The City That Shaped HimMontella is a small, hardworking town located in the province of Avellino in the Campania region of Italy.It has endured for centuries thanks to its inexorable spirit, toughness and resilience—qualities also embodied by Luigi [Geno] Auriemma, who was born there on March 23, 1954. Growing up in Montella wasn’t paradise in the traditional sense—running water, heat and electricity were considered luxuries, and the family had no phone, car or television. What they did have, and what has continued to be the foundation of his life and career, was love, honor and loyalty.
A Natural LeaderFrom birth, striving for excellence was firmly ingrained in Geno’s being.When his family immigrated to the United States in 1961, it wasn’t uncommon for 7-year-old Auriemma to help his parents make their mortgage payments or interact with lawyers. Geno played baseball and basketball in high school, and it was another leader—varsity basketball coach Buddy Gardler—who first inspired Auriemma to turn his leadership skills into a coaching career. Not only one of the most significant influences in his life, Gardler also served as the model for Geno’s coaching style—old school, tough and gritty.
Geno Comes to UConnWhen a job opened up at the University of Connecticut, Auriemma didn’t jump immediately. He enjoyed his position as a coach and recruiter at the University of Virginia, but his desire to lead a team had begun to bubble to the surface. After he traveled to meet with John Toner and Pat Meiser about the UConn position, he felt a clear sense of belonging and opportunity, which made the decision to leave Virginia and accept the UConn job an easy one.
Taking Care of His PlayersTo say that Geno Auriemma has been a father figure to his players would be a massive understatement.He might get irritated at times, but only because he genuinely cares about his players. That’s why every single player who has fulfilled all four years of eligibility has graduated with a degree. With Auriemma the link, the UConn women may be the tightest family in all of basketball.
An Incomparable LegacySince Geno’s arrival in 1985, his success, and the success of the UConn women’s basketball team, has been unmatched. Auriemma’s cumulative record at UConn is 955-134—the best winning percentage in the history of the sport. With Geno at the helm, UConn has won 43 regular season and tournament titles, advanced to 17 Final Fours, posted six perfect seasons and won 11 national championships. In addition to his time at UConn, Auriemma was an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team in 2000 and was head coach of the gold medal winning national team in 2012 at the London Olympics.