by Charles Guthrie
You can call it a dream come true.
For quite some time, Lynn Milligan had wanted to become a head basketball coach somewhere on the collegiate level and eventually return to her alma mater.
After 15 years of working as an assistant coach, Milligan was offered the chance to achieve both of her goals when she was presented the opportunity to coach here at Rider.
“I always wanted to return back to Rider to coach,” Milligan said. “I never wanted to be someone that moved around from place to place.”
Milligan realized that coaching was the perfect profession for her because it was something she has been around her whole life.
“It was early, around my junior or senior year in high school,” Milligan said. “It’s something I always wanted to do. All of my jobs revolved around coaching in some way.”
Milligan was no one-trick pony in college. She played basketball, but was also a fairly talented softball player.
The new coach had more than 100 career hits in her three seasons on the Rider softball team, and was a part of the team that went to the 1990 East Coast Conference Championship. The team also made a run to the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship in 1991.
“I came here to play basketball,” Milligan said. “I talked to some people and I had an opportunity to play softball. Basketball was my sport, though.”
While at college, Milligan even centered her education around coaching so it would help her in the future. She said part of the reason that she chose speech communication as a concentration was so she would be able to communicate with her players when she became a coach. When she came back for her master’s degree, she chose counseling so that she would be more well-rounded.
Former coach Eldon Price realized that Milligan had a will to become a coach. When she graduated, he offered her a position as a graduate assistant. The position hadn’t been available at Rider until she was given the job.
“[Price] made me do a bit of everything,” she said. “I learned that coaching is more than just hanging around the gym all day long. I learned that was just a misconception; you have to build a program. That includes being involved in recruiting, and the development of your team, among other things.”
Eventually, the then-Rider grad was given her first coaching gig as an assistant at Central Connecticut State. After a year, she followed one of her colleagues to Drexel, where she landed her next assistant’s job.
“I worked with Kevin Murphy, who got the head coaching job at Drexel,” Milligan said. “He was very efficient. He taught me that you had to be very organized as a coach. He was the first type- A personality coach I worked with.”
After six years of coaching at Drexel, Milligan was able to stay in the Philadelphia area when she took her next job as an assistant at St. Joseph’s University.
As an assistant for the Hawks, she was one of the recruiting coordinators. She would organize whom recruiters wanted to meet with and whom to go after. While at the position, three of her last five recruiting classes were nationally ranked.
While she was there, she wanted to be like Head Coach Cindy Griffin and get the chance to return to her alma mater and coach.
After serving a six-year stint with the Hawks, Milligan’s dream job became a reality.
“I’ve been really fortunate that Don Harnum offered me the chance to coach here,” she said.
The new coach said she has been lucky enough to work with a lot of good coaches who have helped her as she moved up the ranks.
As for taking over a Rider team that has been getting blown out of the water night in and night out, she just remembers when Price took over and what he was able to do for the program.
“We started off the same because we only had four wins,” she said. “He taught us how to win and compete, and the next year we won 14 games.”