As an Adelphi basketball player, Linda Cimino ’01, M.A. ’04, was, by her own description, cerebral and intense, a passionate team leader.
As an Adelphi basketball player, Linda Cimino ’01, M.A. ’04, was, by her own description, cerebral and intense, a passionate team leader. Those same qualities have helped her climb the coaching ranks—from Panthers assistant women’s basketball coach to women’s basketball coach and assistant athletic director at Division II Caldwell University to her current stint as women’s basketball coach at Division I Binghamton University.
“Something I learned at Adelphi is the importance of building relationships,” said Cimino, an ebullient speaker. “In coaching, relationships are built on trust, caring and loyalty.”
How loyal are Cimino’s players? When she announced her departure from Caldwell, her best player, Alyssa James (the niece of Basketball Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing), followed her to Binghamton. Now in her second season as a D-I coach, Cimino faces increased media attention and public scrutiny.
“When I go to the grocery store, people know who I am,” she said, laughing. “There’s pressure to bring in the right kind of players. I recruit young women of high character who play hard. I want the player who dives on the floor for a loose ball, who touches each of her teammates’ hands when she comes off the court.”
Cimino doesn’t merely coach, she teaches life lessons, such as the importance of overcoming adversity. The native of Lincoln, Rhode Island, was 6 when her father, Raymond, a sergeant in the Chelsea (Massachusetts) Police Department, was killed in the line of duty.
“At the time, my mother had five children under the age of 9,” Cimino recalled. “She took a second waitressing job. Whatever we had to do as a family, we did it. I learned from that experience to work hard, persevere and not make excuses. Everyone faces adversity. The question is, do you run from it, or do you face it and deal with it?”
Cimino played for Kim Barnes Arico on the 1999–2000 Adelphi team that earned a postseason tournament berth. Barnes Arico, who now holds one of the most coveted jobs in women’s basketball at the University of Michigan, coached against her protégé for the first time on November 14, 2015.
“To watch her out there was a joy for me— it was kind of like watching one of your own children,” Barnes Arico told a reporter after Michigan’s 90-62 victory. “I have watched her come up the ranks—very similar to how I did—in the coaching world. I am really proud of her.”
“Kim has never forgotten where she came from,” Cimino said, “and, as a woman, I believe I have a responsibility to help pave the way for other women to get into coaching. It’s like passing the baton to the next group of female athletes.”
Others in the Adelphi family who influenced Cimino to become a coach, teacher and role model were the late Robert Hartwell, assistant vice president and director of athletics; Kate Whalen, the senior associate athletic director and compliance coordinator; Ellen Kowalski, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education; and Steve Clifford, the former men’s basketball coach who now coaches the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.
“My players know they can come into my office and talk to me about anything,” Cimino said. “I don’t have children, but I always get Mother’s Day cards from former players. That’s special.”
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