she explains of how she became a yoga teacher. She met her Ashtanga teacher, the late Dave Oliver, in a small studio housed in an office building. Upon hearing that his training was authentic to the style taught in India, Bridget was instantly eager to join.
The years spent in training, both as a WNBA player and an Ashtanga yogi, prepared Bridget for the next stage in her career: as an assistant coach in the league that shaped her life. The Dallas Wings hired her to work alongside legendary head coach Fred Williams in 2014. In her role, Pettis focuses on development of physical fundamentals, helping the women grow as athletes and leaders. Off the court, she found a home for her practice at Dallas Yoga Center, a “wonderful” community she calls a blessing. After the 2016 season in Dallas, Bridget spent part of her off-season in India at a semi-silent retreat where she recharged her energy and returned to the court more ready than ever.
Coach Pettis, leadership is not limited to basketball; she has opened her house to the Wings athletes and front office staff to participate in informal yoga classes. The same bodies that fly down the court flow through practice under Pettis’ guidance. When asked why she offers her teaching to the group, she simply states: “I don’t look at what I have to gain [by] offering to teach yoga. It is a service to share and I’m grateful to anyone that is wanting and willing to roll out their mat and allow the practice to transform their life in whatever way it is to be. I am not only a yoga teacher for the player; I am a servant to everyone.”
Assistant Coach Bridget Pettis welcomes all to experience the Dallas Wings at College Park Center in Arlington. For more information on the Dallas Wings, visit www.dallaswings.com.