Last February, Carolyn Swords wrapped up her ten-year WNBA career a few months after losing in the WNBA Semifinals with the Los Vegas Aces. The 31-year old Swords had joined the Aces front office as the team’s marketing specialist.
In the Aces press release announcing the hiring in February, Las Vegas specified that Swords role would be to, “support the implementation of marketing plans for Aces games and other events; work with all aspects of in-game entertainment including the mascot and dance team; and collaborate with media relations, social media, graphic design, corporate partnerships and other internal departments in executing Aces marketing initiatives.”
Had the COVID-19 pandemic not been a thing, Swords would still be in her front-office role and enjoying the fruits of retirement from professional basketball. However, after backup center JiSu Park decided to stay in South Korea for the 2020 season, the Aces needed a center.
In a media availability before the 2020 WNBA Finals, Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer told Sports Are From Venus:
“We needed bigs [laughs]. Everyone abandoned us.”
With Park and 6’8 star Liz Cambage opting out of the 2020 season, the Aces asked Swords if she wanted to come out of retirement to be the backup center in Las Vegas.
The 6’6 Swords agreed to come back for the 2020 season in the bubble. For one more year, the Aces needed her on the court more than they needed her in the front office.
Swords told Sports Are From Venus what it was like to come out of retirement and start playing basketball again.
“I had to adapt my workout schedule and the workouts that I was doing to make sure that I got back on the court. Especially during the pandemic where we had to make sure we were doing that safely was certainly an adjustment. I had gone from being able to run and walk and lift on my own and go for runs outside to needing to prepare to play post defense, and that’s a different type of mindset and awareness in my workout. It was an adjustment, one that I was happy to make, and I was excited to get back on the court with my teammates.”
Swords spent three months in the Aces front office before getting back onto the court in May. Swords told Sports Are From Venus about her brief tenure in the front office.
“I absolutely learned from my experience in the front office. I got to see all of the great work and begin to take part in great work that our business staff does a day in and day out. Even in the offseason helping to celebrate our team and what’s going on in the city about the players and everything. Even though it was brief, it was a lot of fun and I’m really proud of our whole organization and their ability to make this franchise feel special.”
Swords started 21 out of 22 games for the Aces in 2020 playing 17.5 minutes a night on the floor. Swords averaged 2.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game with a .460 FG% while playing behind A’ja Wilson this season.
With Swords’ low-post defense and rebounding on the roster, the Aces have made it all the way to the WNBA Finals. Coach Laimbeer told SAFV about Swords’ performance this season.
“We got Carolyn to come back and she’s done a yeomen job, she’s a professional basketball player. You’re not going to see great stat lines from her, but Game 5 (of the Semifinals) was a wonderful game for her. She was getting all of the big rebounds and played solid team defense. Without her, we would be in a world of hurt.”
At the age of 31 coming out of retirement, Swords can win her first Finals championship in the WNBA. After playing with the Chicago Sky, New York Liberty, Seattle Storm, and Aces over her 10-year career, she is in her first Finals.
Coach Laimbeer spoke about Swords’ role for the Aces during the WNBA Finals.
“In this series, she is going to be the biggest player on the floor. She will make her presence felt from that. She’s a smart team defender which is what we need against the Seattle Storm.”
Hopefully after Swords win her first championship she will return to her career in a WNBA front office.
Swords and the Las Vegas Aces play the Seattle Storm in the WNBA Finals starting Friday, October 2 on ABC(WatchESPN).
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(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)