Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Courtney Banghart

Head Coach, Women's Basketball View Profile

Reflections on Being the Coach

The privilege of leading a fearless and tough group of women

To be called “coach” is an opportunity and an even bigger responsibility. The basketball court is my classroom, our student-athletes the front line. They are the ones playing with Princeton across their chest. They represent themselves, our program, our coaching staff and the entire University community. They do this on the court and off of it, on campus and abroad. I understand my role in their development.

My driving philosophy is one of authentic leadership. As a collegiate coach, you get to choose your team. I recruit the right people, competitors and winners to be sure, but also people who have the intangible qualities to be great. My student-athletes arrive at Princeton having already been the best, but this is a much bigger pond. And I ask that they trust the process. I remind them how special these four years are. I challenge them daily.

I get a lot of credit for “inspiring my players.” For me, it’s about caring about the process. Caring first about who we add to the Tiger family and then being deeply committed to each individual’s growth curve. This curve includes the challenges, triumphs, struggles and highlights. This is done in private; it is also done in public. It’s always done from the heart.

Princeton’s been the perfect fit for me, and I hope I’ve been the right fit for this great University. Here, I am charged with recruiting the best of the best. At Princeton, the student-athlete model is embedded into the very core of the University. Our elite athletes are some of the nation’s best students, and they are encouraged to be true members of the campus community. They pursue excellence in every arena, and they are willing to sacrifice and work relentlessly to achieve their varied dreams. In addition, we expect that our women lead with kindness, empathy, compassion and passion.

It’s been said that competing in sports reveals character and that you can tell a lot about people by how they play the game. I agree with both of these sentiments. My job is to create the synergy, to provide the leadership to help them grow into better versions of themselves, on and off the court. The path isn’t always straight, and it comes with a whole range of emotions, but it’s always been worth it.

I have hired a great staff. They are the ideal role models and teachers, and they are entirely invested in the Ivy League model. We work well together, working hard to sustain and grow a winning tradition, while ensuring that the most important life’s lessons are learned along the way.

This particular Tiger team made history and an indelible mark on the many who have followed this season closely. They played with toughness, fearlessness and relentlessness. They came together to become a true team. They achieved the unimaginable. And they did things the right way. They practiced hard, and they played with class. This Tiger team represented Princeton in the way this University and its brand deserve. I will remember this team, as I do them all, forever.

This season’s chapter is over. Soon we’ll be back at work…starting the next chapter.