Last week I was fortunate enough to sit down with recently retired women’s basketball coach Jane Albright. After a lifetime spent in the sport, Albright seemed ready for retirement.
“My dogs are very happy with it,” explained Albright, “they’ve had two walks a day instead of one.” She described conversations with people close to her that “usually would be five minutes, six minutes, and then they’d say ‘I know you gotta go,’” that can now be longer conversations.
Albright has been a head coach since her playing career ended in 1977, starting as a graduate assistant for the legendary Pat Summitt in Tennessee. Albright served as the head coach at Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and Wichita State before winding up at Nevada.
Albright has been coaching for 40 years, and her 512 wins rank in the top 50 among active division 1 head coaches.
Despite originally being from North Carolina, Albright says she plans on staying in the Reno area. She mentioned not only the people and community here in Reno, but her cabin in Tahoe.
“I could never move my cabin,” she said while cracking a smile. “Everybody that’s ever met me wants to come stay at my cabin.”
Albright recalled telling people that Nevada was her favorite head coaching job. “I don’t think anybody really believed me,” she said, “but it was. Even in the hard times.”
The university itself was a huge factor in that as well.
“Never felt like we were trying to sell used cars,” said Albright. She also cited being a national tier one university as a reason why “a degree from here is really great.”
She plans on having season tickets, and was excited to be at games to support her former players.
She told them she would “be in the stands but I will never talk basketball with you again, that aspect is done. Life maybe, but no basketball.”
She wants to be supportive of her players, but not be another coach they have to listen to.
Now that she has more time, Albright is excited to go to games to support young coaches she knows. Former assistant or not.
“Gonzaga has a young coach and a couple years ago she asked me to mentor her,” she explained. After Nevada’s season ended, she was able to watch her game and be there to support her. Throughout her career, Albright says she has received a lot of support from others, and is ready to be able to give back.
Albright also mentioned how proud she was of building a culture around the program and getting more people to the games. She thinks people in the community “really care about our kids and our program.”
When asked what she wanted her legacy to be, Albright’s answer was simple; she wants to have helped people while she was here. Not only those on her team and in the athletic community, but the whole Reno community, “whether that’s the homeless shelter or the animal shelter or just teaching Sunday school.”
“I really like to give instead of receive,” said Albright. “People are always like ‘what do you need’ and now I can be like ‘what do you need?’”
On what she would say to the next head coach, she had a short and sweet message. “They better take care of my kids,” she said. Her advice likely would not be about basketball, she would just make sure her replacement “treat them like they’re supposed to be treated, and win some ball games.”
It did not take the entire half hour or so interview to understand Albright’s mental state. Jane Albright is an old school coach who seemed to greatly value the people she met in the sport. Whether that be players or assistants or just people in the community, she genuinely seemed to enjoy being a part of it.
She was even excited to meet two of the sophomores from the school paper that came into her office on a Wednesday afternoon for an interview.
Albright will have all the free time she was deprived of as a coach, and she plans on using it to further the connections and relationships made during her career.
Jane Albright is excited to begin the next chapter of her life, and rightfully so; whatever path she goes down, she happily says “it’s gonna be a very meaningful retirement.”