Gaitley Hits Career Milestone with 100th Win at Fordham

Coach+Gaitley+looks+forward+to+converting+her+achievements+off+the+court+to+wins+on+the+court+as+she+leads+the+Fordham+Women%27s+Basketball+team.+%28JASON+WANG%2FTHE+OBSERVER%29
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Gaitley Hits Career Milestone with 100th Win at Fordham

Coach Gaitley looks forward to converting her achievements off the court to wins on the court as she leads the Fordham Women's Basketball team. (JASON WANG/THE OBSERVER)

Coach Gaitley looks forward to converting her achievements off the court to wins on the court as she leads the Fordham Women's Basketball team. (JASON WANG/THE OBSERVER)

Coach Gaitley looks forward to converting her achievements off the court to wins on the court as she leads the Fordham Women's Basketball team. (JASON WANG/THE OBSERVER)

Coach Gaitley looks forward to converting her achievements off the court to wins on the court as she leads the Fordham Women's Basketball team. (JASON WANG/THE OBSERVER)

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By MADELYN CASALE
Contributing Writer

Fordham Women’s Basketball Head Coach Stephanie Gaitley has had a ground-breaking November. In the span of a month, Gaitley was selected for the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association (WBCA) NCAA Division I Coaches’ All-America Committee for the third time in her coaching career, reached her 900 game as a Division I women’s basketball head coach and reached 100 wins in her tenure at Fordham.

As a WBCA committee member, Coach Gaitley will represent one of only nine regions in the country for the next four years. She and her fellow committee members will spend an entire year choosing the five nominated athletes from each region, eventually narrowing this pool down to a final All-American team consisting of the 10 best players in the country. As a third-time committee member, Gaitley brings experience to the job. The last time Gaitley was part of the WBCA, her sons were in elementary school. Now that they are all grown up, Gaitley sees this opportunity as a great way to come full-circle. “I always enjoy being part of the process. When I saw that the position had come open, I thought that this was a good opportunity to get back involved.”

Despite Gaitley’s impressive milestones—coaching 900 basketball games and winning 100 with Fordham—she does not focus on the numbers. Instead, she ascribes her success to Fordham’s administration, her team and coaching staff. Right away, she knew that Fordham felt like home. “When I came to interview for the job, I think that the thing that jumped out to me was, to be honest, the people….I kind of felt like I had walked out onto the set of Cheers, everyone is your friend.”

Gaitley attributes her success in basketball to her family. “I think it starts in your home. I’m one of eight kids and my mom and dad are both athletes.” Gaitley used this foundation to be part of an Ocean City High School team that went 100-0 in her playing career there. Gaitley said that her high school coach, Pat Dougherty, had a huge impact on her life and basketball career. “She just demanded excellence and made you love the game,” Gaitley recalled. “You learned to be competitive at a young age.” Gaitley used lessons she learned from Dougherty to become an Academic All-American with Villanova University. There, Gaitley played with one of her five sisters, Courtney, and made NCAA history with a third sister, Coco, who was a player for Fairleigh Dickinson. They were the first three sisters to play in the same Division I college game. Regarding this feat, Gaitley said, “That’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of.”

Gaitley has built upon Fordham’s strong sense of community to transform a team that went 0-29 a few years before her arrival into the Atlantic 10 Conference Champions in the 2013-2014 season. Her secrets: team chemistry and an emphasis on defense. “When we won the championship, it was because we had great chemistry. No one really cared about the credit, everyone just wanted a common goal.” Defensively, Fordham held the country’s number-one ranked team, Notre Dame, to their lowest point total of the season in their Nov. 14 matchup, and on Dec. 1, upset perennial Atlantic 10 powerhouse, Duquesne University.

Fordham’s win against Duquesne brings them to 1-0 in the A-10 Conference and 6-2 overall. Gaitley credits her special group of women this year for the success, saying, “This is one of the best teams as far as depth that I’ve ever had.” When asked about her goals or aspirations for this season, Gaitley said that her team tries not to look too far ahead and get lost focusing solely on winning the Atlantic 10 or National Championship. What does she want her team to focus on instead? Just three little words: “Win the day.” She encourages her players to “win the day” as players, as students and as people. Under Coach Gaitley’s leadership, Fordham women’s basketball is poised to do just that.

(FEATURED IMAGE BY JASON WANG/THE OBSERVER)

CORRECTIONS:

The article originally stated that Gaitley has six sisters. It has been corrected to say she has five sisters.

The article also originally stated “Gaitley used lessons she learned from Dougherty to become an All-American with Villanova University.” It has been corrected to say “Gaitley used lessons she learned from Dougherty to become an Academic All-American with Villanova University.”