Pearl River girls basketball coach Lorraine Moylan knew she couldn't avoid it.
With the event this Sunday, she was going to have to talk about her induction into the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Hall of Fame March 20 in Heritage Hall at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Get Moylan talking about basketball and she is happy. Ask her about her players or the coaches who influened her and has plenty to say. Ask her about her induction and she almost immediately turned the subject to Tom Collins, the former Albertus Magnus and Pearl River athletic director who will be going in with her Sunday.
"It is very humbling, especially to be inducted with Tom Collins," Moylan said. "I grew up as a kid knowing him. I got a chance to work with him and see how he did it, his work ethic. I was very fortunate to be in the sutation I was. We didn’t know any better. We never clocked in and clocked out. We knew what we had to do as far as work. You follow Tom’s lead.
"He took care of every detail. I just learned from the best."
She learned those lessons well and taught a few of her own. Since taking over as the head basketball coach for the Albertus Magnus girls basketball team in 1983, Moylan has led her teams to two state championships and five section titles, falling a game short of her sixth earlier this month. She has 493 career victories, more than any basketball coach in Rockland County history.
Moylan, a point guard at Pearl River and then at Central Connecticut State, had only worked as an assistant coach at Mercy College and at Spring Valley High School when Collins hired her.
“I knew her as a young girl; watched her play at Pearl River, and working for me at basketball camp,” Collins said. “She was enthusiastic, motivated. I knew she would be a good coach, although I didn’t know she’d be a Hall of Fame coach. She always challenged the kids … as good a coach, boys or girls, as any you’ll find. She most definitely deserves the honor.
“When I first hired her she was young, and she ran with it. She’s capable of coaching any other sport—anything, really.”
Moylan first met Collins through his work as a camp director for Evans Park in Orangetown, but also knew him through watching his teams play. She said he she was inspired by his attention to detail as well as his love for basketball.
"We could talk basketball during the day and help refine what you are doing, learning what works and what doesn’t work," Moylan said. "Learning you can outwork people. It’s a couple of things. It’s getting your kids prepared and having them play as hard as they possibly can play. Good things happen."
Moylan also pointed to her college coach, Brenda Riley and former Mercy coach Carol Schachner-Leib as mentors who helped her refine her craft. By the early '90s, she was coaching a powerhouse at Albertus Magnus, winning state championships in 1991 and '92 as part of a four-year run of section titles.
Then came the opportunity to take over the girls basketball program at Pearl River in 1993.
"That was what I wanted to do for a long time," Moylan said. "It just worked out in my favor to be able to come back here."
Moylan has seen women's basketball change dramatically through her career. Hers is a generation of female coaches who grew up with Title IX in place, something that has brought about tremendous growth in the game since the early 1970s, around the time she was starting her high school career.
"Going from playing with the guys ball to the girls ball, the three-point line," Moylan said. "It went through a tremendous growth. The speed of the game. It keeps on changing it’s gotten more and more closer to the guys game, with the athleticism of the girls changing. It’s just a great ride to see it change and grow and different things girls can do now that 15 yars ago, they weren’t coming close to the speed of the game now.
"At Albertus I had a team in 90-91, they were really good. You put them on the floor with these girls now and they might beat them basketball-wise, but these guys would run them up and down, so you don’t know who would win, but it would be interesting."
The attention focused on the sport is also a big change, one that Moylan welcomes.
"To my thinking, it’s awesome that girls could have such a following," Moylan said. "Everybody is into the game. Years ago, people weren’t coming to watch. It’s really cool, though. I try to explain to the kids. That’s why you need to know the history. If you know the history, you know how far it’s come. They take it for granted. That’s a good thing because that means everything is equal playing field, but on the same token, you should still cherish it because it is a gift to get there and play."
Moylan said her approach on the floor is has not changed much over the years. She still stresses defense and hustle, creating offense through forcing the opposition into mistakes. Her approach to dealing with the players has changed. She admits that she was much tougher on them than she is on her current players.
"I was crazy," Moylan said. "I’m still tough, but there is more of an understanding of the kids. You have to change with the times. If I did the same things I did in 1991, I’d have an empty gym. The style is pretty much the same, but it’s what you can and can’t do and your repore with the kids as different."
"She’s a hard coach, but she gets the best out of you and that’s what he wants," said Pearl River junior Christa Scognamiglio. "She wants everyone to give 110 percent effort all the time."
Moylan said that her family is the biggest reason for the change. She was married to her husband, Jim, when she started coaching, but she was not a parent yet. Her children -- 21-year-old Annie and 19-year-old Billy, both students at Rowand University in New Jersey -- were born while she worked at Albertus.
"What happens is your life," Moylan said. "Kids change everything, they give you a different perspective. My son and my daughter have helped me learn. They would come to practice when theyw ere little. I was seeing it through their eyes. They were in love with the kids, who would babysit them. They would watch them play. Now they are old enough to really have a conversation with them, it’s really cool. It helped me learn a lot, that it’s not just X’s and O’s and basketball. It is about the life skills and the connections you are making. That’s what makes it special."
Moylan said she enjoys seeing so many former players in the area, including assistant coach Kaitlin Page. She added that she has no idea when she will stop coaching, but not any time soon.
"As long as I’m enjoying what I’m doing and I think doing the best I can and not shortchanging the kids," Moylan said. "I’ve got a lot of juice left in me. The players keep me young."
There is also the matter of the current group of players, who went 20-2 and lost to Peekskill in the Section 1 Class A championship game with only one senior on the roster.
"I think they learned a lot about themselves this year," Moylan said. "They learned that when they put things together, they are like poetry in motion. We had some really great moments playing great basketball. They would get a rebound and (start) passing so the ball doesn’t touch the floor. This is a nice group.
"It’s nice to have another shot and they want to make it right, I think. Just like anything, they have to get out there and work hard from spingtime through next fall and hopefully things work out for us."
"We talked after school today and discussed what we want, how we want to get back to the County Center and hopefully win it all," Scognamiglio said Thursday. "I’m happy I have another shot. It definitely didn’t end the way we wanted it to."
The strong returning group will help. So will having a Hall of Famer to guide them.
"I think it’s a great accomplishment," Scognamiglio said. "It’s really amazing to be playing for a coach who is in the hall of fame. To say your coach is in the hall of fame is really cool."