by Diane VanDyke
Montgomery County Community College is pleased to announce that alumnus Geno Auriemma, head coach of the women’s basketball team for the University of Connecticut, received the 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award from the American Association for Community Colleges (AACC) on April 8, 2014, during the 2014 Annual AACC Convention inWashington D.C.
Auriemma was unable to personally attend the ceremony because the UConn’s women’s basketball team again made it to the Final Four of the National Championship and played against Notre Dame in Nashville, Tenn., during the evening of April 8. The team went on to win its ninth national title.
“From his humble beginnings in Norristown throughout his coaching career, Geno has persistently pushed to achieve the best for the players he coaches and for himself and has redefined the meaning of success in college women’s basketball,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, MCCC president, who accepted the award on his behalf. “His success story and his continual achievements, both on and off the court, serve as an inspiration for all, and particularly for community college students who are starting at the same place he did.”
When he was seven years of age, Auriemma immigrated with his family to Norristown, Pa., where he grew up and attended Bishop Kenrick High School. Following graduation, he enrolled at Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell. During his time at MCCC from 1972-1975, he played on the basketball and tennis teams. He also met his wife, Kathryn Osler, at MCCC, and they were married in 1978. He subsequently completed his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1981 at West Chester University, Pa. Following his passion for sports, he landed his first coaching job as an assistant girls’ basketball coach at Bishop McDevitt High School in Cheltenham Township, Pa.
Auriemma started his college coaching career in 1978 when he was hired as an assistant women’s coach at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pa. He returned to his high school alma mater to coach from 1979-81 and then coached at the University of Virginia from 1981-85. In 1985, he was hired by the University of Connecticut, and in 1995, the team won the first national championship and then proceeded to win the NCAA title seven more times.
In 2006, Coach Auriemma was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Tenn., and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Mass. In 2007, he was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. He was named U.S. Basketball Writers Association National Coach of the Year in 1995, 2003, 2008 and 2009. In 2010, he shared the Big East Conference Coach of the Year award with Mike Carey of West Virginia, and in 2011, he won the award again. In 2013, he received the Winged Foot Award by the New York Athletic Club for winning the Division I National Championship.
In 2010, Auriemma coached the U.S. women to gold at the World Championships, and in 2012, he led the women’s U.S. National Team to gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. This summer, Auriemma will be coaching the U.S. women’s team again at the 2014 World Championships in Turkey, where a title would qualify the team for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Beyond coaching, Auriemma has authored a book with the Boston Globe’s Jackie MacMullen, “Geno. In Pursuit of Perfection.” Additionally, he owns several restaurants in Connecticut, including Geno’s Fast Break and a new Geno’s Grille.
He has served on several boards, including Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc., Kay Yow/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Cancer Fund, American Heart Association, Why-Me of New England and the Connecticut Arthritis Foundation. As a motivational speaker, Auriemma often speaks to groups across the country, sharing words of encouragement “to be great at what you do.”