Lakota legend takes over Florida State women’s basketball program

Brooke Wyckoff new head coach for the Seminoles

Twenty-five years later, Brooke Wyckoff remains amazed at how well the decision of a 16-year-old has worked out.

Wyckoff was a highly recruited Lakota High School basketball player who made official visits to Ohio State, Xavier and Clemson before accepting a scholarship offer from Florida State University.

The decision keeps paying off. Besides being named an All-American for the Seminoles and having her uniform number “21″ retired in her honor, Wyckoff returned to Tallahassee to work on coach Sue Semrau’s staff after playing professionally and serving as an assistant coach under Nikki Drew at Lakota East.

Wyckoff, who served as FSU’s interim coach when Semrau took a leave of absence during the 2020-2021 season and was the Seminoles’ associate head coach last season, was promoted to head coach on Tuesday following Semrau’s retirement.

“I still marvel at that,” Wyckoff, who turned 42 on Wednesday, said Friday morning from Tallahassee about making such a wise, life-altering decision at such a young age. “I didn’t know what I was doing. My parents weren’t very knowledgeable, like many parents back then. It was very confusing. I was a mess at the end. I was eager to get out of Ohio and use this opportunity to expand my horizons.

“It actually scares me. Things could have gone a lot different.”

“For me, it was expected,” Drew said on Thursday. “I’m not wowed by it, but it’s still awesome.”

Playing under coach Cindy Feltman at Lakota in the last years before the district split one high school into two, the 6-foot-1 Wyckoff was a first-team all-state pick as both a junior, when she averaged 13.9 points per game, and a senior, when she averaged 17.3 points per game. She led the Thunderbirds to three consecutive Greater Miami Conference championships. Wyckoff is a member of the Lakota District Athletic and Ohio Basketball halls of fame.

“I credit her with really so many things,” Wyckoff said about Feltman. “She gave me the opportunity. She saw me as a freshman and saw a future for me beyond Lakota. The first time I came into the program as a freshman, she saw more than just someone who was 6-1 she could stick on the low block. She said, ‘We’re going to put you on the wing.’ She believed in me as a freshman. She gave me experience on a veteran team. I loved her system. I loved going to practice. That was a springboard for me.”

Wyckoff’s Lakota success didn’t make her college decision any easier.

“What it came down to was an 11th-hour decision,” she recalled. “Florida State was building something. It wasn’t a good program at the time, but it was building. Everybody – different coaches, football players – made me feel like they wanted me there. They sold me on a vision. They were building something, and I wanted to be a part of that. I felt wanted by the people here.

“Tallahassee is a beautiful city, and Florida State is a great school,” Wyckoff added. “I loved the surroundings and the family atmosphere and how much they cared and wanted women’s basketball to be good.”

Combined ShapeCaption
Florida State's Brooke Wyckoff, left, tangles with Duke's Rochelle Parent (4) as they battle for a rebound during the first half Thursday, Feb. 8, 2001, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/Grant Halverson)

Credit: AP

Florida State's Brooke Wyckoff, left, tangles with Duke's Rochelle Parent (4) as they battle for a rebound during the first half Thursday, Feb. 8, 2001, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/Grant Halverson)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Florida State's Brooke Wyckoff, left, tangles with Duke's Rochelle Parent (4) as they battle for a rebound during the first half Thursday, Feb. 8, 2001, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/Grant Halverson)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

As a senior, Wyckoff led the Seminoles to a 19-12 record and a berth in the 2001 NCAA Tournament, FSU’s first appearance in 10 years. She averaged 14.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game from her power forward position and was one of the nation’s top defenders.

Wyckoff was a standout player in the WNBA for nine seasons. After retiring, she spent two seasons working with Drew at Lakota East before returning to Tallahassee. Drew recalls being impressed not only with Wyckoff’s contributions on court, but also with her ability to relate to players.

“I was coaching her younger sister, Whitney, and I knew she was coming back, so I thought, ‘Why not?’” Drew recalled. “I reached out to her, and she came on board. She didn’t big-time high school ball at all.”

Wyckoff, joined Semrau’s FSU staff for the 2011-2012 season. She was promoted in 2018 from assistant to associate head coach. As the 2020-2021 interim coach, she led a Seminoles team picked to finish eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference to a fourth-place finish and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Along the way, she navigated COVID-19 conditions that included 15 schedule changes and the loss of 65 percent of the team’s scoring from the season prior, as well as being the only team in the nation to play a schedule consisting of all Power 5 opponents. She earned ESPNW National Coach of the Week honors after leading FSU to a win over No. 3 Louisville in the regular season.

“Brooke has the qualities that make a successful head coach and I am very excited about the future of our program,” FSU vice president and director of athletics Michael Alford said when announcing Wyckoff’s promotion. “She has been a very important member of our staff over this historic period which established our basketball program as a perennial NCAA Tournament team and ACC title contender.

“She brings great energy and enthusiasm to the position. She is excellent at building relationships with her players. It is a great day for our women’s basketball program.”

“It is hard to put into words what a humbling honor it is to be the next head coach at Florida State,” Wyckoff said. “When I stepped onto campus as a student-athlete 25 years ago, Coach Sue took me under her wing and showed me what it means to build something impactful and lasting here at Florida State. “It is my great honor to be a part of the legacy of excellence at this university and with a program with a tradition built over the years. It is truly a full-circle moment for me and I am committed to serving our current and future players, alumni, community and university to the best of my ability every single day.”

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Florida State interim head coach Brooke Wyckoff calls to her team as they compete against Oregon State during the first half of a college basketball game in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament at the University Events Center in San Marcos, Texas, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Stephen Spillman)

Credit: Stephen Spillman

Florida State interim head coach Brooke Wyckoff calls to her team as they compete against Oregon State during the first half of a college basketball game in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament at the University Events Center in San Marcos, Texas, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Stephen Spillman)

Credit: Stephen Spillman

Combined ShapeCaption
Florida State interim head coach Brooke Wyckoff calls to her team as they compete against Oregon State during the first half of a college basketball game in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament at the University Events Center in San Marcos, Texas, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Stephen Spillman)

Credit: Stephen Spillman

Credit: Stephen Spillman

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