The pro basketball dreams for Nia Coffey and her siblings all started years ago while spending long hours training together with their father in a gym at Grace Church in Eden Prairie.
"We spent a lot of time in the gym," former Gophers and NBA player Richard Coffey said. "They sacrificed a lot."
On Thursday night, Gophers freshman Amir Coffey cheered from his living room as he watched his sister achieve her goal of being drafted by the WNBA – being picked No. 5 by the San Antonio Stars.
“Our father and our mom always told us to have big dreams and that no dream is too big,” Amir said about the advice given to him, Nia and his oldest sister, Sydney. “We would talk about it and believe we could make it there someday, if we put the work in. Obviously, that hard work pays off as you can tell tonight.”
Nia Coffey was a standout player at Hopkins and earned All-Big Ten honors at Northwestern for four years. The 6-foot-1 forward is the school’s all-time rebounding leader and was the fifth women’s player in conference history to have 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.
Attending the draft in New York City, Nia talked about the advice her father gave her about playing at the next level.
”Just have heart, be tough, do what you can and everything will fall into place,” she told ESPN's Holly Rowe. “I feel like I can play multiple positions, whether I’m on the wing or on the block. I’m able to stretch the floor and put pressure on defenses. Hopefully, I can do that for San Antonio.”
It was only a few months ago when Amir, a 6-8 guard from Hopkins, was leading the Gophers to a victory at Northwestern with his sister cheering him on from the crowd. He’s been one of her biggest fans in college as well. And it’ll be the same now that Nia’s taking her game to the WNBA.
“We could tell she was on a mission to do something special,” Amir Coffey said. “She had a great four years and played to the best of her ability and really opened people’s eyes (at Northwestern). So we had no doubt in our mind that her dreams would come true.”
What about Amir Coffey's NBA dreams? Can he learn from his sister's path to the league.
"It is a little bit of a different process," he said. "But it has its similarities from a workout standpoint and from a communication standpoint with the teams. So I can definitely take some pointers and tips from what she just went through these past couple weeks."