In the June 5 feature on alumni and their mentors, PAW invited alums to write about their own stories.
The stories on Princeton mentors were fantastic, and I felt compelled to provide color to the legacy of Courtney Banghart, recently departed head coach of women’s basketball. Coach Banghart is easily the most successful coach the program has ever seen, but the most powerful impact she had on my life doesn’t show up in the record books.
My senior year was Coach Banghart’s first at the helm of the women’s basketball program. I was a captain of a team she inherited, and calling me a mediocre Division I athlete is probably a generous assessment. We turned in a dismal 7–23 record, but it was the best year of basketball I’d ever had.
Each player was expected to bring her best each day, but your best was always good enough to earn Coach’s respect and encouragement. Effervescent and inclusive, Coach Banghart created a true community among players and alumni alike, regardless of whether they played for her or not, and regardless of whether they were All-Ivy selections or rode the bench. It is easy to define her time at Princeton by her winning records and NCAA tournament appearances, but my year with her is defined by empowerment. Coach Banghart taught me how to be a leader of people.