Geno Auriemma coaches his 1,000th game at UConn on Feb. 22 at Houston. To commemorate the milestone, the Hartford Courant will occasionally publish a memory or remembrance of the Hall of Fame coach from someone who helped play a role in his journey.
No one has seen more of the world than Carol Callan, the manager of USA Basketball’s various women’s basketball programs. Callan and Auriemma will share their second World Championship and Olympiad together later this year and in 2016..
“At the 1993 Olympic Festival in San Antonio, I was involved with USA Basketball as a volunteer committee member representing the NFHS (National High School Federation),” Callan said. “Geno was the head coach of the West team and we began a conversation in the arena away from the court. It was the most amazing thing; he acted as if we had been friends for a long time and he was dialed in to the conversation regardless of the hectic environment going on around us.
“It didn’t matter if his game was up next, he genuinely was curious about everything, never gave the impression of being rushed for time, never looked around for more important people to see and spent a long time talking about more than basketball.
“Even today, over-scheduled and a celebrity, I have seen him stop on the street to talk to a stranger who happens to recognize him. He treats everyone the same from the lowly staffer to the corporate executive. He has a genuine interest and curiosity in everyone he meets. Some things never change.”