Feb. 22, 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Joe Mitch
Women's basketball liaison is second recipient
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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 basketball.


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 in Indianapolis.

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 previous winner.

"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 314-795-6821.

Related link:
Mary Jo Haverbeck Award