From the Bayou to the Beach, the Heatwave is on in South Florida

by Greg Cobb

In the spring of 2002, Claudene Gooden had just finished her collegiate basketball career at the University of New Orleans and her love for the game wasn't going to just allow her to retire to the sidelines and a desk job. 

Gooden's ambition was to keep playing, but without the WNBA around, opportunities to prolong her basketball career at the professional level were limited. While some players found work in Europe, others went on to play locally in Rec leagues and tournaments. Gooden, though, still had other plans. She formed an alliance with fellow alumni from UNO and Cassandra Johnson, the two worked to put together a team that would waves in the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League's (WBCBL) national tournaments. The league, formed in 2002 by Mr. Willie McCrary, is now the WBDA. 

Then, in 2005, real life happened. Gooden and her husband added to their family. Of course, Hurricane Katrina arrived to terrorize the Gulf Coast causing billions in damages throughout the region. Normal routine had been turned upside-down. 

Fast-forward to 2018: It's 13 years later and Gooden is sitting in her office a mere 13 hours east of New Orleans, reminiscing about the old days, 

"We would just enter teams in tournaments. Find pick-up games. There was no league like today's WNBA. And with the kids, and Katrina, life just brought us this way."

When Dr. McCrary retired the WBCBL after this past season, Gooden jumped at the chance to bring the Heatwave organization into the newly-formed WBDA. The relationships that had been built and the base for the league were solid. 

"When (Grand Rapids Galaxy owner) William (Kelly) stepped up to take the reins and turn the WBCBL into the WBDA, I felt confident we'd succeed as a league. Having the Riviera Beach City Council on our side proved to be key (in securing our position during open enrollment). Terrance Davis went out of his way to help bring women's basketball to South Florida."

-Claudene Gooden, Heatwave head coach

Because Gooden has her eyes on a WBDA Championship. The roster is filled with Florida-based Division-1 talent. 

Visit the team's website to keep up-to-date on player news and more @

Connect with Claudene via LinkedIn.