Officer Berry Has a New Beat


“Hey, you kids-- you pay for that stuff?”

Caught in the act. Two 14-year-old boys, laughing as they ran, burst from the convenience store, ill-gotten gains bundled under their jackets.

The police car, when the 911 call came in, was only a block away. The officer saw the two run into an alley.

The teens were really in trouble now. In hot pursuit, on foot, was a very fit cop--6-foot-3 Shanda Berry, today a forward for the ABL’s New England Blizzard.


This was last off-season in Wheaton, Md., where Berry is a police officer.

“I started running after them,” she said, recalling the episode recently.

“There were a series of seven-foot chain-link fences in the alley, and the kids were going over them, dropping all their goods as they went.

“I think I went over three fences before I ran them down and handcuffed them. If there’d been one more fence, I wouldn’t have caught them. Luckily, they were more exhausted than I was.”

Basketball, and the bigger game of life:

When a man ran out of a bank in Wheaton with $27,000 in a bag, she was first to the scene, coordinating a successful pursuit with dogs and helicopters.

Then there was the tragic bar “disturbance” call, a year ago.


An innocent bystander, caught in a beef between two men, was shoved. He fell, suffered a head injury, and died. With him that night, celebrating their 21st birthday: His twin brother.

“I’ll never forget that,” she said. “It was so sad . . . and we never caught the suspect.”

Berry, 30, onetime standout at Iowa, had played pro ball five years in Japan, Spain and Sweden when she packed it in.

“I felt like I’d had enough basketball, that it was time to get a real job,” she said.

“I’d been interested in law enforcement, so I entered police academy training.”

Then, over a few months in 1995, America went from no women’s pro basketball leagues to two.

She got six months’ leave in each of the last two years to compete in the ABL, “but I probably won’t ask for another one,” said Berry, who averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds this season, starting 16 of 44 games.

“The league is doing so much better than last year. . . . I’d feel comfortable now, leaving my police job and playing full time.”


The WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks lost 6-5 backup center Heidi Burge in the league’s expansion draft Wednesday, held to stock new teams Detroit and Washington.

Washington picked Burge, with the second pick of the eight selections. The first choice, by Detroit, was New York Liberty guard Rhonda Blades.

Burge, 27, had previously said she wanted to play for the Mystics, along with her twin sister, Heather, now playing in France. The two grew up in Palos Verdes and played college basketball at Virginia.

“We’re ready to be a package deal again.”

Burge averaged four points and 3.1 rebounds last season, appearing in 22 games.


Michelle Marciniak of the ABL’s Philadelphia Rage underwent surgery last Thursday for removal of a benign tumor from her breast. . . . Olympian Carla McGhee of the Columbus Quest delivered a 7-pound, 14-ounce boy recently named Chancellor Lloyd Anderson. . . . ABL attendance has surged since the Super Bowl and finished up 21% over last season. New England was the runaway leader, 8,857 per game, and Long Beach the league laggard, 2,117. ABL average: 4,352. Atlanta, next-to-last a year ago, jumped 1,100 per game to fifth (3,898), even with a bad team (15-29).