Dartmouth women's basketball legend Wielgus steps down
In her own special way, Chris Wielgus didn't want to make a big fuss. After all, what's the big deal about coaching women's basketball for 30 years, right?
But as an "iconic figure at Dartmouth College," as athletic director Harry Sheehy aptly put it, Wielgus' resignation announcement Tuesday is a big deal.
"Chris is Dartmouth College women's basketball and her record speaks for itself," said Sheehy.
Wielgus was said to be too emotional to speak with the media Tuesday, but make no mistake: She etched her named into just about every category in school history and, as Sheehy said, "she's leaving some very big shoes to fill."
In 28 total seasons at Dartmouth, Wielgus amassed an overall record of 393-342 with 12 Ivy League championships.
She had two separate coaching tenures at Dartmouth.
Wielgus arrived at the Hanover campus before the 1976-77 season and it didn't take her long to turn the Big Green into a perennial league champion. She guided Dartmouth to four consecutive Ivy crowns (1980-83) and her '83 team earned the first-ever Ivy League bid to the NCAA Tournament.
She left after the 1983-84 campaign and returned nine years later to Hanover. She showed she still had the winning formula the second time around, winning the league title in the 1993-94 and '94-95 seasons, with the latter team producing another appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
More Ivy League titles were added to the trophy case as Dartmouth earned two more berths (1998-99, '99-2000) to the NCAA Tournament. From 2004-05 through 2008-09, Wielgus led Dartmouth to the postseason while earning four more Ivy crowns along the way.
In between coaching stints at Dartmouth, Wielgus served as head coach at Fordham for two seasons (1991-93), compiling a 37-21 record with a Patriot League championship. In 30 total seasons, Wielgus walks away owning a 430-363 overall record. She is the winningest basketball coach, for men or women, at Dartmouth.
"She didn't decide to resign until late this season," said Sheehy. "When she made it official, she looked at me and said 'it's been a great run.' And it certainly was."
Sheehy agreed that Wielgus adjusted well to change from decade to decade.
"Coaching is a hard job and if you've been around as long as Chris had, coaching young kids gets harder every year. But she did it and did it very well for 28 years at Dartmouth."
Wielgus coached five players who were named Ivy League Player of the Year. She also coached eight Ivy League Rookies of the Year and 81 All-Ivy selections with 28 earning first-team honors.
Away from Hanover, Wielgus was the training camp coordinator for the United States women's basketball team that won gold medals at the 1986 Goodwill Games and the 1986 World Championships.
She is a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and the Athletics Hall of Fame at Springfield College, from where she graduated in 1974. Wielgus is also a member of Dartmouth's Wearers of the Green.
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