Sooner Stiletto members mentor OU student-athletes

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Mary Pointer
Sooner Stilletos

Sooner Stiletto members mentor OU student-athletes

High-heel group brainchild of Sherri Coale

By Sandi Davis

NORMAN — All athletes at the University of Oklahoma depend on coaches to help them be the best in their sport. The coaches have assistants and many sports have managers and trainers who also assist the OU athletes excel.

One team has a special group of people who mentor the OU student-athletes, preparing them for life after graduation, and it’s the brainchild of a well-known coach.

Sherri Coale, head coach of the OU women’s basketball team, realized female players needed role models and created the Sooner Stilettos in 2003 to involve community leaders with her team, surrounding her program.

The group, named after Coale’s penchant for wearing high-heeled shoes instead of the expected Nikes or Adidas, not only comes to the women’s basketball games, they talk about the program in the communities where they live.

“The Stilettos’ have proven to be a source of encouragement, strength and inspiration for our young women,” Coale said. “As our program continues to evolve and excel, so must our support systems. The Sooner Stilettos are posed for record numbers of involvement and a depth of impact unparalleled.”

Mary Blankenship Pointer, Sooner Stilettos president and senior vice president of Republic Bank and Trust in Norman, talked about the group’s activities.

“We support all women’s athletics at the University of Oklahoma, but basketball is our main focus,” Pointer said in a lunch interview. “We want to be mentors.”

Recently, the Stilettos went bowling with the young players, giving them an opportunity to talk to professional women about what they need to do to be a success in the business world when their athletic careers are over.

They also work together volunteering at the Salvation Army.

Pointer stressed the Stilettos are careful to keep the rules the NCAA has set for any meetings of student-athletes and boosters. They do not spend any money on the young women and meet them only in sanctioned events.

In a role reversal, the athletes will teach Stiletto members how to play basketball.

Pointer, who is of average height, laughs when she recalls how excited the players are about this event, which is scheduled for March.

The Stilettos are unique among college athletic programs. The nearly 150 members meet regularly and host all kinds of events, including pre- and post-game get-togethers. Most either begin or end with a meet-and-greet card exchange sessions where both members and student-athletes can network while chatting about career advice, internships and job opportunities.

They pay dues that go toward scholarships and their events.

The Stilettos’ recently held “Making Crimson Connections: From College to Career,” for student-athletes at the end of January.

Pointer is excited to talk about the Stilettos.

“I like that the youth today is 50 percent of our population but 100 percent of our future” she said. “We need to invest our time because they are the future of our city, our state, our nation.”

“These are women who are successful and driven. The pour zest into everything they do, passing on their energy and passion and we feel it on the court,” Coale said. “And as far as support, they turn out in droves to support us, they really follow us.”

Pointer’s face lit up as she spoke about the help they are able to give to student-athletes and wants everyone to know membership is open to all, including men.

Members come from all levels of society, and include Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Yvonne Kauger and OU head football coach Bob Stoops.

Stilettos are not a requirement to join the organization. Pointer wore low heals the day of the interview, and in her official portrait as president, she is wearing hot pink athletic shoes.

Want to join Sooner Stilettos? Contact the OU Women’s Basketball Office at (405) 325-8322 or the group’s Facebook page.

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