|Nancy Fahey's coaching career has taken her and the Washington University women's basketball program to unparalleled heights in Division III.
By Danny Reise, WUSTL Photo
By Josh Smith
Her resume says she has 700 victories. But ask Washington U. head coach Nancy Fahey, and she’ll say she has exceptional players and supportive assistant coaches.
That’s the humble approach Fahey took after securing her most recent coaching milestone Sunday.
“I told the kids, I haven’t hit a shot in 30 years,” Fahey said after her women’s basketball team gave No. 21 Carnegie Mellon its first loss of the season, 63-50. “So I appreciate what they did.”
Sunday’s victory allowed Fahey to become the second fastest NCAA coach – in both men’s and women’s basketball – to reach 700 wins.
“I think most coaches don’t really think of milestones. They think about the next game,” Fahey said.
“When I walked into the game on Sunday, it was about playing Carnegie,” she added. “It was an important game.”
With a career record of 700-126, Fahey took just 826 games to reach the impressive win total. Only University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma reached 700 wins faster, doing so in his 822nd contest.
“He’s a legend, and so is she,” Wash. U. senior captain Katybeth Biewen said. “We are all kind of in disbelief. How are we so lucky that we get to play for such an amazing coach?”
Fahey became the fourth women’s basketball coach in Division III history to secure 700 victories.
Previous coaches to hit the mark include Scranton’s Mike Strong, who won 815 games before retiring; current Emmanuel head coach Andy Yosinoff, who has 759 wins following a victory last week; and Phil Kahler, who had 757 wins at St. John Fischer.
“We’re all really excited and really proud to be a part of it,” Biewen said of Fahey’s 700th triumph. “I think it’s an honor because she’s such a special coach.”
Having celebrated other milestone victories, Fahey said this one was more encompassing.
“I guess the older you get, the more you appreciate those moments that you have,” Fahey said.
“She was a little emotional after the game and that’s always kind of fun to see her open up like that,” Biewen added.
“She really emphasized the fact that she’s doing the coaching, but if it weren’t for her players, then she wouldn’t be where she is,” the senior continued. “But, obviously, we know that she’s a huge part of it. She is why all come here and we all play at Wash. U.”
Although the Bears were focused on preparing for their game with Carnegie Mellon, the players on the team knew Fahey’s 700th win was approaching. Biewen said team captains and seniors quietly discussed what they could do to help Fahey celebrate when she reached the mark, and they decided to keep it low-key.
“Everyone on the bus had a sign that said ‘700’ on it – both the men’s and women’s team and all the coaches. So when she came on the bus, we all held up our signs and chanted,” Biewen said. “It was a pretty small celebration, but something that she appreciated.”
Following the victory, a number of former players, family and friends extended congratulatory messages to Fahey. And fellow coaches – from the UAA as well as outside of the conference – were happy for Fahey, too.
“I hold these coaches in high regard – every one of them. So it meant a lot to me to hear from them,” Fahey said.
The Bears have won 21 UAA championships and five Division III national championships under Fahey’s watch, claiming titles in four consecutive seasons from 1998-2001 and adding another in 2010. The Hall of Fame coach also has led Wash. U. to 10 Final Four appearances, which is a Division III record.
She entered the season with an .847 winning percentage and has never lost more than eight games in any of her previous 29 years has Wash. U.’s head coach.
But when reflecting on her career, she said picking a favorite moment would be like picking a favorite child. It’s impossible for her.
“I have a ton of relationships that I’ll always cherish,” she said.
Fahey also credited a great deal of her coaching success to the support she has received from her staff.
“I’m very fortunate to have assistant coaches that have done an incredible job of recruiting the right student-athlete to Wash. U.,” Fahey said.
This season’s team is experiencing the level of success that has become a standard at Washington U. during Fahey’s tenure. The Bears are 12-2 and tied atop the UAA standings with a perfect 3-0 league record.
Biewen said the program always has lofty goals, like winning a UAA championship, reaching the NCAA tournament and winning a national title. But she said the focus is on constant improvement.
