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Michele Van Gorp (born May 10, 1977 in Warren, Michigan) is a former professional basketball player in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), most recently with the Minnesota Lynx. Best known as one of the first WNBA players to come out publicly as a lesbian, Van Gorp is now an assistant women's basketball coach at Colgate University.
Basketball Career Edit
After attending high school in Clinton Charter Township, Michigan, Van Gorp played collegiate basketball at Purdue University during her freshman and sophomore years, but transferred to Duke University alongside Nicole Erickson for her junior and senior years. She was the tallest woman to suit up in a Duke uniform. She led Duke to the school's first NCAA final, which took place in San Jose. She was inducted to the school's Hall of Fame in 2002. The first Duke student athlete to be selected in the WNBA's draft in 1999, she was selected in the second round, being the 18th overall pick. Van Gorp was traded to Portland after her rookie season, where she improved her personal averages and gained confidence in her game. After only one year with the Portland Fire she was traded to the Minnesota Lynx alongside Lynn Pride. With the Lynx, Van Gorp gained recognition as one of the league's toughest defenders and an effective weapon to help "shut down" Margo Dydek.
She has played in Europe for the following teams:
- Panathinaikos (1999) - Won the Rochetti Cup
- Parma (2000)
- CJM Bourges (2000) - Euroleague winner
- Dynamo Moscow (2003)
- Ros Casares Valencia (2004)
She missed most of the 2004 season due to a stress fracture in her left foot that occurred during a practice session. Surgeons had to insert a screw into the navicular bone of her foot. Van Gorp's contract with the Lynx had expired after the 2004 WNBA season ended, but she was still too injured to play for the 2005 season.
According to a December 1, 2005, news article from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Van Gorp filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court against a member of the Lynx's medical staff and three other parties. The suit named Dr. Joel Boyd, the team's orthopedic surgeon; Dr. Fernando Pena; Fairview-University Medical Center; and Orthopaedic Center as defendants. Van Gorp was reported to be seeking at least $50,000 for negligence and loss of employment.
From the time Sue Wicks retired in 2002 until October 2005, Van Gorp was notable as the WNBA's only open lesbian. Sheryl Swoopes and Latasha Byears, also WNBA players, have since stated publicly that they are also lesbians. Van Gorp entered into a civil union with Kyleen Wade in Vermont, where the couple lived for a time.
After leaving the WNBA, Van Gorp was reported to be the assistant coach of Glens Falls, New York high school girls basketball team. In June 2007, Colgate University in upstate New York announced that Van Gorp had been appointed as an assistant coach of its women's basketball team.