The Ivy Influence: Allison Feaster-Strong
DID YOU KNOW? Allison Feaster-Strong led
16th-seeded Harvard to an upset win over top-seeded Stanford in the
first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament, marking the only time a
No. 16 seed has ever beaten a No. 1 seed in the history of the NCAA
Men's or Women's Division I Basketball Championships.
Under the tutelage of head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, Feaster-Strong embarked on a phenomenally successful collegiate career. Her impact was immediate, as she averaged 17.0 points per game and led the Ivy League in rebounding during her freshman season. She was an honorable-mention All-American and a unanimous choice for Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
The following three years, Feaster-Strong led the team to three consecutive Ivy crowns and the NCAA Tournament appearances that accompanied them. These were the first-ever 'Big Dance' invitations for the Harvard women's squad, which capped its three-year run in the tournament in history-making fashion. Led by Feaster-Strong's dominating 35-point, 13-rebound performance in the opening round of the 1998 tourney, the 16th-seeded Crimson pulled off an implausible upset of the top-seeded Stanford Cardinal.
The team lost its second-round game, but the stunning victory over Stanford was a fitting end to Feaster-Strong's amazing Ivy League career, in which she averaged a double-double (21 points, 10 rebounds). On the strength of those stats she became the first women's basketball player in Ivy League history to reach 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She was a first-team All-Ivy selection each year, only the fourth woman to achieve that feat. And she was chosen Ivy League Player of the Year in each of her final three seasons, becoming the first Ivy League athlete in any sport, men's or women's, to be dually honored as a three-time Ivy League Player of the Year and as an Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
As most would expect of such a talented player, Feaster-Strong has gone on to a successful career as a professional basketball player. She chose to follow her hoop dreams despite other opportunities. During spring of her senior year, prior to the NCAA Tournament, the economics major was interviewing with top financial firms for a career on Wall Street. Although she successfully landed some impressive job offers, the best one was proffered by the Los Angeles Sparks when they selected her with the fifth overall pick in the 1998 WNBA draft.
Despite some setbacks because of injuries, Feaster-Strong has had a rewarding 13-year career playing professional basketball on both sides of the Atlantic. In the WNBA she played in Los Angeles for three seasons before being traded to the Charlotte Sting, with whom she played for six seasons. During that time, she blossomed into an All-Star, leading the league in three-pointers in 2002.
After the Sting folded in 2007, Feaster-Strong moved on to the Indiana Fever, where she played for one season.
Overseas, Feaster-Strong played in Portugal for one year before settling in France for a six-year stint with Valenciennes. During that time she helped lead the team to the French and Euro League titles in 2004. She and her husband, former North Carolina State basketball player Doug Strong, live in Lille, France, and were both naturalized as French citizens. Strong has also enjoyed an overseas career, playing for teams in France and Italy.
Feaster-Strong currently plays for Perfumerias Avenida in Salamanca, Spain.