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Fairfield names Carly Thibault-DuDonis its new women's basketball coach

Fairfield — Carly Thibault-DuDonis, a 2009 East Lyme graduate, was named head coach of the Fairfield University women's basketball program on Monday.

Thibault-DuDonis, the daughter or former Connecticut Sun and current Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault, replaces Joe Frager, who retired after 15 seasons.

Frager led the Stags to their first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament championship since 1998 and an automatic bid into the NCAA Division I tournament during his final season.

Thibault-DuDonis, who married Blake DuDonis in 2017, played basketball at Monmouth University (N.J.) — also a member of the MAAC — graduating in 2013 and immediately starting her career as director of recruiting operations at Florida State.

Following stops at Eastern Michigan and Mississippi State, where she was part of Vic Schaefer's coaching staff that reached the NCAA title game in back-to-back seasons, Thibault-DuDonis has spent the past four seasons as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator under Lindsay Whalen at Minnesota. Whalen played for Mike Thibault during her time with the WNBA's Sun and will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this year.

"I am honored to be named the next head women's basketball coach at Fairfield University," Thibault-DuDonis said in a Fairfield release. "In my coaching journey, it has always been my goal to be in places where I could positively impact young women's lives and be surrounded by others who wanted to do the same. Here at Fairfield, I've found a perfect fit.

"I cannot wait to get on campus to meet our student-athletes and begin developing relationships with them. We will continue to build a program that Fairfield can be proud of — one rooted in selflessness. It takes a village to be successful, and we will be ingrained in the Fairfield community in a noticeable way as we build a championship program together."

Since joining the coaching ranks, Thibault-DuDonis earned a reputation is a top recruiter. Minnesota's incoming recruiting class has been ranked as high as 10th in the nation — including the first two five-star recruits in program history — and she played a major role in helping bring top talent to Mississippi State and Florida State, including MSU's Victoria Vivians, a 2018 Associated Press first team All-American and the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever.

"We are so proud of and excited for Carly," her dad Mike said in the Fairfield release. "She has been successful because of her incredible work ethic and her ability to relate to co-workers and players — which has led to great recruiting success at each place she has coached. Carly has grown up immersed in the game, and her understanding of all the X's and O's will allow her to make a smooth transition to head coach.

"Although I am very biased, I believe Fairfield has set a great course for future success in women's basketball and it will be fun for all of us to watch."

Fairfield will hold a formal introductory press conference at a date and time to be determined.


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