Teresa Edwards Narrates Her Remarkable Life and Career in New Audiobook
The five-time Olympian talks through all the highlights and challenges on her journey.
Every great career has bumps in the road. Some are larger or tougher to navigate than others, but all shape the journey in ways that are sometimes hard to explain.
For Teresa Edwards, the original GOAT of USA Basketball as the first four-time (then five-time) Olympic medalist — male or female — her travails in being selected to play in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games have stuck with her in a most unusual way.
Now, 25 years after the fact, the 57-year-old has detailed her journey in the audiobook “Black Gold,” available on Audible.com.
“It took me a long time,” said Edwards, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and one-time Olympic bronze medalist. “As you know, it’s a timepiece from ’96, and the process that kind of went into the team coming together, the nuances of the changes taking place in the game and really kind of like behind the scenes of what it was like for a player like myself.”
In the 2-hour, 31-minute story that Edwards narrates, the 2011 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee takes listeners through the last Olympic loss by the U.S. women at the 1992 Barcelona Games, then her adventure as a kid in Cairo, Georgia, the start of her basketball career — trying out for the middle school team behind her mother’s back, getting her first pair of Chuck Taylors — becoming a high school star with an undesired nickname and touching on her days as a collegian at the University of Georgia.
But the crux of the story is about the rocky road that would be her fourth Olympic Games in Atlanta.
“We all have a story, and it’s probably going to be very different as you listen to each and every one of us tell it from our perspective,” Edwards said of how each member of that 1996 team would remember that time. “Mine was just really different, and it was definitely without a doubt the most challenging Olympic Games I’ve ever played. Yet, I probably performed at the highest level, especially mentally.”
Already a three-time Olympian and co-captain of the team that played in Barcelona, Edwards was playing with a top Spanish team when she received a call from a friend in the U.S. who said she and roommate Katrina McClain, a fellow Olympian, were not going to be truly considered for the team that would play in Atlanta. Eventually, both would decide to participate in the trials in May 1995 at a former U.S. Army base, which was by then the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In less than an hour of being on-site, Edwards quickly realized the source of her anxiety: Tara VanDerveer. The revered Stanford coach was the Olympic coach after being in charge of the team that Edwards played on at the 1994 FIBA World Championship in Australia. That team was upset by Brazil 110-107 in the semifinals and came home with a bronze medal.
Edwards goes into a conversation with VanDerveer to try and find out what the issue was and possibly smooth things over, then team trust exercises where the two were paired up. Still, a rift existed and would not go away over the next 14 months during a 52-game exhibition schedule and then the Games, where the U.S. regained the gold medal — the first of the current seven straight golds.
As part of her way of coping with the stress, Edwards wrote down her feelings, a habit that began when she started playing professionally overseas following advice from one of her high school teachers and as professors at Georgia.
It was a laborious task to develop “Black Gold,” one that had many starts and stops over several years. She experienced different types of bias as she pitched her idea to publishers. Edwards paid a firm to write a pitch for her, then ripped that up and taught herself how to write her own proposal.
“It wasn’t easy to get people to actually buy into the fact that me as an athlete, Teresa Edwards, was actually writing her own book,” said Edwards, who published a traditional book, “Dream with Faith, Legacy Poetry,” in 2019. “I can actually write. Although I have a degree from the University of Georgia, it’s kind of hard to prove to people still that we are intellectual sources.”
She originally started pitching her story following the 2000 Sydney Games after winning her fourth gold medal, but deep down she knew it wasn’t complete, which is one reason it took so long for the book to come out.
“I knew I wanted to do it, because I didn't think anyone could tell my story where I would tell it,” Edwards said. “It was important that from that perspective, that I, being a voice and being a leader and captain on a lot of teams, that it was told in a proper perspective and in the way I wanted my voice to be heard. It took a long time mainly because I had to figure out how to craft it.”
The timing of the audiobook was big, too. It came out July 1, less than a month before the Tokyo Games began. With Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi on the precipice of joining her in becoming five-time Olympic medalists, Edwards — because of her one bronze medal — was worried about becoming a footnote after 20 years.
“It was rarely mentioned that I was there before them and having done it 20 years ago,” Edwards said. “So, I — as well as Amazon — was thinking this is a great time for the release.”
The production of the audiobook went pretty smoothly. She said it took two four-hour days to get through the story as well as corrections. Due to all of the media experience she had, narrating came naturally.
“I was not nervous at all,” Edwards said. “I'm very used to using my voice — speaking and talking and coaching and things of that nature — and just being an athlete as a whole you kind of get used to using your voice. I was actually excited to do it. I was in a room by myself with an audio guy ... it was a really unique process. I enjoyed it. I was able to be myself. It was really cool.”