Starzz of yesteryear

Unless it’s a dramatic story about a star who ended up homeless, like former MLB pitcher J.R. Richard, I’m not always interested in where-are-they-now pieces.

But I stumbled across these tidbits as I was looking up something else. I read a pair of stories on prominent members of the Utah Starzz (RIP), a team that made a bump in the Utah sports landscape from 1997-2002, before relocating to San Antonio.

The basketball wasn’t great. Anyone who says they played better “fundamental” basketball than the NBA doesn’t watch much basketball. And it was a lot slower and earthbound than the NBA.

At the same time, I liked covering them because they were happy for the publicity and accommodating in interviews.

The players I recently read about were Jennifer Azzi and Tammi Reiss, two of the Starzz’s most visible personalities.

JENNIFER AZZI

Azzi is now in her second year at the University of San Francisco as the team’s head coach. Her team is 1-10 so far this year, having lost the last eight. Yup. A rebuilding project. Her team went 4-25 last season, her first with the Dons.

The 43-year-old Azzi admits her current players are far more informed about NBA players than WNBA stars such as their own coach.

“Some of them need some education, which is typical in women’s sports,” Azzi told the Seattle Times. “I’ll ask any girl athlete who their favorite player is, and it’s always Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. It’s never a woman athlete. Our game is still kind of young for that.”

TAMMI REISS

Meanwhile, Azzi’s former teammate, Tammi Reiss, is an assistant coach at San Diego State. She was hired in April by head coach Beth Burns.

If you thought you had seen Reiss around Salt Lake, you did. Until recently she was the personal training director at Gold’s Gym and an operations manager for ProTech in the Salt Lake City area. Reiss has also started two basketball-related businesses, Hoop Dream, Inc., and T & R Management.

This year’s Aztecs are 5-4, having lost their last three.

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