Last night, the Verona Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of Verona resident Pat Coyle as head coach of Verona High School girls basketball for the 2023-2024 season. Coach Coyle has made an impact at virtually every level of basketball ranging from middle school children on town recreation teams to the New York Liberty in the WNBA.
After winning a national championship as a player on the 1982 Rutgers University women’s team, Coach Coyle went on to successfully coach many Division 1 women’s basketball teams, including the University of Miami, Rutgers, St. Joseph’s University, Loyola (Maryland), University of Pittsburg and St. Peter’s University. Coach Coyle spent 10 years with the New York Liberty, where she led players including Rebecca Lobo, Teresa Weatherspoon and Becky Hammon, on many successful campaigns.
Although Coach Coyle is originally from Philadelphia, she is a now a vital part of the Verona community. She is often found on the sidelines of her son Jake’s travel basketball games, offering guidance to other coaches during their practice, or cheering on the players on various youth teams in town as a devoted fan. “Pat Coyle has been a coach without compare,” says Jim Cunningham, Verona’s director of community services. “Her abilities are based in developing the best player in the heart of every child.”
One might wonder why, after coaching at the pinnacle of the basketball world, Coach Coyle would want to dive into the New Jersey high school basketball scene. Friend and former high school coach Jen Quinn thinks she has an answer to that question. “Patty is a great human, shaped by impactful life experiences on and off the court,” Quinn says. “She has the perfect, but very difficult to replicate, combination of wisdom, selflessness and competitiveness. She had wonderful, important coaches in her life and I’d be willing to bet this is her way of paying it forward. Patty will provide the VHS squad with the motivation to succeed on the court and in the classroom. They’ll also be given the tools to make a difference in the world after graduation. I wish I could go back and play for Coach Patty.”
While the VHS team is losing many talented players to graduation, Gabby Egnezzo and Julia Louden will be back to provide steady leadership. Point guard Cali Giacomazza is a willing passer and a crafty, three-level scorer. “I am excited to get started with Coach Coyle,” says incoming sophomore Jada Bednar. “I’m sure she is going to be great for our team.”
Even the head coach of the Caldwell girls’ basketball team, Amanda Keenan, is excited. “Although we coach rival teams, I’m very excited for Essex County girls basketball,” she says. New Jersey girls high school basketball is typically dominated by teams “down the shore” and by the Rutgers Prep teams lead by Coach Coyle’s twin sister, Mary Klinger. Could a twin showdown be in the world as Verona girls begin to make their mark? That could be a matchup for many New Jersey high school sports fans.
Coach Coyle also plans to stay involved in Verona’s youth basketball program. Fellow Verona youth coaches know how valuable this will be for the town’s younger players. Girls’ middle school travel coach Dave Aromando believes that Coach Coyle’s love of the game is both undeniable and infectious. “Having watched Pat coach several Verona youth teams the last few seasons,” Aromando says, “it became clear that her players’ determination and passion on the court was directly attributed to her leadership.”
Coach Coyle can’t wait for the new VHS season to begin. “I’m thrilled to lead the VHS girls basketball program forward,” she says. “There’s a great foundation to build upon with the returning players and incoming class.”