The Cleveland Cavaliers made ripples around the league in hiring Lindsay Gottlieb on Wednesday.
The eight-year head coach of Cal is the first women’s collegiate head coach to be hired for an NBA staff. There are only two other women in the league whose roles on staff are comparable to what Gottlieb’s is expected to be, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Her journey to wanting to become a coach started in high school.
At Scarsdale High School (New York), Gottlieb initially planned to play at the collegiate level. But when she tore her ACL as a senior, it changed her college plans.
“I think that in a lot of ways, that informed my path of becoming a head coach,” she told the Cal Sports magazine that was published in January 2012.
“When you get hurt, you’re forced into looking at the game differently, looking at your own role differently.”
Stuck on the bench that season, Gottlieb’s coach gave her a shirt that said “coach” on it, according to Heavy.com.
With that experience in mind, Gottlieb started college. As a sophomore at Brown University she studied abroad in Australia as a sophomore with intentions of returning after the semester, according to the Cal Sports magazine. Instead, she stayed longer.
“It was during that year that I actually decided I wanted to coach basketball,” Gottlieb told the Cal magazine. “It combined kind of my nerdiness and the love of the X’s and O’s with the ability to impact 18- to 22-year-olds in a really significant way.”
She was a hybrid player-coach for Brown over her final season before graduating and getting an assistant coaching role at Syracuse.
The rest is history as she turned Cal into a perennial NCAA Tournament team and landed a role with the Cleveland Cavaliers under first-year head coach John Beilein.