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Koclanes leaving Dartmouth women’s basketball after eight seasons

  • Belle Koclanes

  • Dartmouth women's basketball coach Belle Koclanes talks to her team from the bench during their game with Rhode Island on Nov. 24, 2017 in Hanover, N.H.(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/24/2021 10:34:15 PM
Modified: 2/24/2021 10:34:13 PM

HANOVER – Dartmouth College women’s basketball coach Belle Koclanes’ calling card the last eight years has been the phrase “Mind on 18.”

The mantra alludes to the Big Green’s drive for an 18th Ivy League championship. She ingrained it in her program’s culture, recruiting and game planning. It was found all over the team’s social media pages and brought up constantly in interviews.

She will depart Hanover without the 18th trophy; the Big Green’s last conference championship came in 2009.

On Wednesday, Dartmouth announced Koclanes has accepted a position as the president of the non-profit Strive: How You Lead Matters. Located in Wilmington, Del., the organization focuses on spreading the power of character-driven leadership.

During her seven seasons pacing the Leede Arena sidelines, the Big Green went 77-117 overall and 34-64 in the Ivies.

“I’d like to thank the college, athletic department and our Dartmouth women’s basketball family across every generation and roster for the opportunity to wear the Green,” Koclanes said in the release. “It was an honor to lead our women’s basketball program these past eight seasons, and I look forward to celebrating our 18th championship in the very near future.”

When she inherited the program in 2013, the Big Green was coming off four consecutive losing seasons. Still, she was taking over for Chris Wielgus, who took the Big Green to the NCAA Tournament six times in 20 years in her second stint with the college.

Dartmouth went 5-23 in Koclanes’ inaugural season, but showed some growth year-to-year. In year two, the program got over the .500 mark in Ancient Eight play and finished 14-14 overall and 7-5 in league play.

Turns out she would only cross the .500 threshold one more time in 2017-18, when Dartmouth finished 15-12 and 9-4 in the conference. It was her only winning record in seven seasons.

The Big Green has failed to qualify for the Ivy League Tournament since its inception in 2017. The highlight of the 2019-20 campaign was a 63-62 victory over archrival Harvard at Leede.

“Although I did not get the opportunity to work with Belle, I do appreciate her eight years of service to the college and athletics department,” interim Dartmouth athletic director Peter Roby said in a statement. “Belle provided us with passion and leadership and set high standards for student-athletes and the program, and I’m sure we will continue to see evidence of that into the future. I want to wish her the best in the next chapter of her career.”

Koclanes’ last day on the job will be March 31. Dartmouth will launch a national search for only its fifth coach in program history.

Pete Nakos can be reached at

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