Former NC State basketball, Charlotte Sting star finishes degree after 33 years

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-area native Andrea Stinson has received quite a few accolades throughout her career: North Carolina State University basketball star, founding member of the Charlotte Sting, and Hall of Famer.

But there’s one thing Stinson hadn’t done until last week.

“This is something that has always been on my back,” she told Channel 9′s DaShawn Brown.

Stinson’s career dates back to high school. She is a graduate of North Mecklenburg High School in Huntersville, going on to NC State where she was a two-time All American. She headed to the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting, where she became the first player in franchise history to have her jersey retired.

“For me, playing the game of basketball, it was not work,” Stinson told Brown. “It was joy, pure joy.”

With her career at the forefront for years, one goal faded into the background.

More than 30 years ago, Stinson left NC State to go pro. She was just one year shy of earning her degree, and she promised herself, family, and favorite teachers from middle school that she’d go back to finish one day.

“I was at Newton-Conover coaching high school and my friend Richard Morgan -- he stayed in contact with me, he played at Virginia when I was at NC state,” she said. “He kept contacting me to be his assistant coach and go back to school, and just come and get my degree.”

“He kept calling me and bugging me for like three or four years, and then finally I said ‘let’s do this.’”

Fast forward to this past year, when Stinson held two roles: An assistant basketball coach at Bluefield University, and college senior.

“It was an awesome experience because I went to class with my players,” she said. “So, you know, I’m in class with them and they’re scared to miss class because Ms. Stinson is in the class with me, but I was in class as a student.”

“I had a little ‘scared-ness’ there a little,” she said. “Can I really do this and finish?”

But 33 years after she started her degree, she did finish.

“I’m 56 years old and I graduated last Saturday with my bachelor’s,” Stinson said. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes, it’s just finishing the race.”

“I would do it all over again the same way.”

(WATCH BELOW: Former pro basketball player raises thousands for Charlotte charity by running Boston Marathon)