MANSFIELD - The only moment of doubt Alison Tagliaferri experienced through the process of becoming Mansfield University's newest women's basketball coach was the final call to confirm she was indeed the school's choice.
"I know when these searches open there's a lot of very qualified people. I was trying to prepare myself for either decision," said Tagliaferri, a 2001 Jersey Shore High School graduate. "When they called an told me about the job I asked if he was joking, but I really didn't think he was joking. It made for a funny lead in story."
All joking aside, Tagliaferri stood out to Mansfield for so much more than simply attending the school as an undergraduate student.
Alison Tagliaferri and Mansfield president Dr. Allen Golden
"It was certainly important, but it wasn't the most important item to me," interim President Allan Golden said after Tagliaferri's introduction press conference. "It's certainly nice to bring Alison back to the University, but for me it's more about what she can bring to the University and the program. I wanted someone I believe can take the program to a higher level. For me this is all about growing the University."
Tagliaferri was named assistant coach last July and was promoted to interim head coach two weeks later when former head coach Ruth Hermansen took a position in student affairs at Mansfield.
The Mountaineers went 5-21 this past season. Tagliaferri's previous coaching stops were at Penn College from 2007-2010 and at EAstern in 2010-11 and West Chester in 2011-12 after earning a Master's in Education from Lock?Haven.
Tagliaferri, whose brother Nick is the head boys basketball coach at Hughesville High School, finished her historic career at Mansfield as the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,795 points. The completeness of her game can be seen in her other notable records, including top ranks in both blocks (130) and free throws made (457). She is also fourth in rebounds with 852.
Her senior season at Mansfield was lined with PSAC player of the year honors, becoming the first athlete in Mansfield's history to earn the award. And just for fun, while helping the basketball team earn its first playoff berth in school history, Tagliaferri was also named to the All-PSAC East softball team three times.
That could give Tagliaferri an edge when it comes to caring for the athletes who become part of the program.
The anxiety of being away from home. The struggles of playing at a high level. The fact players are on their own for the time in their lives.
These are all aspects of the adjustment process Tagliaferri will have lived through and overcome.
"I like to think I'm very relatable," Tagliaferri said. "It wasn't that long ago when I was going through the same process. I'm a young coach, and have a lot of energy and passion for this program."
Midway through last year's season Tagliaferri was thrown into the mix as Mansfield's interim coach. Although wins were far and few between, Tagliaferri never lowered her expectations. She continued to push the team and more importantly expected the same kind of hustle and effort she used to become a member of the Mansfield University Athletic/Alumni Hall of Fame and the West Branch Hall of Fame.
"There weren't a lot of wins last year, but she didn't have much to work with," Mansfield's Director of Athletic Operations and Sports Information, Steve McCloskey said. "There is just a confidence. She instills confidence in people. Nobody is harder on herself than she is. You only have to be around her a short amount of time to know there is something special about Alison Tagliaferri."