Carla Berube steps down as women’s basketball coach after 17 years in charge

Coach Carla Berube poses for a portrait outside her office at Cousens Gym on May 12, 2017. Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily Archives

Tufts women’s basketball coach Carla Berube has stepped down from her position after 17 years in charge of the Jumbos to fill the head coaching position for the Princeton University Tigers. Berube will take over for previous head coach Courtney Banghart, who recently moved from Princeton to fill the vacant head coaching position at the University of North Carolina.

Berube spoke about the opportunity to lead the Tigers, who finished in second place in the Ivy League last season with an overall record of 22–10, citing the community at Princeton as an “established women’s basketball program and a perennial powerhouse in the Ivy League.”

Despite her departure, Berube also noted that leaving Tufts is bittersweet for her, reflecting on her pride and confidence in an established Jumbo program that she led to a NESCAC championship title last year as well as an elite-eight berth in the NCAA tournament.

“I think that Tufts and the Jumbos, they are in a really good spot here,” Berube said. “It’s bittersweet, and it’s hard moving on. But I know that [the Jumbos] are right for a national championship. I think that it’s never an easy time or the right time, but I think it’s just the best time for my family and me.”

Berube leaves behind an incredible legacy at Tufts and has received praise for the relationships that she built with her players as well as her competitiveness that led to her track record of success both for the Jumbos as well as her USA basketball teamsTufts Director of Athletics John Morris referred to the gratitude the Jumbos have for Berube as she moves forward in her career.

“With her tremendous success here at Tufts University and with USA Basketball, Carla has become one of the top coaches in the country,” Morris said in a statement released on GoTuftsJumbos. “Princeton has made an outstanding hire — in Carla, the Tigers are getting a truly exceptional coach, educator and person to lead their women’s basketball program. We are very sorry to see her go, and we are extremely grateful to Carla for her countless positive contributions to Tufts during her 17 years here. We wish Carla and her family all the best in this next step, and we will be cheering loudly for Carla and her continued success.”

For assistant coach and program alumnus Lauren Dillon (LA ’18), who captained Berube’s 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 squads, learning from who she believes to be one of the best coaches was a humbling and honorable experience. According to Dillon, Berube has created a permanently healthy team culture of family and winning at Tufts.

“It’s hard to put into words [just what her legacy is,]” Dillon said. “She’s an amazing coach, an extremely impactful mentor in my life, a role model and almost like a mother figure. She just cares so deeply about Tufts and about this community. Working [as an assistant coach] and playing and being her captain was a huge honor, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”

Berube’s almost two-decade reign as head coach at Tufts ends with an impressive 0.800 overall record (384–96). She leaves behind a lasting legacy, with her Tufts basketball teams known for their strong communication and tenacious defensive efforts.

Rising senior forward/guard Erica DeCandido spoke to what it was like to play for Berube.

“Every expectation is set to the highest, and she doesn’t accept anything less than your best,” DeCandido said. “She pushes you to be the best you can be no matter what. She’s really good at that, both making you work physically as hard as you can, but also mentally, and just kind of being your backbone and being a supporter along the way. It’s honestly an honor to play for her.”

Highlights of Berube’s tenure at Tufts include four consecutive Final Four runs in the NCAA tournament from 2014 to 2017, including two championship game appearances in 2016 and 2017. In the ever-competitive NESCAC conference, Berube led the Jumbos to 17 consecutive appearances in the NESCAC tournament since her first season in charge. Her teams have come out victorious on three occasions, with titles in 2014, 2015 and most recently in 2019. All three NESCAC titles corresponded with years where the Jumbos also amounted impressive NCAA tournament runs.

While Berube recounted the countless number of teams she’s coached over the years and the many road trips the teams have taken, Berube points to the 2016 NCAA national championship game in Indianapolis as the single best highlight of her 17 years at Tufts.

“It was a trip not just for my current team that year, but it was so many alums sitting in the stands cheering us on during that championship game,” Berube said. “Seeing Jumbo nation in the stands and us playing in front of thousands and thousands of people, it was just amazing.”

Meanwhile, DeCandido picked Tufts’ recent 75–69 NESCAC championship victory over Bowdoin as her favorite moment, which spoke to Berube’s ability as a coach.

“The whole NESCAC championship weekend, she started some new things and tried to motivate us in different ways and keep us calm before big moments like that,” DeCandido said. “My favorite moment was just being able to hug her [after the game] and see how happy she was to watch her hard work and our hard work together come together to accomplish this goal.”

On the national stage, Berube was also recognized for her incredible achievements. She was the recipient of the 2015 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association National Coach of the Year for Div. III. Berube also coached the US Women’s basketball team to victory in the 2017 U-16 FIBA Americas Championship and the 2018 U-17 FIBA World Cup. For her efforts in nurturing talent both at Tufts and for the national team, Berube was awarded the USA Basketball Developmental Coach of the Year award for both years.

While Berube moves on to Princeton, she reflects on the Jumbo family she has created at Tufts as one of her proudest accomplishments.

“I think that the one thing that I’m most proud of is a family that we have here, the alumni and how close they are,” Berube said. “My greatest achievement is just the support that we have, from players that I coached and from the alumni before I got here. It’s [an] amazing Jumbo basketball family, and [the] parents are part of that. To our players that are here right now and those that have graduated, it’s something that I’ve been most proud of.”

An athletics spokesperson said that Tufts will conduct a national search for Berube’s successor, with an application process that will open in the next few days. 


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