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Dianne Nolan is looking for her biggest win come November

October 4, 2021 Andy Furman
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Add her name to the list. And what a list it is.

There’s Dave Bing, the basketball Hall of Fame shooting guard at Syracuse University and three NBA teams including the Detroit Pistons.

He became Mayor of Detroit in 2009.

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Then there’s Bill Bradley, a basketball Hall of Fame forward at Princeton University, 1964 Olympic gold medal team, and the New York Knicks.

Dollar Bill was a United States senator from New Jersey, 1979-97.

Who can forget Sharice Davids, a Mixed Martial Arts performer who fought professionally, 2013-2014 and presently serves as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Kansas’ 3rd congressional district?

In fact, just last week, she announced a $1 million grant for Pilot Program to help Kansas City youth access extracurricular opportunities.

The common denominator here – all were former American sportspeople who turned to politics.

Now you can add Dianne Nolan.

Yes, that Dianne Nolan.

Panphlets for Dianne Nolan. Photo courtesy of Andy Furman

The former women’s basketball coach at St. Francis College.

Last month, the now 70-year-old Nolan was declared winner in the Democratic primary for Town Council in the eighth district in northeast Stratford, Conn. against Dick Brown.

It wasn’t even close – she defeated him, 178 to 34.

And it wasn’t even a shocker for the former coach.

“I’ve always thought of working in politics,” she told the Eagle. “I worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and got a pretty good education.”

She’ll need it come the November election when she faces the incumbent Jim Connor who will be running for his sixth term.

Dianne Nolan has always met challenges head-on. She was hired as only the second women’s coach for the Terriers in 1974 and in only her third season she transformed a losing operation into a team that participated in a post-season tournament.

In fact, it was the Terriers first post-season tournament berth in the Eastern Intercollegiate Association Women’s Tournament. They finished second as they defeated Manhattanville College (51-50) and Oneonta State University (66-59) and lost to Fitchburg State University (63-59).

In 1976-77 she led the Terriers to a second-consecutive postseason invite to the EIAW Tournament.

“Politics and coaching are pretty closely related,” she said. “I make home door-to-door visits almost daily. It’s like recruiting a student-athlete.”

Nolan says she listens to potential voters and their concerns. 

“Some are interested in their streets not being paved; others have an issue with the schools and some are concerned with cell phone towers in their neighborhood.”

The door-to-door visits complete a full-day for Nolan.

She teaches physical education at Bridgeport (Conn.) Central High School, and broadcasts both men’s and women’s basketball games for ESPN-3.

“The City Council position will permit me to continue all my projects,” she said. “The Council meets at least once-a-month, and I’d serve on a committee – be it Zoning, Parks and Recreation or on the Board of Education.”

The Stratford Council has 10 members – and the Mayor.  The November election will also be a Mayoral election, she said.

“I was approached by the Council,” she said, “and they told me I was 92% electable. That clinched it for me – so I threw my hat in the ring.”

Her slogan, “All in for the Eighth,” is a take from her athletic background.

“Together,” she said, “we can achieve more.”

Dianne Nolan achieved much as a coach. She finished her five-year coaching career at St. Francis with a record of 61-57 (.517). She finished her career first in wins and still ranks third behind John Thurston (73) and Irma Garcia (68).

In 28 years as head coach at Fairfield (Conn.) University, she accumulated a program record 456 wins and led the Stags to four NCAA Tournament appearances. Nolan’s teams won three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships, and she earned MAAC Coach of the Year honors on five occasions. 

With Fairfield’s 69-53 victory at Rider on January 29, 2006, Nolan became the 28th coach in Division I history with 500 career wins.

Nolan is a member of the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as the St. Francis College Hall, the Fairfield Hall and her alma mater Glassboro (NJ) State.

She’s always been a winner.

Her streak should continue in November.

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR

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