There are several moments during a coaches’ career that they will remember forever. For Megan Duffy, one of those moments took place on April 3rd, 2017 when she was named the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Miami University (OH).
The journey to Division I Head Coach for Duffy started years earlier as a standout player, including a two-time All-American honoree, at Chaminade-Julienne High School, which is less than an hour’s drive away from Miami’s campus. She grew up knowing that she wanted to be a coach, but “having a positive experience at Notre Dame and then in the professional ranks solidified my passion to stay in the game and start to learn the business from the coaching side,” said Duffy.
At the University of Notre Dame, Duffy was the 2005-06 Big East Scholar Athlete of the Year, a two-time All-American selection, and won the 2005-06 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (best player under 5’8”). She led the Irish to four NCAA Tournament berths, playing and learning from recent Hall of Fame inductee Muffet McGraw. “One of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned from Coach McGraw was the power of preparation,” Duffy said. “We never just showed up. There was always a reason why we did certain things, from scouting reports to what offense we ran to how much responsibility she gave each player on and off the court. She demands the best out of her players and staff, while holding herself to the highest possible standard.”
Following graduation, the 31st selection in the 2006 WNBA draft played in parts of three seasons with the Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty before pursuing her long-desired path of coaching. In 2009, she was hired as an Assistant Coach at St. John’s University. “I found out quickly upon getting my first job at St. John’s that I loved helping young people. Coaching allows me to give back to the game that was so good to me and impact others on a daily basis. The fun and challenging part early on was learning many of the things you never saw as a player,” said Duffy.
Following three seasons at St. John’s, she spent two seasons as the Associate Head Coach at George Washington University and three seasons an Assistant Coach at the University of Michigan, helping lead the Wolverines to the 2016-17 WNIT Championship. Her success as a player and Assistant Coach provided Duffy with numerous Head Coach opportunities over the years, but there was something special about Miami (OH) that convinced Duffy taking over the Redhawks was the right move at the right time.
Duffy inherited a Miami (OH) program that has not had a won more than 11 games during the four seasons prior to her arrival, but Duffy and her staff have been hard at work in changing the culture. Duffy emphasized, “Establishing new culture and standards are two things we attacked right off the bat. We have challenged our group to be mentally and physically tougher on a daily basis. While they understand that expectations have risen, we are still focused in year one on the daily growth that will ultimately lead to success.”
As for Duffy leading the Redhawk program less than an hour’s drive from home, she couldn’t be happier.
“The outreach from being back in Southwest Ohio has been tremendous,” said Duffy. Never would I have imagined the positive energy from local coaches, family and friends. What I think they see upon me coming back, is that I am still the same person as when I left in regard to my work ethic, character and positive energy. It will be a lot of fun to see familiar faces in the stands as we start to build Miami Basketball back to the top.”
Written originally for CollegeInsider.com on November 9, 2017.