“It was clear that we all better listen closely to what she had to say. From the very beginning he had his eye on that prize – he worked at it from the moment his feet landed on the UConn campus. His focus and determination to take an unknown program with a history of losing seasons, to a National Championship team was his singular, unrelenting mission. He knew where he wanted to take the UConn women’s basketball program He was clearly dedicated to seeing it through.”
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.
In Aureimma’s first year (1985-86) he inherited a team that included many veterans, but also welcomed two walk-ons, Lynne Reif and, in 1986-87, Diane Madl.
Reif, who appeared in just eight games that season, will never forget the experience of being there at the start.
“Diane Madl was also a member of the UConn women’s field hockey team, which had just won a National Championship [in 1985].
” We were in the locker room, after a less-than-wonderful practice — and Coach Auriemma was not pleased.
”He looked around at all of us with that laser-sharp focus. He looked Diane in the eye and pointedly asked, ”Diane… what does it take to win a National Championship? What does it take to be a national championship team???