The Indiana Fever has made a strong foundation for their program. Strong coaches and players have continued to give the Fever a good record and reputation, but every program started somewhere. The history of the Fever is no exception and this is how they got their start.
The 5,500 Ticket Pledge
Three days before the 1999 WNBA season started up, Indiana, Miami, Seattle, and Portland were given the green light to start teams and begin to play in the 2000 season. Some of the reasons Indiana was chosen as a location for a team weredue to the fan support for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, overwhelming support for Purdue University’s women’s basketball team, and growing interest in girl’s basketball at both the high school and Amateur Athletic Union levels.
The slogan, “Buy the tickets. Keep the team” became the theme of ticket sales.The 1,000th ticket sale went to David Letterman’s mom, Dorothy Mengering. Lyn St. James, a famous racecar driver, purchased the 2,000th ticket.
The 3,000th ticket went to San Diego Padres’ outfielder Tony Gwynn. Larry Bird was the lucky purchaser of the 5,000th team ticket followed by Former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh purchasing the final 5,500th ticket to solidify a franchise team in Indiana.
At the Arts Garden in Circle Centre Mall, the team name and logo were unveiled in front of 300 people. Speakers included Coach Anne Donovan, COO Kelly Krauskopf, Pacers Sports President Donnie Walsh, and Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. Following this event was also tryouts at Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, for a spot on the Fever roster.
Over 200 women showed up in hopes of winning this coveted spot. Of all the participants, TexlinQuinney made the cut and found her name on the Fever roster. Two days later, the team started training camp and held its first practice on Emmis Court in Conseco Fieldhouse.
This first public practice that was open to fans to watch came in May 2000 before the NBA’s Indiana Pacers took on the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The next month showcased the Fever’s first regular season game against Miami Sol as the Fever won in a close match 57-54.
Putting Together The Roster
In July of 1999, Kelly Krauskopf was hired as the team’s first COO. She has the record of being the highest-ranking female front office executive of any of the city’s professional sports franchises. A few months later, August saw the hiring of Nell Fortner as the Head Coach of the Fever.
Fortner had prior commitments to the U.S. Women’s National Team through the 2000 Olympics Games and wouldn’t be available until the 2001 season, so Anne Donovan stepped in during the interim. Donovan would become the team’s lead assistant coach upon Fortner’s return.
During the 2000 WNBA Expansion Draft, Indiana tookLA guard GordanaGrubinas its first pick, followed byNyree Roberts, Stephanie McCarty, Monica Maxwell, Rita Williams, Kara Wolters, and ChantelTremitiere. During the WNBA Draft, the Fever also picked up JurgitaStreimiktye, Usha Gilmore, and Latavia Coleman.