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Dianne Nolan Making Headlines Again |


Fairfield women's basketball Head Coach Dianne Nolan accomplished something Sunday that was 27 years in the making: she became just the 28th coach in NCAA history to win her 500th game.

"It was very special. It was especially great to have it happen in New Jersey since I am a Jersey girl," said Nolan. "I love Bruce. We affectionately call New Jersey 'God's country' in circles around the team."

Nolan, a native of Gloucester City in southern New Jersey, is the first coach at Fairfield in any sport to achieve 500 wins. She was surrounded at center-court following the game by her parents, her husband, her sons and her team.

"I have been real blessed that they have been able to share every part of my career," Nolan said. "They are all a part of it. I have a great support system. That's how it all works having a family and this kind of job."

Growing up in "God's country," Nolan was surrounded by basketball from the beginning. Her mother was the girls' basketball coach for 36 years at Gloucester Catholic  High School. Her brother was a standout high school player who went on to play at Temple University in nearby Philadelphia.

"I grew up with the game," Nolan said. "My mother raised us and was able to be successful at the same time. She always treated her team like a family and that is what I try to do."

Today, Nolan juggles her work with her family. She has raised three sons while leading the Stags to 18 winning seasons, four NCAA tournament appearances, and one WNIT appearance. For her accomplishments, Nolan was recently inducted into the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

"My husband and sons have been unbelievable," said Nolan. "They have been very flexible and patient with the time and that has made all of the difference."

"It is always challenging, but you go with the flow. On thing I am most proud of is that no matter what, through pregnancies, you name it, I have never missed a game. I try to stay at a high energy level at all times."

That high energy level was one of the things that catapulted Nolan off the end of the bench as an athletic trainer at St. Francis of Brooklyn (now St. Francis of New York) and into the seat of head coach of the women's basketball team in 1974. Nolan enjoyed a 61-57 overall record and made three postseason appearances during her time as the head of the Terriers.

"As the athletic trainer, I always had to sit at the end of the bench," said Nolan. "But that wasn't for me, I knew then that I wanted to be at the front, teaching the game I love."

It wasn't until 1979 that Fairfield called, and Nolan jumped at the chance to coach at a place that she observed from afar while at the helm of St. Francis.

"We would always play Fairfield," said Nolan. "And I told myself, wow, there's a place that I could really see myself at. The rest is history."

And what a history it has been. In her time at Fairfield, Nolan has established a very successful program that has graduated all of its players.

"She's been a mentor to me," said Candice Lindsay '07. "She has taught us a lot of things that have helped make us better athletes and students."

Clare Faurote '06 agreed, "We are very proud to play for her. She gave us a great opportunity to come to Fairfield and play at a good school."

Nolan has gained recognition not only from the people immediately surrounding her but also from the observing public.

"One of the moments that I am most proud of is when we made the NCAA tournament (in 2001) as an at large," said Nolan. "It was real testament to how far we have come as a program when people notice your success and give you recognition for it. We gained a lot of notoriety for that and I was very proud."

That year's team finished 25-6, and while this year's squad does not have a gaudy record thus far, they are gearing up for a title run. With the win over Rider, Fairfield improved to 9-10 overall and 6-4 in MAAC play.

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