The legacy of Sharon Dawley

University of Vermont women’s basketball head coach Sharon Dawley resigned on April 6 to accept the same position at the University of Massachusetts.
Dawley spent seven seasons as the Catamount’s head coach and leaves as the school’s all-time leader in wins with a career mark of 128-86.
Dawley was introduced as the coach on June 11, 2003 following coaching stops at Tufts University and Dartmouth College.
Dawley’s first season with Vermont showed signs of success to come as the Cats posted a winning record at 14-13. Highlights included ending Maine’s 31-game conference win streak.
In Dawley’s second season at the helm, she was able to notch her first America East tournament victory with a win over Binghamton.
The team finished with a record of 14-15 making it to the semi-finals of the conference tournament.
After suffering a minor setback with a 9-18 season in 2005-2006, Dawley and the Cats rebounded in 2006-2007 by posting a 19-12 record and a third place finish in the conference standings.
Dawley was able to record Vermont’s first-ever win over a ranked opponent with a victory over No. 22 Boston College to win the URI Invitational.
The 2007-2008 season was one of the best in school history.  The Cats went 24-9 and finished second in the conference standings.
Dawley was able to follow up this season with an America East conference championship in the 2008-2009 season, the first for Vermont since the 2000 season.
Vermont fell to the eventual NCAA champion Connecticut Huskies in the first round of the national tournament.
This  past season in Vermont women’s basketball, the team was poised to repeat as America East conference champions.
Senior May Kotsopoulos was already looking toward the postseason.
“[We want to] win the America East tournament and go back to the NCAA tournament and win a game,”  Kotsopoulos said.
Dawley and the Cats had a stellar regular season finishing 27-7 overall and 13-3 in America East.
The Catamounts were able to accomplish something they hadn’t in 17 years by returning to the national rankings as the number 24 team in the AP top 25 poll released on Jan. 18.
The team’s first goal was met as Dawley and the team posted a win over the Hartford Hawks in the conference championship to secure back-to-back titles.
Dawley’s Catamounts drew the No. 10 seed in the Kansas City region and were to play the No. 7 seed Wisconsin Badgers.
The Catamounts pulled off the upset which marked the first NCAA tournament win for the program.
Unfortunately for Vermont, the fans and players couldn’t bask in the glory of their tournament success for too long, as Dawley’s performance as head coach raised interest from other programs and drew her toward Amherst, Mass.
Players and fans alike must move forward to the next season without her, but understand the decision she made.
“It’s upsetting, but she’s kind of got to do what she’s got to do. She’s going on to better opportunities so you can’t really be mad at her for that,” first year Kendra Seto said.
Dawley leaves behind a legacy of the most career wins as head coach in Vermont history with two America East conference championships and owns Vermont’s lone victory in the NCAA tournament.
She was instrumental in helping to restore the women’s program to prominence, and fans can only hope for a replacement as fine as she was.