Thursday, June 30, 2016

Welcome To Princeton Carla Tagliente

Was Pat Summitt really just 22 when she became the head women's basketball coach at Tennessee?

Maybe in 1974, Tennessee really didn't care all that much about who coached the "girls."

If you think women's athletics, and especially women's college basketball, have always been what they are now, they haven't. Pat Summitt did as much to change that as anyone.

No, actually let TigerBlog change that. Pat Summitt did more to change that than anyone.

Summitt died Tuesday at the age of just 64. She had to leave coaching at Tennessee in 2012, after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.

By then, she had amassed a record of 1,098-208, with eight NCAA championships and 16 SEC championships.

Anyone can have big numbers. Not anyone can take the lead in changing an athletic culture.

Tennessee was the first women's basketball team - or team in general - to develop a mainstream fan base with a serious number of male fans. You can't draw as many people to an arena the size of Tennessee's with just women. And this was in SEC football country.

Today it's taken for granted that women's teams are treated equally with men's teams. And while there isn't the equal balance between male and female fans of women's teams, there are teams like the U.S. women's national soccer team or UConn women's basketball that have strong male followings.

Hey, here at Princeton, the women's basketball team has cultivated a solid male backing in the last half a decade.

Pat Summitt wasn't always the easiest to root for, with her glaring ways and her overwhelming intensity. On the other hand, she also made it okay for women to have that level of intensity, which is something that wasn't the case before she came along. Or if it was okay, she brought it to the forefront, at the signature program for her sport for decades.

As TB said, basically everything about women's athletics today feels the influence of Pat Summitt. That, way beyond her championships, is her legacy.

The entire culture of women's athletics is different, across every sport. It's no longer about the idea that Title IX means that women get to have nice uniforms too. It's about competing as hard as you can, without having to apologize for being women.

That has a lot to do with Pat Summitt.

Meanwhile, the latest addition to the Princeton Athletics coaching staff is Carla Tagliente, who was named the head coach of field hockey yesterday.

Tagliente comes to Princeton from UMass, where she led the Minutewomen to a 64-44 record, including 30-6 in the Atlantic 10, which she dominated. Her team has played in three of the last four NCAA tournaments, and UMass won a first-round game over Virginia in 2013.

Now she steps into the head coaching spot at Princeton.

She is the third person to be the Princeton head coach in the last 29 years. Her two immediate predecessors put up some gigantic numbers.

Beth Bozman went 188-73 in her 15 seasons as the head coach. She took Princeton to the NCAA Final Four three times and the NCAA championship game twice.

Kristen Holmes-Winn went 164-80 in her 13 seasons at Princeton. She reached two Final Fours, and in 2012 she won it all, as Princeton became the only Ivy League team to win a national championship.

When Bozman won the 1994 Ivy League title, it started Princeton on a run of 20 Ivy titles in 21 years. Princeton field hockey is one of the Ivy League's all-time greatest dynasties.

Now it's Tagliente's program. Her resume is wildly impressive.

She was an unquestionably great player at Maryland before graduating in 1999. She won an NCAA title as a Terrapin - Testudo is the name of the mascot by the way - and she graduated as the school's all-time leader in goals and points.

She also played for the U.S. national team a total of 78 times.

Academically, she was a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-America (1999-2001), including a first-team pick in her final two seasons, and was selected for the 2001 Atlantic Coast Conference's prestigious Weaver-James-Corrigan Postgraduate Scholarship in addition to graduating Summa Cum Laude. And that was with a major of finance and marketing; she actually gave the commencement address for Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. She then earned an MBA with high distinction from the Ross School of Business while an assistant coach at Michigan.

Her resume also includes a stop at Iowa, where she was an assistant. It was there that Holmes-Winn played and started her coaching career. TigerBlog takes that as a good sign.

He takes it as a better sign that she's done so well at UMass. And has a background that suggests she understands the value of the overall educational experience that Princeton Athletics stresses.

And, though TB hasn't met her yet, he's guessing she's pretty competitive.

All in all, it looks like Princeton field hockey is in good hands.

Welcome to Princeton, Carla Tagliente.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For the record, Tigers went to Final Four twice under Kristen 2012 when they won, and in 2009 at Wake Forest when they lost to Maryland 7-5 in the National Semifinal.