DURHAM, N.C.— Over the summer, the Blue Devils have been catching up with Duke women's basketball alumnae to see what they have been up to since leaving Durham. Up next is 1986 graduate Connie Goins. A four-year letterwinner from 1983-86, Goins scored 1,140 points and competed in 101 career contests, while starting 96. She averaged 11.3 points and 4.6 rebounds over her career. Goins was a 1986 All-ACC selection for her efforts.
Since graduating from Duke, what have you been up to?
I graduated from Duke in 1986 with a B.S. in Computer Science. I began my IT career as a computer programmer and eventually became the IT Director at Kentucky Retirement Systems. I have retired and now work part-time as an IT Consultant with the Teachers’ Retirement System of Kentucky. I have been an assistant basketball coach at my old high school for at least the last 15 years. I have taught Sunday School for 30 years now.
You were a part of the first Duke women’s basketball team to make it to a postseason tournament. As a senior, you were a part of the WNIT that played in Amarillo, Texas. What was that experience like?
Looking back, it was a privilege to be invited to the WNIT in Amarillo. At that time, the tournament was named the NWIT and only eight teams were invited. Since nearly all our road games were by bus, it was a treat to be able to fly there. The tournament staff and sponsors were great and made us feel important. We were the first Duke team to be ranked in the Top 20 and the first to play in a postseason tournament. But, I have to be honest, we had our hearts set on the first NCAA appearance. Being a senior, it was bittersweet to miss out on that, because I thought we were very deserving of an NCAA invitation. And, yes, to this day, I am still not quite over the sting. However, I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to play in a national tournament before I graduated. That’s one of the main reasons I am thrilled with the success of DWB. I live vicariously through watching the girls play basketball and represent Duke! My hope is that the current players and coaches never take for granted the honor of being ranked and the opportunity to play in a national tournament.
The team won its first game of the WNIT and you were able to play two more games. Was there a lot of excitement around Duke during that time for women’s basketball?
Perspective is a funny thing. I felt like we had many loyal supporters, especially from the swim team, volleyball team, and some core Geology students. But, today’s Cameron crowds are much larger and some of the fans even travel to away games. I love the support they receive now.
The tournament was exciting and super competitive. All three of our games were very close. I remember calling people from our hotel room after the first game because we were so excited to win Duke’s first game in a national tournament. I specifically remember calling Dr. Squire back in Durham to describe the ending of the game because I knew she hated missing that historic moment.
Have you been able to keep in touch with many former teammates/coaches?
Sure. Social media is a convenient way to keep tabs on one another, but there is nothing like a good hug and a good visit. Since I played with Katie Meier and Joanne Boyle, I try to attend all their games in the Kentucky area. I still exchange Christmas cards/pictures with Sarah Sullivan, Chris Moreland, and Carolyn Sonzogni’s parents. I usually make it to one game in Cameron every year. I have attended the Women’s ACC Tournament many times and get together with several former players/managers who live in the area. I usually stay with Candy Mikels McMahan at her alpaca farm and eat farm fresh eggs and homemade bread/jams.
I make it a point to attend all the reunions, which is a great way to meet and keep in touch with former players/coaches/managers that I both played with and did not play with. I feel like we share a bond and are all Duke family no matter when we played.
Do you still follow DWB and watch games when they are on television?
I follow DWB very closely. I watch most all the games online or on television. And, of course, whenever we beat UNC, I might watch the replay a few more times! I travelled to UConn to witness Jess Foley’s buzzer beater and to New York City to watch them play at Madison Square Garden. I love when Duke plays UK/UL in Lexington or Louisville. I have gone to St. Thomas and the Bahamas to watch their holiday tournaments. I also travelled with the team to France/Italy in 2012.
I have attended all the Final Fours. I started attending the Women’s ACC Tournament the first year Duke won it in 2000. Duke went on to win it five straight years and I began thinking that I was the reason!
Since leaving Duke, who are a few DWB players you have enjoyed watching play?
Currently, Becca Greenwell is a favorite because she is a Kentucky girl like me. Not everybody can be that lucky. I sincerely enjoy watching all the players because they do a beautiful job representing Duke. A few favorite former players include Georgia Schweitzer and Alana Beard. Georgia played similarly to me, but, she took it to a much higher level. Alana played at the highest level of athleticism and passion that I have ever seen. For those who missed seeing Chris Moreland play, you missed a treat.
When looking back on your days at Duke, what are some of your favorite memories?
First of all, I cherish all the relationships I made at Duke. It seemed everyone was impressive at something. Some of my favorite memories involve the games and trips we had during Christmas break (New York City, Miami, Tampa, Philadelphia). We just played basketball and had no classes, so it was a blast. The team dinners, pre-game meals, inside jokes, and other get-togethers were always good times. Several of my favorite games include beating Carolina at Carmichael on their senior day. We beat them both times my senior year. Each year, when spring semester final exams were over, the team rented a beach house at Myrtle Beach.
Have you developed any new hobbies, etc., that you are involved with these days?
After college, I played over 20 years of softball and volleyball. When I got too old for that, I decided to try scuba diving and fell in love with it. I have been on dive trips to Palau, Yap, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Maldives, Fiji, Tahiti, and the Philippines. Caribbean diving includes Bonaire, Curacao, Little Cayman, Belize, Dominica, and Honduras. I have also taken up golf in the last 7-8 years and love it.
How has a Duke degree helped you?
My Duke experience helps me every day. My Computer Science degree directly prepared me for my long time IT career. The logical and critical thinking helps me with my job. The analysis and research skills help me to prepare to teach a lesson. I feel comfortable and confident with teaching and coaching, which is something that would have surprised me right out of college.
I know the Lord has given me some natural abilities, but I definitely think He led me to Duke for my training. It was a perfect fit for me. I am grateful to Coach Debbie Leonard and Coach Jacki Silar for the opportunity to play for Duke. Simply put: You are part of Duke for four years. Before you leave, Duke becomes part of you … for the rest of your life.