“What’s exciting is we have so many different people that can contribute in a lot of different ways. On any given night, someone can have a really good game,” Biewen said. “We’re just very deep.”
Fahey said this season has been enjoyable to watch because there are new players stepping into the lineup after a number of key seniors graduated.
“It’s been a year of new roles and new people. It’s been fun because, really quite frankly, we’re just trying to get better every day,” Fahey said. “It’s fun because people are growing. We’re getting to know each other a little bit better on the court, and off the court.
“Hopefully, minute by minute we continue to get better.”
Central Region clippings
Wisconsin Lutheran senior Jake Jarnigo scored his 1,000th point when the Warriors defeated Concordia (Wis.), 84-82, Jan. 14. Jarnigo, who became the 19th player at WLC to eclipse 1,000 points finished the game with 12 points while Jim Marose banked in the game-winning shot at the buzzer and finished with 22 points. In that same game, Concordia senior Keith Kahlfeldt totaled 14 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He is the 15th player in program history to hit the mark. … Greenville’s Tim Daniel buried 15-of-27 3-point attempts over the course of two games to help the Panthers defeat Principia, 129-100, Jan. 12 and SLIAC-leading Iowa Wesleyan, 120-111, in overtime Jan. 16. Daniel is currently the NCAA Division III leader in 3-point field goals made. … Lana Wieseman became Beloit’s all-time leading scorer when she registered 32 points and 17 rebounds against Illinois College on Jan. 16. She now has 1,486 career points. … Josh Mayberry became the 17th member of the Dominican men’s basketball program to surpass 1,000 points on Jan. 14. He scored 22 points for the Stars against Aurora to reach the milestone, however, the Spartans won the game, 96-79. … Molly McGraw poured in 27 points and recorded seven steals during Illinois Wesleyan’s 77-54 win over Millikin on Jan. 13. She added 21 points in a 78-66 win over North Central (Ill.) on Jan. 16, helping the Titans pull into a first-place tie with North Park atop the CCIW standings. … WIAC leading scorer Jon Christensen chipped in 17 points to lead UW-River Falls to a 78-66 win over UW-Eau Claire, Jan. 16. The win marked the Falcons’ fifth straight and improved the team to a perfect 4-0 mark in WIAC play. … Lawrence’s Jamie Nikitas and Benedictine’s Luke Johnson were both named to this week’s D3hoops.com Team of the Week.
Where they rank
Six men’s teams and six women’s teams from the Central Region were among the Top 25 this week.
For the second week in a row, CCIW rivals Elmhurst and Augustana remained ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. The Bluejays received four first place votes while the Vikings were awarded five.
Undefeated Benedictine moved up one spot to No. 4, garnering one first place vote.
Chicago climbed four places to No. 12 in this week’s poll, St. Norbert rose one spot to No. 22 and North Central (Ill.) held steady at No. 25.
UW-Whitewater fell out of the Top 25. Carroll (49), UW-Whitewater (38), Washington U. (23) and UW-River Falls (1) received votes this week.
Washington U. was the highest ranked women’s team in the Central Region this week, checking in at No. 8 – three spots higher than a week ago.
UW-Whitewater fell four spots to No. 12 while UW-Oshkosh shot up seven places to No. 13. UW-River Falls entered the Top 25 at No. 18, and UW-Stevens Point dropped five places to No. 19.
Wheaton (Ill.) tumbled nine spots to No. 24.
Do you have a story idea for the Around the Central column? Contact me about broken records, approaching milestones, breakout players or any other storylines from the Region. Or just drop me a note to let me know what you think of the column. All ideas and feedback are welcome. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @By_Josh_Smith.
Around the Central Region was written by Josh Smith during the 2015-16 season. Josh covers high school and Division III athletics for the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wis. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and contributes to multiple publications in addition to his duties at the Daily Union, including D3sports.com beginning in 2012. He graduated from UW-Whitewater with a degree in print journalism.