A veteran of two Final Fours and one of the nation’s top recruiters, Carly Thibault-DuDonis has been named the Head Coach of the Fairfield University Women’s Basketball program, as announced on Monday by Director of Athletics Paul Schlickmann. Thibault-DuDonis most recently served as the Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at the University of Minnesota. She becomes the third Division I head coach in program history.
“I am absolutely thrilled to introduce Carly Thibault-DuDonis as the Head Coach of Fairfield University Women’s Basketball.” said Director of Athletics Paul Schlickmann. “In what was a comprehensive search process, it became abundantly clear that Carly embodies who we are and who we aspire to be; as a University, as an Athletics department, and as a championship caliber Women’s Basketball program. She has achieved exceptional results at every step of her journey as a student-athlete and as a coach, consistently adding great value and making those around her better. Carly has astutely aligned herself with hall of fame mentors and effectively coalesced their best qualities into the person we hire today. She possesses a relentless work ethic, exudes an impressive basketball acumen, has established herself as an elite recruiter and articulates an authentic desire for the holistic development of young women. At this pivotal moment in our history, we are excited to have Carly at the helm of our Women’s Basketball program.”
In four seasons at Minnesota alongside newly-minted Naismith Hall of Famer Lindsay Whalen, Thibault-DuDonis brought three nationally-ranked recruiting classes to Williams Arena – including a current incoming class that ranks 10th in the nation – and the first two five-star recruits in program history. On the court, she was integral in the development of All-Big Ten First Teamer and WNBA draft pick Kenisha Bell as well as All-Big Ten Second Team guards Sara Scalia and Destiny Pitts. Thibault-DuDonis was the team’s defensive coordinator and assumed the role of Interim Head Coach in 2022 while Whalen was on medical leave.
“I am honored to be named the next Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Fairfield University,” said Thibault-DuDonis. “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. From the moment I first spoke with President Nemec, Paul Schlickmann, and Zach Dayton, their passion for women’s basketball was apparent, and it was clear that our values aligned. I cannot thank them enough for entrusting me with the women’s basketball program at this illustrious university. 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.”
Her first foray into the Power 5 world brought Thibault-DuDonis to Mississippi State University, where the Bulldogs made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA National Championship Game and brought the first-ever SEC Regular Season Championship to Starkville. During her tenure on Vic Schaefer’s coaching staff, Thibault-DuDonis was the recruiting coordinator that secured the top two classes in MSU history. Charged with the development of the Bulldogs’ back court, Thibault-DuDonis worked alongside 2018 First Team AP All-American Victoria Vivians, who went on to be the eighth overall selection in the 2018 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever.
“Our women’s basketball program is clearly on the rise, having won our conference and competed energetically in the NCAA Tournament this past year, ” said University President Mark R. Nemec, PhD. “As we continue to advance as a modern Jesuit, Catholic university of national prominence, we are taking our athletics programs to greater heights. I had the pleasure of meeting with Carly Thibault-DuDonis and came away impressed with her integrity and her ambition. With her roots in the region and her extensive experience coaching and recruiting at the highest level, she is well prepared to be the leader who will propel the program ever more forward, building upon the excellent foundation that we have established.”
Prior to her time at Mississippi State, Thibault-DuDonis was on Head Coach Tory Verdi’s coaching staff at Eastern Michigan University from 2014-2016, during which time the Eagles made a pair of WNIT appearances as well as a trip to the 2015 Mid-American Conference Championship Game.
She began her collegiate career at Florida State University as Director of Recruiting Operations for Head Coach Sue Semrau in the 2013-14 season. In that role, she signed both the 11th-ranked high school recruit and the top-ranked junior college recruit in the nation to join the Seminoles. She also served as an Interim Assistant Coach for several months during that campaign.
A standout at East Lyme High School in Connecticut, Thibault-DuDonis played collegiately at Monmouth University. She earned All-Northeast Conference Third Team honors and was named the NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a senior and helped the Hawks to a WNIT berth in her sophomore season. Thibault-DuDonis was the valedictorian of the Class of 2013 at Monmouth, graduating with a 4.0 GPA as a Psychology major with a double minor in Spanish and Health Studies.
Thibault-DuDonis married her husband Blake DuDonis in the summer of 2017. Her father Mike Thibault is currently the head coach of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. The three-time WNBA Coach of the Year previously coached the Connecticut Sun and has been an assistant coach in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks.
Thibault-DuDonis takes the helm of Fairfield Women’s Basketball as the sixth head coach in program history. This past season, the Stags won the program’s first MAAC Championship since 1998 and made their first NCAA postseason appearance since 2001 in the 15th and final campaign led by Head Coach Joe Frager.
A day, time and campus location for a press conference will be announced shortly. The press conference will be open to the public and also will be streamed live on the Stags Sports Network on FairfieldStags.com.
What they’re saying about Carly Thibault-DuDonis:
Lindsay Whalen, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, University of Minnesota
“I have known Coach Carly for roughly 20 years. In that time, I have seen her grow into an exceptional basketball coach and person. Carly’s work ethic, drive and compassion are second to none in this profession. I cannot wait to see all of the success she is going to have at Fairfield.”
Tory Verdi, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, University of Massachusetts
“Fairfield has knocked this hire out of the park. Carly is one of the hardest working coaches in the business. I know that she will out work her opponents on a daily basis. I couldn’t be more excited for Carly and Fairfield University as I know she will create a family environment, love her student-athletes and unite the entire athletic department.”
Sue Semrau, Retired Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Florida State University
“Carly is a rising star in the game of Women’s Basketball. In addition to having a tremendous basketball mind, she WORKS to be a great teacher and build strong relationships. Fairfield has hired a fantastic head coach in Carly Thibault.”
Mike Thibault, General Manager and Head Coach, WNBA’s Washington Mystics
“We are so proud of and excited for Carly. 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. But most of all, great coaches are great teachers on and off the court, and I think she has demonstrated that ability from the start of her coaching career. 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.”
Stephanie Gaitley, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Fordham University
“Carly is a coaching star in the making. I could see that when I coached her at Monmouth. She has a relentless work ethic and knows how to motivate those around her. It’s a family of coaches and she will make them and Fairfield proud. Fairfield Women’s Basketball is in great hands!”
Jennifer Palmateer, Vice President of Program Development, Kay Yow Cancer Fund
“What a great hire for Fairfield University! Carly is a proven winner both on and off the court and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table. I look forward to watching her lead, teach, mentor and motivate the members of the women’s basketball team to championships and beyond!”
Photo Courtesy Fairfield AthleticsTagged with: Fairfield MAAC