Tina Charles of the Connecticut Sun, the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2012, have been selected as the state’s female athlete of the year by the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance.
She will be honored at the 72nd annual Gold Key dinner on April 28 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. Charles, who helped the Connecticut Sun capture the 2012 Eastern Conference regular season title, will receive the Hank O’Donnell Female Athlete of the Year Award.
Gold Key winners that will be honored are former NBA player Mike Gminski, E.O. Smith boys soccer coach John Blomstrann, UConn field hockey coach Nancy Stevens, Staples cross country and track coach John “Laddie” Lawrence and former New Haven College basketball star Gary Liberatore.
Charles, a former UConn player, enjoyed her best season as a professional in 2012 when she averaged 18.0 points and 10.5 rebounds, both team highs, while leading the Sun to a 25-9 record, the Eastern Conference crown in the regular season and the WNBA conference finals in the playoffs.
She won her third consecutive WNBA rebounding title — every year she’s been in the league — while her 594 total points represented a new Connecticut single-season scoring record.
In addition to leading the league in double-doubles for the third straight year, the 6-foot-4 center became the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 1,000 career rebounds. She accomplished the feat in her 89th professional game, an 85-74 victory over the New York Liberty on Aug. 18, 2012 in which she had nine rebounds. The previous record was held by Yolanda Griffith, who reached 1,000 rebounds in her 92nd game.
It all added up to an MVP season for Charles,24, as she collected 25 of 41 first-place votes. She also earned All-WNBA First-Team honors for the second year in a row after being named to the second team in her 2010 Rookie of the Year season.
The WNBA wasn’t the only place Tina Charles shined in 2012. She was also a key member of the Olympic gold medal U.S. women’s basketball team which went a perfect 8-0 at the Summer Games in London. Charles was third on the team in scoring with 10.5 points a game, while her 59 rebounds and 7.4 rpg were a close second to team leader Candace Parker with 62 and 7.8.
The Sun made Charles the overall No. 1 pick in the 2010 WNBA draft and in her first season she set all-time league records for rebounds with 398 and double-doubles with 22. This came on the heels of an outstanding four-year career at UConn where she helped lead the Huskies to back to back undefeated national championships in 2009 and 2010. She was named the Final Four MOP as a junior in 2009 and the Big East Player of the Year as a senior in 2010.
A native of Jamaica, N.Y., Charles played at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, N.Y., where she was named the National Player of the Year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association after averaging 26.5 points, 14.8 rebounds and 5.2 blocked shots her senior year. She is currently playing for the Galatasaray Medical Park in the Turkish Women’s Basketball League.
Tickets to the 2013 Gold Key Dinner, which begins at 4 p.m., can be purchased by contacting either CSWA President George Albano of The (Norwalk) Hour at (203) 434-2320 or Vice President and Dinner Chairman Bob Ehalt of The New Haven Register at Ehalt.Bob@sbcglobal.net.