POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Erin Doughty grew up in Meriden and developed her love for basketball as a kid in the Silver City.
In April, at age 38, she will become the head coach of women’s basketball at Division I Marist College.
A 16-year veteran of the program and its associate head coach for the past three seasons, Doughty will replace outgoing head coach Brian Giorgis.
Giorgis handpicked Doughty to succeed him. She officially takes the reins on April 1.
“I had never really thought about coaching in college,” said Doughty, who was a walk-on player in her undergraduate days at Marist. “I didn’t know there were full-time jobs and careers. I always knew I wanted to be around the game in some capacity. I assumed it would be a high school role. But it’s kind of cool how everything fell into place.”
It all started at St. Stanislaus in Meriden. Doughty — then Erin Leger — played at St. Stan’s from fifth through eighth grade. She also played in the Ben Nessing League on Saturday mornings.
Inspiration was very close to home.
“When I was 10-years old the UConn women went undefeated and it gave me players to look up to,” she said recently. “That’s how I started to get the itch and I’ve been playing and been around the game ever since.”
Erin played her high school ball at Holy Cross. Her mother Peggy was principal of the Waterbury school at the time and the family eventually moved to Middlebury.
In high school, Erin helped Holy Cross finish as Class L state-runner up in 2002. She was the program’s top 3-point shooter by the time she was done playing for the Crusaders. She also played volleyball at Holy Cross.
Her college search ended when she got to Marist. She was a walk-on player for the Red Foxes from 2002-2005. Her freshman year was also the first year of Coach Giorgis, who went on to turn Marist into a dominant team in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Doughty remembers visiting Marist and meeting Giorgis for the first time and deciding that Poughkeepsie was where she wanted to be.
“She’s been with me since Day 1 of my tenure,” Giorgis said. “I remember her walking in with her mom and asking if she could try out for the team. She wanted to be a part of something.
“I was familar with her because, in AAU, she played with the Bristol Bandits and they played against my Hudson Valley Knights team.”
Doughty appeared in 12 games during her Marist career. A Psychology major, she was a a two-time MAAC All-Academic.
Then came here fateful senior year. One of Giorgis’ assistant coaches needed to go home to help an ailing family member and Doughty stepped in. That’s how her coaching career started — as a senior at Marist.
“When she accepted to be a student coach, that first meeting with my staff it was like she had been coaching for years,” Giorgis said. “She provided much more input than we expected.”
Doughty got her Bachelor’s in 2006, her Masters in 2008. All the while, she was coaching.
“I started out as a student assistant and then a grad assistant,” Doughty recalled. “I did a lot of film, travel planning and meals, aside from the on-the-court coaching. I was in that role for five years and I gained more experience.
“After that, I got into more recruiting and spent every July on the road at different AAU events. The people ahead of me in positions moved on and Coach Giorgis felt comfortable moving me up.”
She has seen plenty of success with the program — 12 MAAC championships, 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, five NCAA Tournament victories, including an unforgettable trip to the Sweet 16 in 2007. There have been MAAC winning streaks of 35 and 34 games.
Ten years ago, Giorgis’ top assistant, Megan Gebbia, moved on to take the head coaching position at Wake Forest. Giorgis filled the vacancy with Doughty.
“At that time, I told him I wanted to be a head coach and he started working me for that,” Doughty said. “He started giving me that responsibility and showed me what a head coach does. In the last couple of years he talked about wanting to step away. He came to the decision last spring that it was his last year. The administration decided I was the fit.”
“I was really surprised,” Doughty added. “Marist is a special place for me and my family. I was excited to get the job. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought there would be interviews and I am grateful that they had that much faith in me and promote me to head coach.”
Doughty met her future husband Mike at Marist. He was the sports information department when the Red Foxes made their Sweet 16 run during the 2007 NCAA Tournament, beating Ohio State and Middle Tennessee State before falling to Tennessee. Doughty was in her second year as an assistant.
The couple will be married for 10 years in June. They live in Poughkeepsie with their son Chase, 8, and daughter Fallon, 4.
“The girls are like big sisters to my kids,” Doughty said. “It’s a great environment. We went to Ireland over Thanksgiving and my family got to go. We got to have great family experiences with the team. Growing up around people who work so hard to reach goal is going to be very valuable for them.”
Doughty said she will run the same motion offense that Marist has thrived in under Giorgis.
“The basketball side at Marist will be similar under me,” Doughty said. “We are different personalities. I’m more of a relationship-driven coach with my players. I like to make that connection where they know I care and want to fulfill your potential. I’m a mom of two and very close with my family. I want our team to be an extension of that. I want them to compete hard for each other. I’m hoping to instill that kind of culture. We already have a great culture here, so we won’t have to do too much in that area.”
“I want to be around people who want to work hard,” she added. “I want to work hard for them and I want them to work hard for me.”
Giorgis has no doubt that Doughty will succeed.
“She has a brilliant mind; she understands our system as good as anyone,” Giorgis said. “At the beginning, I was amazed how much she knew. She picked up the recruiting part quickly.
“She’s very personable. She really has incredible relationships with our players. She has that motherly-type connection with people. She’s very caring, which is the biggest thing. You see it in her (children). She’s got tremendous patience — much more than I do. She has all the characteristics as a head coach.”
Giorgis announced his retirement last April, well before the 2022-23 season, to provide a stable transition, both for the team and for Doughty.
“She’s been a part of 12 championships at Marist and everything we’ve done in the last 21 years she’s been a part of,” Giorgis said.
Doughty still has Meriden connections. Her uncle and aunt, Pete and Maryanne Maloney, still live in town along with their children, Regan and Riley Maloney, who were multi-sport athletes at Maloney High School.
Also on the Marist staff is Meriden native Kiah Gillespie, who was hired just prior to the current season, which wrapped up Saturday at Rider. Beyond that is the MAAC Tournament, which opens Tuesday in Atlantic City.