|Position:||Gail Koziara Boudreaux '82 and Family Head Coach|
|Alma Mater:||Richmond '02|
Hired by Athletics Director Harry Sheehy in April 2013, Belle Koclanes (koh-CLAH-ness) is now entering her fourth season in 2016-17 as the Gail Koziara Boudreaux ’82 and Family Head Coach of Dartmouth Women’s Basketball.
In her third season (2015-16) Koclanes led her team to its best finish in conference play since 2009. The Big Green went 7-7 in the Ivy League good for fourth place. Under Koclanes, senior Lakin Roland earned All-Ivy First Team honors and sophomore Kate Letkewicz received honorable mention.
In her second season (2014-15), Koclanes’ squad made important progress finishing the season with a 14-14 record, the best season mark for a Dartmouth Women’s Basketball team since the 2008-09 season. The 9-5 non-conference finish was also the best non-league record since the 2005-06 season. These improvements led to a jump of 158 spots in the NCAA RPI ratings. Fanni Szabo ’17 earned All-Ivy Second Team Honors while Lakin Roland ’16 garnered Honorable Mention All-Ivy praise.
During her first season (2013-14), Koclanes focused on moving the program forward towards its 18th Ivy League championship. The biggest improvement of the season was an Ivy win over eventual Ivy League champion Penn in Leede Arena in late February. Coach Belle instilled the program’s core values of “RAP: Respect, Attitude, and Preparation” to unite this team towards a common goal.
With a BA in Leadership Studies from the University of Richmond in 2002 and a MA in Culture and Communication from New York University, Coach Belle embeds leadership development into her everyday coaching philosophy. She believes in servant leadership where leadership is about action, not position. The team participates in many leadership activities throughout the year ranging from the Winter Games to mentor/mentee meetings with the coaching staff to 1 vs. 1 conversation with Coach Belle teaching ways in which a player must first learn to lead herself before others.
“Always remember where you come from” is an important saying with Dartmouth Women’s Basketball. A 10-year veteran of collegiate coaching, Koclanes previously spent two years as an assistant coach at American University of the Patriot League in Washington, D.C.
“I am thrilled to welcome Belle into the Dartmouth athletics family and community,” said Sheehy. “During her visit to our campus, Belle impressed everyone with her knowledge of and passion for the game of basketball. She has learned the game from great coaches in great programs and is well suited to lead our team into the future. Our current team and future Dartmouth women’s basketball players will love playing for Belle.”
“I also want to thank the four dedicated alumnae who served on our Search Advisory Committee,” Sheehy added. “Allison Greene ’90, Ute Bowman Otley ’90, Sherryta Freeman ’01, and Ashley Taylor Meyer ’07 were very generous with their time and insights and played a critical role in the search process.”
Koclanes spent two seasons as an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator at American, where she helped lead the Eagles to back-to-back winning records. During her first season, American posted the first undefeated Patriot League record (14-0) in conference history. One of her major contributions to the staff was the implementation of her 12-month leadership development program. In addition, Koclanes was responsible for the development of the guards as well as game strategy.
“I want to thank Harry Sheehy, [Senior Associate Athletics Director] Drew Galbraith and the entire Dartmouth family for the opportunity to bring my experiences and passion of coaching to the Big Green,” Koclanes said. “As soon as I arrived in Hanover, it was evident that the people make the place. I am excited to connect with the community and see many familiar faces in Leede Arena.”
Prior to her stint at American, Koclanes spent three seasons on the staff at Old Dominion University for legendary coach Wendy Larry. During her time in Norfolk, the Lady Monarchs recorded a 56-38 overall record, including a 39-15 mark in Colonial Athletic Association play and earned two berths in the WNIT. Koclanes was responsible for the development of the guards with additional responsibilities for recruiting and game scouting.
A native of Pelham, NY, Koclanes is no stranger to the Ivy League as she started her career as the Director of Basketball Operations at Columbia University during the 2003-04 season before spending four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania. During her tenure at Penn, Koclanes assisted in all aspects of recruiting, scouting, on-court coaching and game preparation.
Before entering the coaching ranks, Koclanes spent the 2002-03 season playing professionally for Panserraikos in the Greek Basketball League.
A three-year captain at the University of Richmond, Koclanes finished her collegiate career as the Spiders’ career assist leader (793) and was an All-America nominee and a Naismith Award candidate (National Player of the Year). Growing up in a big Italian family, all Coach Belle knows how to do is share, which is evident in her assist numbers as a point guard. She led the conference in assists all four years and averaged 7.37 assists per game during her senior campaign (4th best in the NCAA). She totaled 30 games of 10-or-more assists in her career and had an astounding 22 Career Double-Doubles. Always looking to improve, Koclanes broke Richmond’s program assists mark each year of her career (160, 204, 208, 221) in addition to finishing her career with 1,205 points.
A member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Koclanes has presented at the Assistant Coaches Roundtables in conjunction with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Convention held each year at the Final Four.
Koclanes was also invited to The Center for Coaching Excellence, which is a two-day elite leadership-training program that provides an unparalleled exclusive learning experience for coaches of women’s basketball.
“Dartmouth has a strong winning tradition that has been established by the outstanding coaches and players of the past,” said Koclanes. “I am eager for the challenge to continue this legacy. I believe that coaching is about building relationships with people and creating a culture for young adults to achieve excellence. Our team culture will be rooted in respect, attitude, and preparation. With these values at our core, we will wear the Green with pride as we strive for our 18th Ivy League title.”