The Wolfpacker

January 2017

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 38 of 103

JANUARY 2017 ■ 39 WHEREARETHEYNOW? "My friend taught me how to play, and so he and his friends, who were all older guys, would pick me for their team," she said. "I got to play against a lot of guys, mostly older, and that led to a instant acceptance among the people who played there. That's where my love of the game began and grew — plus, I'm a competitive person by nature." A four-year starter at Clifton Forge High School (1973-77), where she also ran track and played "a little" volleyball, Lacey at- tracted enough attention as a points-produc- ing power forward that all the early women's basketball collegiate powers came calling. Rutgers, Maryland, Tennessee (where a new coach named Pat Summitt was building the foundation of a legendary program) and Old Dominion were among those knocking down her door. "My parents wanted me to go to Virginia because it was close," Lacey said. However, Lacey's college destination may have been cemented six years earlier, when, as a 12-year-old, she attended a hoops camp at Washington & Lee University and listened to a speech by a memorable guest speaker. "Kay Yow came to the camp and gave a talk that stressed the importance of pass- ing," Lacey recounted. "Most coaches talk about offense or defense. Coach Yow's whole theme was being willing to give up a good shot for a great one, being willing to give up the ball so your team can be successful. "It made quite an impression on me, and when I made my official visit, I remembered that talk. Also, I wanted to help Coach Yow build a program and win a national cham- pionship." From 1977 through 1981, Lacey — who became the first African-American female to earn a four-year scholarship at NC State with her arrival — played on teams that won a combined 105 games while losing just 30. Teaming with future All-American Genia Beasley, the Pack's all-time scoring and re- bounding leader, as well as standouts Ginger Rouse, Connie Rogers and Ronnie Laughlin, Lacey helped the Pack win at least 21 games all four years, including a 29-5 mark in 1977- 78 that remains the single-season high for wins and produced NC State's highest final national ranking, third. "We had great teammates — we stay in touch to this day," Lacey said. "I think that's one of the reasons that made those years so special. We were building something spe- cial. Obviously, I wanted to win a national championship, but every time we got close it seemed someone else was always in the way." Before the NCAA took over the women's basketball championships in 1982, the wom- en's game was administered on the national level by the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). All four years, the Pack won its state AIAW tournament, earning Lacey four consecutive selections to the All-AIAW tournament team, but fell to four different foes in regional play. "I probably remember the losses more than the wins," Lacey admitted. "But the biggest memories are just sharing that time with my teammates, the ups and downs, wins and losses, having people support and care about you. We had a great following with very supportive fans. It was a very nurturing environment." Starting all four years in Raleigh while playing four different positions, Lacey was the first four-time All-ACC honoree in con- ference history, helping the Pack to the ACC title game all four years and the tournament crown in 1980. Named the Pack's MVP in 1979 and 1981, she exited with the fifth-most career points in program history (1,957), third-highest re- bounding total (1,051), fourth-most double- doubles (40), and a top-10 finish in virtu- ally every statistical category except assists (where she's 15th with 335). She was a finalist for the Wade Trophy, given to the nation's top women's college player, in 1981, and was named an All- American by the Women's Sports Federation in 1980. Her old high school and college number, 22, is now hanging in the rafters at Reynolds Coliseum as one of the handful to be re- tired. In 2002, she received another collegiate honor when she was named to the ACC's 50th Anniversary team. Even before ending her college days, Lacey enjoyed the beginnings of an interna- tional career in hoops, playing on the 1978 USA Select Team during a tour of Asia and the silver-medal winning 1981 World Uni- versity Games team. She also played for the 1982 USA National Team that won gold in the Ferend Hepp Memorial Tournament in Hungary and the 1983 World University Games squad that also brought home gold. Following graduation, Lacey pursued her first basketball goal, working as an assistant at Manhattan College and James Madison University, before returning to Raleigh to serve as an assistant to Yow for two years in 1983-84. With the WNBA still more than a decade in the future, Lacey opted in 1985 to resume her playing career overseas in Italy. "It was a great experience," she said. "We won the European championship, and I got to travel and see a lot of the world. It was an educational experience within itself. I think that's what whetted my appetite for interna- tional travel." Her friendship with NC State men's coach Jim Valvano led to a conversation that helped convince Lacey to return to coaching in 1987. "My agent still thinks it wasn't the best decision," she said with a chuckle. Returning to the coaching ranks, Lacey led Francis Marion College to a 53-12 re- cord in 1987-88 and a top-20 NAIA Divi- sion II national ranking both years. Moving on to the University of South Florida, she spent eight years with the Bulls and a final season as an assistant at Maryland before becoming assistant director for women's programs for USA Basketball in 1997. During her four full-time years with the national program, Lacey helped plan and execute all the trials, training camps and in- ternational competitions for the country's various women's teams, culminating with the gold-medal winning 2000 Summer Olympics squad in Sidney, Australia. In 2001, a call from a former college rival steered Lacey onto a new career path and helped realize another life's goal. TRAILBLAZER Pack Women's Basketball Legend's Diverse Career Continues To Accept All Challenges Trudi Lacey Women's Basketball (1977-81) Age: 58 Living: Charlotte Occupation: Athletics Director at Johnson and Wales Did you know? Lacey is one of just three former NC State women's basketball players to have scored at least 40 points in one game. ? WHERE ARE THEY NOW

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolfpacker - January 2017