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.
During her UConn career (2006-10) no one worked harder to earn Geno Auriemma’s faith than Meghan Gardler. The daughter of Auriemma’s high school coach, he knew her from the day she was born, but didn’t stop Geno from pushing her as hard as anyone else.
“During my four years at UConn, there were many memorable moments that occur with the coaching staff and with your teammates. Being away from home for the first time is hard on a lot of the girls and it was especially hard on me, but coach and Mrs. Auriemma having us over to their house for BBQs and dinners always helped alleviate that homesickness.
“My personal favorite dinner, and definitely one that stands out in my mind, was the election of our current President Barack Obama. Coach had the team over to watch as the poll results came in, and we sat around eating pepperoni rolls waiting to hear.
“After Obama was officially declared President, I just remember the feeling of excitement and joy that Coach and many of my teammates expressed. Coach said that this was a moment in history that we would never forget, and that now we just need to keep winning so we can meet the first African American President at the end of the season. Luckily enough, that’s exactly what happened.”