The 2016-17 season was a down year for the Seton Hall women’s basketball team, but it was a year of recognition for the program’s assistant coach, Lauren DeFalco.
DeFalco, 30, was named an honoree of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Thirty Under 30 list. According to the WBCA, the program was created to recognize up-and-coming women’s basketball coaches under the age of 30 at all levels of the game.
This honor comes in DeFalco’s fourth season with Seton Hall and her second as head coach Tony Bozzella’s lead assistant. She is the Big East’s only representative on this list.
“I have to thank Coach B for giving me the opportunity to come here, first and foremost,” DeFalco said. “To get on this team and on this staff, that’s what leads to awards of success.”
Behind every great player and coach are people who have helped them to that point and DeFalco is no different. Despite being coached mostly by men in her playing career, including collegiately at Iona, she has had numerous women impact her as a person, a player and a coach.
“I had a great high school coach who really prepared me for college,” DeFalco said. “She didn’t take any crap and she ran it like a college program.”
Aside from her past coaches, DeFalco credits her mother, who is just as involved in her basketball career as she is.
“She lives and breathes when we win and we lose,” DeFalco said. “She loves watching it with me and I’ve been fortunate with her.”
After a successful playing career at Iona playing for Bozzella, DeFalco made the transition to coaching, something that she always saw herself doing after her playing days.
“In high school I used to be like, ‘I want to go to college for basketball, I want to major in that,’” DeFalco said. “Obviously it wasn’t an option, but this is definitely something that I’ve always wanted to do. I never knew the ins and outs of it and it’s a lot harder and a lot more work than people think, but I think it was what I was meant to be doing.”
DeFalco began her coaching career at Sacred Heart and spent two years there before returning to Iona to work under Bozzella. The two have been together ever since.
The way DeFalco sees it, the two years that she spent at Sacred Heart were beneficial for both her and Bozzella.
“Coach B and I as a player and a coach went at it a lot because we’re very similar,” DeFalco said. “I needed two years away, he needed two years away just to grow, and that really helped coming back to Iona.”
Over the years, Bozzella has had the chance to see his former player grow as a coach and it is DeFalco’s work ethic that resonates with Bozzella.
“Everyone knows how to teach a dribble, everyone knows how to teach a shot, everyone knows how to teach a move, but it’s instilling the work ethic for those kids to work hard,” Bozzella said. “She has a high standard for how hard you’re supposed to work.”
One player that can echo that sentiment is guard Kaela Hilaire. The all-conference freshman performer cited DeFalco as one of the main reasons that she came to Seton Hall. The work ethic that DeFalco encourages has stuck with her.
“She has an amazing work ethic,” Hilaire said. “She makes you want to be in the gym and work.”
Along with her responsibility of coaching the guards, DeFalco serves as the team’s recruiting coordinator.
Bozzella believes that her presence on the Thirty Under 30 list could only improve her credibility on the recruiting trail.
“Any time you get positive publicity, it helps you,” Bozzella said. “Especially in recruiting with everything being out there, it can only help.”
DeFalco’s presence on this list cements the fact that she is a rising star in her profession. Most rising stars have their eyes set on becoming a head coach at some point in the future, but DeFalco is happy with where she is right now.
“Maybe in a couple of years, but not right now,” DeFalco said. “I’m really comfortable here. My whole family is here, so I’m not one of those people who wants to move somewhere like Missouri just to get a head coaching job.”
The longer DeFalco sticks around, the better it is for the Seton Hall women’s basketball program, as she is undoubtedly one of their keys to success.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.