And Sloan Green bought into the comparison, not in the poetry Angelou gave to the world, but in the kindness she has shown to Philadelphia for more than 30 years at Temple University.
"Maya Angelou, huh?" Sloan Green said with a chuckle. "I think she made people feel good. It's not about how much money you have, it's how you make people feel. And if teaching [kids] to play lacrosse or helping them learn tennis has made them feel good, then that makes me feel good."
Sloan Green, 70, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philadelphia Sports Congress for her work with the Black Women in Sports Foundation and at Temple.
She was the women's lacrosse coach at Temple from 1973 to 1992 where she won three NCAA championships with 11 straight Final Four appearances, while amassing a 207-62-4 career coaching record as the first African-American head coach in women's lacrosse history.
Her work as a coach led her to teaching, co-authoring two books and working on the BWSF after being inducted into several halls of fame. The BWSF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase the involvement of black women and girls in all aspects of sport, with a focus on those in schools in disenfranchised neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area.
But it was when she had her first taste of success, in coaching, that she found another calling for her at Temple: her desire for education.
"When I won my national championship, the president [of Temple University] asked me what I wanted," Sloan Green said. "I told him I wanted to be a full-time professor; that was my wish. I believe in education. I think it is transformational, and sports are transformational, and the two together, you can't beat it."
And excellence in education was never a foreign concept for Sloan Green, even in her childhood. She grew up in the city's Elmwood neighborhood and attended Girls High School before going to West Chester State University, now West Chester University.
But it was her undying resolve to change athletics that left her a legacy at Temple, a determination that started at her home in Elmwood.
"I grew up in a family that was a tight-knit community; my parents had values," Sloan Green said. "It was a great community, because people gave, and you were expected to give. My parents never went to college, and they wanted to make sure that we went to college. It was an expectation that after you [make it], you have to get give back. I said in the back of my mind that one day, one day, [Temple] will be different."
Her unyielding determination to change athletics in Philadelphia for women and minorities across the area is respected by her students.
As a professor of culture and sport in Temple's College of Education, she teaches the popular "Racism in Athletics" class, in which she shares her vision.
From the emerald athletic fields of Temple University to streets around the Wanamaker Building, Sloan Green has become more than a Hall of Fame coach; she has had what CBS3 sports anchor Beasley Reece called a "Hall of Fame life."
"This award is symbolic of the power of education and sport," Sloan Green said, her award firmly in her hand, her glasses nearly sliding off her face.
"Who would have ever thought this little black girl from Elmwood would be able to achieve so much?"
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