Seattle Storm coach Dan Hughes announced on Sunday that he is retiring from the WNBA after over two decades in the league. Associate head coach Noelle Quinn will take over as Storm head coach on a permanent basis. Hughes will still serve as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s Basketball Team at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
“After over 40 years of coaching basketball, I want to finish my career with the focus and determination with which I started,” Hughes said in a statement. “The Seattle Storm is in amazing shape, after two championships and a terrific playoff run in 2019, I would like to announce my retirement from the WNBA. I believe now is the right time because the team is performing well, but the rigors of being a head coach in the WNBA have taken their toll on me.”
Hughes started his career as an assistant coach on the now-defunct Charlotte Sting back in 1999. In the time since then, he’s served as head coach for the Sting, Cleveland Rockers (also defunct), San Antonio Silver Stars (now the Las Vegas Aces) and the Storm.
Along the way, he won two Coach of the Year Awards in 2001 and 2007, and led the Storm to the championship in 2018. In 2019, Hughes was diagnosed with cancer and missed the team’s first nine games after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from his digestive tract. Due to his previous health concerns, he did not travel to the bubble with the Storm last season when they won the title again. Hughes retires with 286 career wins, which is tied for third-most all-time.
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Hughes recently stepped away from the team to attend his son’s graduation from the Air Force Academy. In a statement to ESPN, he said that the time away helped him come to the realization that it was time to retire.
“I remember calling [Quinn after she served as head coach in the Storm’s win over the Sun] and saying ‘I’m so proud of you, watching your presence and what you’re doing,'” Hughes said. “It’s just funny how sometimes things kind of fall into place for a reason. I constantly preach about watching the journey you’re on, whether it’s a team or an individual, because sometimes that journey will teach you and have moments that you actually need to recognize and I thought that was probably one right there.”
Quinn spent over a decade in the league with five different teams, including two stints with the Storm. She was a part of the team that won the title in 2018, then retired to start her coaching career. She’s served as an assistant coach under Hughes in 2019 and was promoted to associate head coach in 2020. Now, she’ll take over the job in full, and become the second black woman head coach in the WNBA.
The defending champion Storm is off to a 5-1 start, and currently sit in second place.