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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Q&A with new head women’s basketball coach Linda Cimino

Cimino has over 18 years of head coaching experience and most recently led the St. Francis Brooklyn College Terriers to a winning conference record.

linda-cimino
Courtesy of Linda Cimino

Following former head coach Adrienne Shibles’s resignation after the women’s basketball team went 2-26 last season, Linda Cimino will be taking over as head coach. Cimino has over 18 years of head coaching experience and most recently led the St. Francis Brooklyn College Terriers to a winning conference record. The Dartmouth sat down with Coach Cimino to discuss her experiences with both collegiate basketball and coaching. 

Can you tell me about your coaching and collegiate basketball experience?

LC: I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, went to college in New York and then never went home. My professional career has been in New York and New Jersey and now here in New Hampshire. I’ve been very fortunate with the opportunity to make my passion my career. I was a high school teacher right out of college, and I coached on the side and then was able to get into coaching full-time. I’ve been known as a rebuilding coach. I go into programs and try to reshape them and build them from the ground up. My hope is anytime I’ve left a job, it’s better when I left than when I found it. I’m very excited to be here and looking forward to this opportunity and embracing being here in the Upper Valley. 

What drew you to Dartmouth? 

LC: I was drawn to the opportunity of creating a more successful program. The Ivy League Conference is an amazing conference in women's basketball — one of the best in the country. I’ve always been in awe of the Ivy League and Mike Harrity, the director of athletics at Dartmouth. Talking to him and hearing his vision really inspired me to want to be here and be part of his team. 

During your last season with St. Francis Brooklyn College, you won 56% of your conference games. How do you plan to bring that same success to the Ivy League conference?

LC: We’re going to try to work with the players that are here and encourage skill development. You change the culture, you change the mindset, you talk about things that we have and things that we can do, rather than things that we don’t have and things that we can’t do. So we focus on what we can actually accomplish, what we have and what makes us better in terms of recruiting. Changing the mindset and the culture of the program is going to be instrumental for us.  

This past year, the women’s basketball team was 2-26 overall and won no Ivy League Games. How do you hope to turn the team around?

LC: It’s going to take time and patience. It’s going to take buy-in from the players, and for us to utilize the players’ abilities that we have and then bring in other players that complement our style as coaches. Some reshaping of the program — in terms of playing time rotations, my personal style of changing things up defensively — will help. It’s just going to take structure, organization and accountability. We’re all part of Team Dartmouth, and our staff and our players all have to put the betterment of the program and the team before ourselves. It doesn’t matter who is the leading score. It doesn’t matter who’s playing the most minutes. There are 15 players on the team; the team comes first.

What is your coaching philosophy, and has it changed at all since you started head coaching 18 years ago?

LC: My philosophy as a person is the same as my philosophy as a coach. I think it’s just about surrounding yourself with good people, being good people and doing the right thing. Sometimes you’re going to make mistakes along the way, but you must learn from those mistakes, so you don’t make the same mistake twice. My philosophy has changed over the last 18 years as the game has changed. We went from two halves to four periods. I do adapt and adjust with the modern game, but at the same time, I’m an old soul, and I still believe in certain things as a coach on the court. We work hard, we’re structured, we’re organized, and we play the game the right way. I think what makes me different is I don’t waver and go with the popular thing. I know who I am as a coach, and I know I’m going to lead with my integrity. I’m going to lead with my energy and my positivity. I think my philosophy has pretty much stayed the same in that sense.  

Do you have any particular coaching role models that you look to as you coach women’s basketball?

LC: My college coach — the Michigan head coach, Kim Barnes-Arico — is somebody that I have leaned on and asked for advice throughout the years. My high school coach was very instrumental in my development as a coach. Angel Elderkin, who is the head coach at Appalachian State University, is also somebody who I admire and look up to. Angel’s one of my best friends and was my high school teammate, and she’s somebody that I talk to daily. We rely and lean on each other for positivity and guidance. As a head coach, you can feel like you’re on an island, and you can feel pretty lonely, especially if you’re not winning. It’s important to have a good, strong network of two or three people that you can really rely on and count on.   

What are you most excited about as you begin to take the helm of the Big Green women’s basketball team?

LC: I’m most excited to be part of a huge community, and I’ve experienced some really great conversations with alumni and the fans already. I want to make them proud. I’m very excited about developing relationships with the legendary players and coaches who came before us and bringing back that sense of pride.   

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Correction Appended (June 30, 12:19 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated that Pat Summitt is the head coach at Appalachian State University. The head coach at Appalachian State University is Angel Elderkin. 

A previous version of this article also incorrectly spelled Barnes-Arico’s name. The article has been updated.