Rizzotti Inducted into Hall of Fame
Rizzotti receives her honor from David A. Goldman, VP of Eastman Chemical Company, presenting sponsor of the induction ceremony.
University of Hartford women’s basketball coach Jen Rizzotti was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 8, joining five others in a two-hour ceremony in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee's historic Bijou Theater.
Inducted for her playing accomplishments, Rizzotti is joined in the Hall of Fame's 2013 class by former players Annette Smith-Knight (Texas), Peggie Gillom-Granderson (Mississippi), and Sue Wicks (Rutgers), and coaches Gary Blair (Texas A&M) and Jim Foster (Chattanooga).
"I never used my size (5 feet 6 inches) as an excuse,” Rizzotti said. “I found ways from within to compete. I wanted my playing career to be defined as a player who worked harder than anyone else, who was willing to go through a wall, and who had the biggest heart on the floor."
Rizzotti displayed a gleaming smile throughout the weekend's events, which included media interviews, an autograph session, and two receptions sandwiched around the ceremony. She admitted it was a bit overwhelming “to stand in the hall and feel you are a small part of this renaissance of women's basketball in the United States, where we went from being on TV occasionally to selling out arenas to starting professional leagues to having success in the Olympics."
The presence of four of Rizzotti's former players in Tennessee illustrates the family atmosphere that surrounds the UHart women's basketball program‑-and the relationships that have been built.
"All of my players who played for me at Hartford are such a big part of my life,” Rizzotti said. “They know that my past at UConn and my playing career are a big part of who I am. They also know that much of what I take into my coaching career comes from my experience at the University of Connecticut. It's just nice to be able to share with them this amazing accomplishment and for them to be as excited about it as I am."
Rizzotti will enter her 15th year at the helm of the UHart basketball program, having guided the Hawks to the NCAA tournament six times. Her 276 career victories are the most wins among all current and former America East head coaches.
"Coaching is fun for me because it's so much more challenging. As a player, all I had to do was worry about getting myself ready physically and having the right mental focus,” Rizzotti recalls, “but as a coach you are trying to instill that into 14 different players."