A chance meeting at Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport several months back led to the next chapter in Wendy Larry's career.
Larry, the former women's basketball coach at Old Dominion, on Monday was named an associate commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference, with an emphasis on women's hoops.
"I've coached a lot of student-athletes and I've been fortunate to coach some really good ones," Larry said. "But now I get to coach coaches. I'll be in a position to help them in whatever way I can to grow the game, and I'm really excited about it."
Larry will serve as the A-10's chief administrator of women's basketball, including officiating and the conference tournament. She also will oversee two other Olympic sports and work with media, marketing and branding, with an emphasis on women's basketball.
"She is nationally recognized as one of the most successful coaches in the country and I am confident her leadership and administrative skills will have an immediate impact on the conference," A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said in a statement.
Larry was waiting for an early-morning flight out of Newport News to New Jersey, coincidentally just ahead of McGlade, who was flying to visit one of the conference schools. The two had a conversation in which McGlade said that she had an opening on her staff, while Larry said that she was weighing options, and that she might be open to administration.
Larry later visited the A-10's Newport News offices, then McGlade asked her to interview formally. When McGlade offered the position, Larry jumped.
"I've admired what Bernie's done for a long time," Larry said. "She came out of John (Swofford's) camp in ACC country and then went to the A-10 and really built a terrific basketball conference. … She's such a visionary and I love the idea of kind of thinking out of the box, and I like the idea of coaching coaches and helping them any way I can, with their scheduling, with their marketing, with their promotions, with their tournament — whatever I can do to make it better. It's just a really perfect fit."
The Atlantic 10 has made news lately after welcoming both Butler and VCU, in the wake of impending departures by Temple and Charlotte. VCU is one of three schools leaving the CAA, along with Georgia State and Old Dominion.
Larry spent 24 years as head coach at ODU and won 559 games. She stepped down after a publicly contentious dispute with athletic director Wood Selig about a contract extension and took an administrative and fundraising role with the school.
In addition to those roles, she has had the opportunity to spend greater time with her mother in New Jersey and with former Tennessee coaching legend Pat Summitt, a longtime friend who is battling the early effects ofAlzheimer's diseasethat caused her to step down after last season.
"I wouldn't trade the year that I've had for anything in the world," she said.
Larry, 608-234 in 27 years as a head coach, concludes a 30-plus-year relationship with ODU, her alma mater. She played, served as an assistant coach and as head coach, guiding the Lady Monarchs to 17 consecutive CAA titles and NCAA tournament berths.
Asked if there was any hesitation to leave ODU, she said, "Everything happens for a reason, and I believe the best is yet to come."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun