Coach Profile: Pete Lonergan

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March 22, 2012

Coach Pete LonerganAwards, photos, framed newspaper stories and sports memorabilia cover every available inch of the walls in Pete Lonergan’s office. Take a few minutes to examine these artifacts of a 31-year career as a basketball coach, and a story will emerge - one of persistence, patience and an unwavering commitment to the education of his players. 

When asked how long he had been a basketball coach, he sat back and calculated in his head: "31 years, the past nine of them at Medaille." With that much experience, Lonergan knows that there is no true "elevator to success," as he calls it. Hard work pays off, as do mistakes, which he calls "part of playing the game." As a coach, he tells his players that "corrections are compliments, and they make you a better player."

He sees among his players that parsing out playing time is the biggest motivator he can use to inspire his team to work hard, and work hard they have. At the start of the 2011-12 season, the women’s basketball team was ranked 26th out of all conferences in the nation - and 11th out of all 450 teams in Division III play. 

Lonergan recently took honors as the ninth-winningest coach in NCAA history, edging out larger, nationally-recognized programs. In his mind, every game is its own entity, and it’s not worth worrying about what’s on the scoreboard. The only things that matter are the preparation and focus that each player brings to the court. 

He also cites an excellent coaching staff, with Bill Agronin, associate head coach, and Rob Stepien, second assistant coach. 

Basketball season is the longest of all college sports, starting on October 15 and ending, hopefully, through March Madness. For five months, players are challenged to get in shape, to stay in shape and to keep up with their studies. In the past eight years, Lonergan points to a "great run of talent" that has done those tasks well, including Amanda Walling ’08, Marissa Clark ’08, ’10, Jordan Schrimmel ’11, Kacie Mills ’11, Mandy Sahhar ’11 and too many others to name. These players have propelled teams to three NCAA tournaments, and put Medaille’s D-III team on the map of national prominence. 

This content originally appeared in the winter 2011-12 issue of the Medaille Magazine.

photo by Kara Kane

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