It’s Thursday, which means it is time for another edition of Throwback Thursday! Each week, we’re catching up with a Virginia alum to see what they have been up to. Last week, we talked to Brett Hughes from Virginia Lacrosse. He offered up an additional question for this week’s respondent (without knowing who it was), so look for that at the end!
This week, we talked to Women’s Basketball alumna Sharnee Zoll. A 2008 graduate, Zoll played for the Cavaliers under Debbie Ryan and was a two-time All-ACC honoree. She broke the ACC all-time assist record — which belonged to Virginia’s Dawn Staley at the time — with 785 over her career, and is currently second in that category (Notre Dame’s Lindsay Allen holds the record now with 841).
Let’s get to it!
Streaking the Lawn: So, what have you been up to since leaving school?
Sharnee Zoll: Right after graduation, I went on to play 11 years professionally in the WNBA (Minnesota Lynx, LA Sparks, and Chicago Sky) and in Europe (Romania, Turkey, and Poland). Last year, I officially retired and became an assistant coach at The University of Rhode Island. My head coach is Tammi Reiss, a Wahoo sister (‘92).
STL: If you could have been an athlete in another sport at Virginia, which would you choose, and would you be a starter?
SZ: I’m honestly not talented in any other sport but I would have loved to play lacrosse with Jessie Morgan and Amy Appelt. I probably would have just been cheering them on because I can’t play lacrosse but they made the game look exciting!
STL: What is your favorite UVA sports memory, either as a fan or a player?
SZ: As a player, my favorite memory would have to be breaking Dawn Staley’s UVA and ACC assist record. It was a goal of mine since the day I stepped foot on Grounds. My teammates and coaches helped me to make one of the best sports memories of my life!
As a fan, it is definitely UVA Football beating Florida State at home. I believe it was 2005. I remember our whole basketball team stormed the field and I almost got stiff armed by Bobby Bowden’s security. The atmosphere and excitement at Scott Stadium that day was incredible!
STL: What are you doing during this self-isolating period to stay busy/entertained?
SZ: There are a lot of Zoom calls and recruiting calls that are keeping me occupied haha. But to keep my mind and body on point, I’ve taken up learning a new language, learning how to cook (mostly with the instant pot haha), and jumping rope!
STL: Which coach or teacher had the greatest impact on you while at UVA?
SZ: By far, Coach Ryan has the biggest impact on me. She was like my second mom in so many facets of life! The values she helped to foster in my life were invaluable and integral to my success and to my growth as a young woman. I can never repay her for her grace, kindness, and respect for me during my college years.
STL: Do you have any career advice to current students or recent alumni?
SZ: My best advice would be: find your passion and pursue that with an extraordinary amount of courage, pride, and willingness to learn! The University is Virginia has equipped us with the skills and ability to succeed in this world and now it is your turn to soar and thrive in your own unique way!
STL: What do you see that current UVA student-athletes have on Grounds that you wish you had? (facilities, resources, coach)
SZ: I actually talk about this all the time, but the new dorms they have put up are unbelievable! When I came in all 1st year WBB players had to stay in Tuttle Dorms. It was a tradition dating back who knows how long and I believe the coaches wanted us to get mentally tougher by not having any air conditioning in our dorms.
STL: What is your favorite Charlottesville restaurant?
SZ: Mel’s Cafe on West Main Street is by far my favorite C’Ville restaurant!! I remember we would get Mel’s for team tailgates and those were some of the best days!
Guest question from Brett Hughes: What was it that made you decide to commit to UVA? Was it a visit, a call with a coach, or just the fact that it’s one of the best places on Earth to be a student-athlete?
SZ: Yes, it is indeed one of the best places on Earth to be a student-athlete and that was a major part in my decision making process. I was looking for a university that could challenge me academically and athletically. UVA did that and more.
Of course, the coaching staff played a big part as well. Coach Debbie Ryan was a point guard coach and all around basketball legend. She coached some of the best players to ever play this game and some of the best coaches in the world have been through Coach Ryan’s program as assistant coaches so in that aspect it was a no brainer for me!
Huge thanks to Sharnee for chatting! Stay tuned next week for another alum check-in!