A True Coach: Trudi Lacey Redefines Leadership

First-year Mystics’ assistant coach Trudi Lacey is a business woman, a motivator, and a life coach. Off the court, she has advised executives at State Farm, Wachovia, and ESPN. And in case you were wondering, her basketball credentials aren’t too shabby.

“I really think one of my specialty areas is in the development of players both mentally and physically,” Lacey said. “I want the players to understand their games and the intangibles that it takes to win. I think I can help with the mental toughness of our team.”

After assistant Vanessa Nygaard resigned this March due to personal reasons, head coach Julie Plank tapped Lacey, an old friend and former colleague at USA Basketball, to fill the vacancy.

“I’m really pleased to be here. There are great people here,” Lacey said. “I’m really pleased to be back in the league and I really think we have the opportunity to do something special.”

Lacey earned All-American honors at N.C. State playing under Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow. After coaching collegiately for over a decade, with stops at South Florida and the University of Maryland along the way, Lacey headed west to Colorado Springs to work for USA basketball in 1996.

At USA basketball, Lacey taught life skills courses to players of all levels, a discipline that eventually evolved into Lacey & Co. an executive-level life coaching firm. In 2000, Lacey accompanied the men’s and women’s senior national teams to the Sydney Summer Olympics.

After the Olympics, Lacey joined longtime friend and WNBA coaching veteran Ann Donovan as an assistant with the Charlotte Sting. Lacey eventually became the Sting’s head coach and later the general manager before the franchise folded in 2006.

Presently, Lacey is the head coach at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. This is her first year coaching simultaneously at the pro and college levels.

“There’s not a lot of rest going from one season to the next,” Lacey said. “I think the WNBA is more in my comfort zone. I love the competition and the athletes. It’s more pure basketball.”

Despite relocating from Charlotte to D.C., Lacey’s new team has a familiar Tobacco Road flavor. A league-high six Mystics played college basketball in the ACC.

“It feels great for us to be able to represent the ACC,” Said Lacey, an N.C. State graduate. “Having either played against each other or coached against each other has helped build camaraderie. I’ve been telling everybody we’ve got to represent.”

Though training camp is still a couple of weeks away, Lacey is pleased with what she’s seen in team workouts. With a revamped roster and a new coaching staff, Lacey believes that the Mystics have a winning combination.

“I think all the pieces are there for us to have a really good season,” Lacey said.