Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ODU had a gem in Wendy Larry

After 608 wins, 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, 17 straight CAA titles, an Elite Eight, a national runner-up finish -- now Old Dominion will learn what they had in Wendy Larry.

The legendary coach of the Lady Monarchs announced Tuesday that she is stepping down. She will remain at ODU, with responsibilities for assisting the Office of Institutional Advancement for athletic related fundraising projects, and alumni events, and yes, we wonder what that means.

Folks have grown restless at ODU, both inside the department, where new athletic director Wood Selig made her contract dispute public, and amid the declining fan base. The Lady Monarch faithful clamor for a return to the glory days when they made lunch meat out of the rest of the CAA. New coach or not, we don't see those times coming back.

We recognize the times at ODU, specifically the last three years when the program did not meet its own standards. We also recognize Larry set those standards and maintained those standards at a time when other mid majors failed to do so. In the last three years, ODU has gone from an elite mid major to a pretty good one -- good enough to beat Georgia Tech and Louisville this year. Pretty good doesn't cut it with Selig or fans yearning for the past.

Selig has women's basketball roots, so he should know this. This CAA has evolved into a better CAA due to Old Dominion forcing the conference schools to elevate their programs or be left in Lady Monarch dust. Elena Delle Donne plays in this CAA. Denise Dillon coaches in it. ODU isn't going to chew through the conference anymore. The conference has markedly improved because it has had to in order to keep stride with ODU.

We don't know who ODU will get, but they won't get another Larry. ODU wasn't a steppingstone on her resume to an ACC or SEC program. She, like Virginia's Debbie Ryan, made it her passion, her life. The former WBCA president and ODU alum has lasting ties with every coach in the game. Every CAA school would love to have a home-and-away relationship with Tennessee. Put the feather in Wendy's cap for that, and for keeping ODU afloat during a time when BCS schools can boast charter flights and major television packages.

She is the role model you'd love your child to play for. She's funny and witty and smart and nurturing with an x's and o's mind that can't keep her from diagramming plays on napkins over dinner.  If you've ever listened to her speak publicly, you know where her heart is, where her heart has always been. She is a Lady Monarch. Frankly, it's hard to imagine the ODU bench without her.

At LadySwish we don't think she lost her fast ball. Have their been problems? Indeed, particularly in March the last three years when teams should peak, not falter.  We would have liked to see Larry take a crack at it with five new freshman, including a Parade All-American, traditionally not a kid who would choose a CAA school.

We will miss Wendy Larry, but we have always appreciated her for what she has done and what she kept doing for two decades. We have no doubt the restless will gain some respect, too, for a legacy we don't expect to see duplicated.

1 comment:

  1. "We have always appreciated (Wendy Larry) for what she has done..." AMEN!!

    ...and "Thank you" does not say enough for what Wendy Larry has done for Old Dominion, CAA, and NCAA Women's Basketball - not to mention Women's NCAA sports in general. "Best Wishes and Continued Success" to Wendy Larry!

    WHP (ODU '87)