In her 29th season as Western’s women’s basketball head coach, Carmen Dolfo reached her 600th win, becoming the 36th active women’s basketball head coach across all divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association to reach this milestone.
Dolfo started coaching for Western in 1990 when she took over for Lynda Goodrich, the only other coach in the history of the women’s basketball program at Western.
This is the 73rd time in NCAA history a coach has reached their 600th win. Dolfo coached her 600th win for the Vikings in a 73-60 win against Seattle Pacific University on Jan 11.
Dolfo played basketball for Western from 1984-1986, where she earned National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-America honors as a senior. Dolfo helped bring the Vikings to the national quarterfinals, averaging 16.8 points per game.
“I never thought I'd be coaching this long,” Dolfo said. “I guess you always think, ‘just take it one year at a time,’ and I feel really fortunate and I think Western is a great institution.”
Dolfo said she wasn’t tracking her wins when informed she’d won 600 games. She was only focused on what she could do to help her team get better every day.
“Just to watch her work — [Dolfo is] just such a great role model,” assistant coach Stacey Turrell said. “She really just wants these girls that she brings in to develop as people and that goes hand-in-hand with winning basketball games.”
Entering her eighth year as assistant coach, Turrell was once a Viking herself, playing basketball for three years as a shooting guard and forward. From 2000-2003, Turrell set a school career record hitting 44.3% from 3-point range.
Turrell said Dolfo pushed her on and off the court, mentoring her to become the best coach possible.
“I think basketball is so much more about life than people realize,” Dolfo said. “There’s such a parallel.”
Dolfo explained the hard work, discipline and effort she teaches the team is applicable to their daily lives.
“A lot of times you don’t have your parents in college and [Dolfo] is someone that you could always go to and talk to, even if it didn’t even involve basketball,” Turrell said.
Senior center Anna Schwecke said Dolfo reinforces the concept of family on the team. Schwecke transferred to Western after playing two years at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
“Coming to a new school, in a new part of the country was pretty intimidating, but [Dolfo] made the transition so easy and just really accepted me into the program,” Schwecke said. “She just basically made me a part of her family and part of the team and program’s family.”
Senior guard Lexie Bland said Dolfo made the team so close, it’s like family; having fun and having each other's backs during game time.
“[Dolfo’s] a really good leader for all of us, she cares so much about every single one of us, too,” Bland said. “It makes it really fun to play for her also because I know that her intensity also helped me on the court. It’s inspiring.”
Bland said she expected intensity from Dolfo, but was surprised by her compassionate and caring style. Bland knew Dolfo was nice, but never expected her to care about her players so deeply.
“It means a lot to be able to get that 600 wins for all the other women that have played before her to help her reach that, too,” Bland said.