COLLEGE BEAT: St. Joseph turns to Wallingford’s Gade to pilot the basketball ship

COLLEGE BEAT: St. Joseph turns to Wallingford’s Gade to pilot the basketball ship

WALLINGFORD — Brandon Gade has played basketball since he could remember.

He played youth ball while growing up in Wallingford and was a captain on the Sheehan basketball team.

Gade said he knew his hardwood career wouldn’t result in a professional contract, but always knew he wanted to stay involved in the game. So he turned his sneakers in for a clipboard and a whistle.

Following his graduation from Sheehan in 2007, he turned his attention to the sideline. Gade served as an assistant for seven years — the last five on the college level.

At 28, Gade has earned his first head coaching position with the University of St. Joseph-West Hartford women’s basketball team.

“I always had the goal to run my own program,” Gade said. “The hard work that I’ve put in and all of the coaches I’ve worked under, I think I’m ready. I’ve learned from everybody. It means a lot to get a head coaching job in Connecticut where friends and family can come support me. It means a lot.”

After Sheehan, Gade went to Southern Connecticut for a year before transferring to UConn, where he had first-hand experience watching Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma. He had the demanding task of being a male practice player against the UConn women.

Gade had an in into the women’s game. His brother Matt was a manager and a graduate assistant at UConn.

“Without question, it was a great experience,” Gade said. “Learning from the best coach I’ve ever seen and his assistants Chris Dailey, Shea Ralph and Jamelle Elliott. They all have great knowledge of the game. After that, I was all-in on coaching.”

After a season with the Huskies, Gade turned to the high school ranks right around the corner in Storrs. He was an assistant two years for the E.O. Smith girls basketball team.

Then he moved on the college sidelines with stops at Queens University of Charlotte, Albertus Magnus, Yale and Manhattan.

“I learned from all of those coaches that there’s more to basketball than the coaching aspect of it,” Gade said. “It’s about helping your student-athletes later in life. Helping them get into grad school, get a job and get an internship. Build that solid relationship to help them accomplish their goals in future.”

When it comes to X’s and O’s, Gade said he’s more of an offensive-minded coach who likes to push the tempo.

“But I also believe that defense wins championships,” Gade said. “I’m super-competitive and I love the competition. I take joy in watching players develop over time and getting better every day and every month and every year. That’s a little reward for you. I have a competitive nature. I can’t play any more, but I’m competitive. The strategy is always something I’ve enjoyed. It’s like a chess match.”

Yale senior guard Meg McIntyre was under Gade’s tutelage during his time in the Ivy League.

“He is an incredible coach who helped me grow in my college career,” McIntyre said. “I think he will do great in his new position.”

Gade is already busy putting the pieces together for St. Joe’s. He already has recruiting trips planned for New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

“We have some blue-collar kids that have a strong passion for the game and a strong passion for the University of St. Joseph and will work extremely hard,” Gade said.

St. Joseph Athletic Director Bil Cardarelli said he was impressed with Gade’s work ethic and experience. Gade was chosen out of a group of 80 applicants.

“He has a wealth of experience as an assistant from the Division I to the Division III level and he has a great deal of experience recruiting Division III athletes,” Cardarelli said. “Brandon did an excellent job in the interviews and it a great fit for us.”

One of the coaches Gade worked under was Chris Gobrecht at Yale. Gobrecht has since moved on to the Air Force Academy where she serves as the Falcons head coach.

“He has a real passion for coaching,” Gobrecht said. “The Ivy League doesn’t allow us to pay all of our assistant coaches what they need to be paid, and Brandon was our third assistant. He did a great job coaching while having a part-time job on the side. Brandon was always dedicated and prepared, and has a real heart for the women’s game.

“It’s important for him to stay in the women’s game because that is where his heart is and he really has respect women players, and that’s important to me.”

Gobrecht said Gade is ready to head his own team.

“He’s a good guy and will serve the game well,” Gobrecht said. “I’m cheering for him from afar.”


Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.

Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢

Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.

Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