While I have no idea what the future on the court will be for BC women's basketball in the cut-throat ACC, it appears they have hired the right coach. I got a chance to listen to Sylvia Crawley speak as part of Intersections' "SparkLunch" program, and during the talk, Crawley presented the image of a talented, smart, funny and dedicated coach.
She brings the kind of enthusiasm, energy, and passion that has made the Heights fall in love with Jags. It's clear that DeFilippo is seeking out coaches who love BC and are willing to sell the program through their enthusiasm.
The most compelling part of the lunch was Crawley describing the process by which she was hired by BC. The athletic department noticed her when she joined the University of Ohio dance team for a performance during a televised BracketBuster game as a way to promote the women's team; they called her the next day and said they wanted someone with her enthusiasm and energy at BC. They tracked her progress for the rest of the year and determined that her record at Ohio was impressive enough to offer her an interview for the BC job.
Crawley had an "ACC clause" in her contract, which meant that she could leave her Ohio contract if an ACC team came knocking, since "to me, [the ACC] is the highest level of competition."
She said that when she arrived in Boston for her interview, she was instead taken around by Gene DeFilippo on a tour of Boston - visiting Harvard, BU, Kenmore Square, the North End, and having dinner in a Boston restaurant; she said Gene wanted to go beyond the regular interview process and spend time with her to learn more about her on a personal level.
"It was a brilliant idea," she said. "I felt comfortable with BC right away" and she fell in love with the vibrancy of the Boston area, combined with the beauty of BC's campus.
After a formal interview, Crawley was offered the job, and she said the players instantly bought into her system. With 23 years of recent professional experience and a great deal of success, Crawley has real credibility with her players, and this should show both on the court and in recruiting.
Crawley has a very compelling life story. After being hung out to dry when the first major American women's pro basketball league - the ABL - folded, she decided to diversify and "never again put all [her] eggs in one basket."
In addition to earning a spot in the then-fledgling WNBA, Crawley started a clothing line when she became frustrated by the lack of options for 6'5'' women. She later invested in real estate, and now rents out five homes; she also helps manage a national lifestyle magazine with a friend from Ohio - all of this while pursuing her basketball career, first as a player, and then as a coach.
Crawley is a compelling figure who seems poised to lead BC into the upper echelon of ACC women's basketball. I was excited about the hire beforehand, but I'm even more excited now. It seems like she's the real deal, and I wish her nothing but the best.
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