Graduated from Walt Whitman High in Bethesda, Md., in 1995 where she played basketball, field hockey and soccer. As a soccer player her freshman and sophomore years, she was named all-county and honorable mention all-state. She played field hockey for three years and was all-county twice. But she was a four-year varsity standout in basketball, named all-county three times, first-team all-Met twice and once a first-team all-stater and USA Today's honorable mention All-American. As a senior, Whitman won the 4A state championship.
Gaine was a four-time All- Big East Academic All-Star and co-captain of the 1998-1999 team. All four teams she played for were ranked No. 1 in the nation at some point during each season and were four-time time Big East Champions. As a freshman, Gaine was also a member of a Final Four team that lost to Tennessee in the national semifinals. She scored 59 points in 85 games with seven three-pointers.
Gaine remained in Storrs for 11 years from 1995-2006 after completing undergraduate work in 2000 in the School of Allied Health and taking her boards to be a registered dietitian. While in grad school, she worked with athletes for four years, counseling and giving talks. She now holds a Ph.D. in nutrition with concentrations in biochemistry and exercise.
"I accepted my first 'real' job on my 29th birthday in 2006 as a tenure track professor at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC," Gaine said. "They have a renowned Exercise Science Department and I thought that this was going to be the greatest experience well, I kind of convinced myself of that. I owned this amazing home with 17 pine trees that basically cost $5 and shared a road with a cotton field. But the whole idea of being a professor in a small college town in the middle of nowhere was a lot cooler as an 'idea,' than it was actually a good life for a still wandering, curious, super social woman."
Gaine decided to resign and moved to Chicago without a job, but with two new hobbies.
"I bought a fiddle and tried to teach myself to play," she said. "I also taught myself to crochet, painted pictures, not to mention perfecting other random skills that came from spending a lot of time by myself.
"I took the summer off to take a road trip with my mother. But I had a mortgage to pay in N.C., health insurance, etc., and all of the sudden I was a real struggling American. That was me in the fall of 2007."
She began working for a contract catering company for $12 an hour until she received a 25 cent raise.
"I would be shuttled around in the back of white vans, with no windows, sitting on an egg crate," she said. "I would be dropped off at law firm luncheons, investment banking firm cocktail parties, Nike hip hop events, even catered a family's Thanksgiving dinner by myself. Just strolled right in and got dirty in the kitchen, with my tux, of course.
"You can't make that kind of fun up if you tried. But it was the greatest thing I may have ever done. I'd learn all about the countries [of the clients], how good drinking milk right from a cow is in Mexico, how hard it was to take kids across the Serbia/Croatia boarder. Not to mention the etiquette I picked up along the way -- the details Chris Dailey and my own mother had maybe not firmly instilled."
Since January of 2008, Gaine has been doing science, policy and strategy consulting for the food and nutrition industry. She lived a year and a half in Chicago, loved the lake, fell in love with the Cubs, but couldn't hack the weather. So she returned home to Washington, D.C., at Christmas 2008.
"The job is demanding, crazy and the partners expect total dedication and perfection, fortunately, I was well-trained in this environment for four years [at UConn] by a few successful folks, so I know that this usually leads to good things."
"It is so nice to be back near my family and the people in D.C. are great -- so smart, so friendly and this town is incredibly social. There is so much to do it does not leave much time for sleep. I don't play as much basketball as I'd like but I have become a pilates guru and as always, love running."
As for her time at UConn, Gaine will also remember what coach Geno Auriemma taught her.
"Are you trying hard or are you faking it? This is something only you can answer for yourself and sometimes it's tough to admit to faking it. I ask myself that a lot -- of course you can't try your hardest at everything, and that's important to understand, too.
"You can only control you and no one else. Given that's the case, you better trust yourself and believe in what you do and who you are. I think that's the key to making it through four years at UConn, and obviously an understanding of that makes life in general a whole lot easier."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun