Women’s History Month Interview Series: Q&A With Seton Hall Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach Lauren DeFalco
We kick-off our 2014 Women’s History Month Interview Series with a local name. Lauren DeFalco is a native of New Brunswick who attended Immaculata High School in Somerville, NJ and starred on the basketball court. She then went on to become the all-time leader in three-point field goals and games played at Iona College, playing under now Seton Hall head coach Tony Bozzella. After her playing career, DeFalco served two seasons as a graduate assistant coach with the women’s basketball program at Sacred Heart University. After two years as an assistant coach under Bozzella at her alma mater. DeFalco followed her former coach to Seton Hall where she is currently an assistant coach, working primarily with the Pirates’ guards. She is also the programs recruiting coordinator.
DeFalco took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with our Shannon Hovan.
1. What is your first sports memory?
My first sports memory was probably playing baseball with all of the boys growing up. I was one of the only girls to play. We had a park right down the street from our house, and I remember going down the street and playing everyday.
2. Growing up, was there a female athlete that had a significant impact on you?
Sue Bird, I definitely enjoyed watching her growing up.
3. In your eyes, what is the beauty of basketball?
The one thing I love about basketball is the teamwork, the friendships. Also, when you play basketball, you just forget about anything else in the world. Whatever the case is, when you step on the court for one hour or two hours, you just play and forget about everything else. You can just escape reality.
4. At what point in your playing career, did you discover that coaching was a profession you would want to pursue?
I think when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school. I would see coaches come to my AAU games and my tournaments, and I would wonder how you got to be a coach. At a certain point growing up, basketball became all I did; and when you’re around something all of the time, it’s really all you want to do.
5. In your inaugural year at Seton Hall, what has been the greatest challenge you did not expect?
Everything. Honestly, it’s been hard because I’ve never been apart of rebuilding a program. This is my boss’ fourth time rebuilding a program. He would always say to me, “You don’t know what it’s like until you do it.” He was right. It sounds funny but you have to teach these kids how to win. So, I think just getting used to building a culture here, a winning culture, has been the ultimate challenge.
6. In what ways does coaching motivate you?
In coaching, you have more of an impact on the lives of kids that you didn’t have when you were playing. You understand the importance of the relationships you’re building. You don’t overlook moments or relationships the way you might have as a player.
7. In your opinion, who are the most impressive players in Women’s College Basketball?
I like Shoni Shimmel. She takes Louisville to the next level. Breanna Stewart is head-over-heels above anyone in the college game. I also like watching Stef Dolson. I don’t think she turned out to be what people expected. She works her butt off and she is going to be highly recruited. Those players play to win.
8. As a recruiter for Seton Hall, what qualities are the most sought-after in a player?
You want talent, but you can’t get talent and sacrifice the character of a kid. I would take the 100th ranked kid over the 10th if she has great character. The kids are ultimately a reflection of you. So, we ask ourselves, “Is she a hard worker?” “Is she respectful?” “Is she going to do what’s asked of her?” “Does she look me in the eye?” I’d take a character kid over a skill kid.
9. How competitive is the recruiting process?
I think you want to stay as local as you can. The women’s game is not as crazy as the men’s, but I think it’s getting there. It’s an everyday process.
10. In what ways can we all contribute to growing the women’s game?
People need to understand that women’s basketball is not men’s basketball. It’s hard for people to watch. We don’t jump or play above the rim in the same way that the men do. I think that people just need to accept that it is not the men’s game and it is never going to be the men’s game. But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve the same respect. I think that the coverage we get is fair. If we are going to continue to grow in media coverage and in fan support, college programs need to recruit kids who are role models; kids who are talented and work hard.
11. If you were to host a dinner, what three women in sports would you invite, and why?
Pat Summitt, because she is a big reason that women’s basketball is in the spot that it is. Sue Bird, so I could pick her brain about what it would be like to play at UCONN. And, Skylar Diggins; I would love to hear what it was like to be the staple figure in women’s basketball in the way that she was while she was at Notre Dame.
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