STORRS, Conn. (USBWA) – Following Monday morning's
USA Basketball Women's National Team training session at the University
of Connecticut in preparation for this summer's Olympics in Brazil,
USA Basketball Communications Director Caroline Williams
was surprised with an on-site announcement that she is the second
recipient of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Mary
Jo Haverbeck Award for service to the media in women's
Mel Greenberg, the USBWA representative for women's coverage,
made the announcement in front of a star-studded array of USA players,
USA Basketball officials, and members of the national and local
media who are here for the three-day event that began Sunday.
"We thought it was appropriate to announce our gold medal as
a surprise to Caroline, who has been around a haul of gold for the
last two decades, and in our coming here, to give her a special
golden moment in front of her extended family," Greenberg said.
Williams, a graduate of George Mason, will receive her award
on April 3 at the USBWA women's presentations before the national
semifinals at the NCAA Women's Final Four in Bankers Life Fieldhouse
The USA contingent surrounded Greenberg on the basketball court
as he began making the announcement and broke into loud applause
when he revealed Williams as the winner.
"I'm totally speechless," Williams said. "I don't know what to
say. I'm stunned. This is so flattering. I'm sure I'll be able to
address this honor much better when we get to Indy."
The award is named for Mary Jo Haverbeck, the pioneering women's
SID at Penn State, who passed away in January, 2014 after a short
illness. It is equivalent to the Katha Quinn Award on the men's
side of USBWA and of which Williams' USA boss Craig Miller is a
"Caroline is representative of MJ in every way," said Christine
Plonsky, a senior executive in the University of Texas athletic
department and member of the USA Basketball Board of Directors,
one of many to praise Williams on learning of the award. "She demonstrates
true creativity and passion in her work.
"She connects with players, coaches, coworkers and media in a
helpful genuine manner. She's friendly and just likable, thus making
any USA Basketball assignment a most worthwhile and filling experience."
At the USA Basketball site Williams' biography lists her vast
duties but USBWA is citing her for her role as the principal liason
between the organization and media on the women's side.
"There is a crew with USA Basketball that is the best in the
business at what they do and that is no different with Caroline,"
said UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma, who is back for
another stint to guide the USA fortunes that grew with more gold
under his direction in London in 2012.
"It doesn't matter what country we are in, it doesn't matter
what language the media is speaking and it doesn't matter if it's
a U-18 Team or the Olympic Team. Caroline is going to do the best
job that can be done. Dealing with coaches, players and media is
not easy when you are traveling all over the world trying to figure
that stuff out. Caroline is a professional and we are fortunate
to have her."
Adds Associated Press national women's basketball writer Doug
Feinberg, "She makes all of our jobs so much easier whether it's
helping get a quote when a player is overseas or making sure we
get to practice or a game in a foreign country. Caroline is one
of the best at what she does to assist the media."
And Carl Adamec of the Journal Inquirer here in nearby Manchester,
Conn., noted, "Caroline shows the same energy, effort, and enthusiasm
whether she's dealing with a three-time Olympic gold medalist like
Sue Bird or Tamika Catchings or a high school junior who made her
first national team.
"She's a consummate professional. Having an opportunity to go
to a USA Basketball event and to work with her is something that
I always look forward to."
When Williams is not dealing with her duties, she is usually
hiding outdoors somewhere in her beloved Rocky Mountains with her
husband Dave Bennett in Colorado Springs.
And from the players' side five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards
said, "Caroline is a secret weapon to the media wheels of USA Basketball
and our wonderful players year in and year out. She continues to
be the brightest intellect, the most poised and patient media personality
I've ever had the pleasure to work beside."
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in
1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers.
With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential
organizations in college basketball. It has selected a women's All-America
team since the 1996-97 season. For more information on the USBWA
and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at
Mary Jo Haverbeck Award