‘This isn’t about me’: Tricia Fabbri reacts to her 500th career victory


Benjamin Yeargin

Quinnipiac women’s basketball head coach Tricia Fabbri is now the second Quinnipiac coach in school history to surpass 500 career wins along with men’s hockey head coach Rand Pecknold.

Zack Hochberg, Staff Writer

Quinnipiac women’s basketball head coach Tricia Fabbri embodies what it means to be a Bobcat, and she added to her long list of accolades with the program on Feb. 16, eclipsing 500 wins as head coach. 

In the midst of her 28th season at the helm, Fabbri is doing what she has always done — putting her team in a position to cut down the nets in March. 

However, Fabbri’s success didn’t start at Quinnipiac. She played under Dianne Nolan at Fairfield, who now serves as an ESPN broadcaster for Quinnipiac basketball games, as well as one of Fabbri’s mentors. 

“I have so much gratitude that I have a person in my life who has become a dear friend, but it is so important, especially in this day and age, back in the day coaching while having a family, it didn’t happen, but I saw in her how it could happen,” Fabbri said. 

With Nolan as a role model, Fabbri began her coaching career starting as an assistant in 1991 for the Stags before taking the head coaching job at Quinnipiac in 1995. Fast forward three decades, Fabbri boasts over 500 wins, two MAAC Coach of the Year awards and three NCAA tournament appearances. 

The early days with the Bobcats, who were known as the Braves at the time, were rough – going a combined 33-97 in her first five seasons – but it helped shape who Fabbri is and where this program is today. 

Fabbri and men’s hockey coach Rand Pecknold both started coaching around the same time. Pecknold joined Quinnipiac in 1994, just a year before Fabbri. Once Fabbri arrived, the two were forced to share an office. 

“I think learning the backstory to how you took those steps to get where you wanted to go, that’s where the story is, Fabbri said. “Rand has built a national power, we’ve been to a Sweet 16, and we started literally in a janitor’s closet literally with a desk, a chair and one phone.” 

Pecknold has never been shy of his support of the other Quinnipiac athletic teams, often sending his players to sit in the stands of their games. 

“We basically started out together, she’s a great coach and a great person,” Pecknold said. “It’s a great place to work and I’m really impressed with all the coaches in this building.” 

On the court and ice, Fabbri and Pecknold both watched their programs and the university grow, as Quinnipiac went from the Braves to the Bobcats, from NCAA Division II to Division I, and for Fabbri, from the NEC to the MAAC. 

Quinnipiac is home for Fabbri, as she has raised a family here in Connecticut. 

“It’s been a multitude of different opportunities staying at the same place,” Fabbri said. “Ultimately, having the ability to coach at the Division I level and then also, for me personally, to have a family and not have to relocate with a young family gave me the best of both worlds.” 

With Fabbri at the helm, Quinnipiac became a successful basketball program, ultimately capturing its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013 after winning the NEC Tournament. 

The tournament berth catapulted Quinnipiac’s program, as it made the jump from the NEC to the MAAC soon after in 2013-14. 

Quinnipiac made an immediate mark on its new conference, as it advanced all the way to the 2014 MAAC title game before losing to Marist. As a No. 4 seed, the Bobcats were able to upset No. 1 Iona to make it to its second-straight conference championship game and earn a bid to the WNIT. 

The success kept coming for Fabbri’s squad, making multiple runs at both the MAAC and NCAA tournaments, before entering the national spotlight in 2016-17 when it reached the Sweet 16. The Bobcats’ run included upset victories over Marquette and Miami, before ultimately falling to eventual NCAA Champion South Carolina. 

“The longevity she’s had, not only coaching and winning, but running a high-class program and representing the school,” Quinnipiac men’s basketball head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “She’s treated me incredibly since the day I’ve gotten here and I’m so appreciative.” 

The banners hanging in Lender Court that signify team success mean more to Fabbri than the fresh one celebrating her 500th win, because it wouldn’t be possible without her players. 

Once Fabbri secured win No. 500 against Mount St. Mary’s, her team decorated the locker room, but she didn’t want to celebrate just yet. 

“Honestly we got to the locker room and they were ready to do the big celebration, but I actually asked them to stop,” Fabbri said. “Ultimately this isn’t about me or what I’m doing and getting 500 wins, it’s really about us and what we’re trying to achieve this season, one game at a time.” 

Fabbri’s focus was never on a regular season game. That game was just a stepping stone for where the Bobcats want to be at the end of the season – cutting down the nets and heading to an NCAA tournament. 

“I’m very much old school, we’ll celebrate when we cut down the net,” Fabbri said. “That’s what we do.” 

Like Pecknold and Dunleavy, Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey head coach Cass Turner has seen Fabbri’s excellence up close and is appreciative of it too. 

“Her drive to want to be great and to want to create a phenomenal experience for her student-athletes, that’s what’s gotten her here,” Turner said. “And it’s been really, really neat to watch.” 

Fabbri appreciates the opportunity at hand to mentor those who are just starting out in their coaching careers, just like Nolan did for her over three decades ago. 

“It’s so great to have people in your corner that are going to really tell you (the) truth,” Fabbri said. “That’s what I try to do, when they’re down it’s like ‘hey, onward,’ … when you have failure that is the greatest opportunity for success.” 

Fabbri felt failure early on, never reaching double-digit wins in her first five years at the university, but she’s now secured back-to-back 20 win seasons with her eyes set on bigger prizes: a MAAC championship and the NCAA Tournament.