Fairfield names Carly Thibault-DuDonis women’s basketball coach

Former East Lyme High standout Carly Thibault-DuDonis is returning to the state as the new women’s basketball coach at Fairfield.

Thibault-DuDonis, an assistant under Lindsay Whalen at Minnesota for the past four years, replaces Joe Frager.

Frager retired after 15 seasons. He led Fairfield to the NCAA Tournament this year.

Thibault-DuDonis is the daughter of Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault. She was a Connecticut resident when her father coached the Sun and played for East Lyme before becoming on an All-Northeast Conference third team player at Monmouth.

As a college coach, she has was part of the Mississippi State staff when the Bulldogs were twice in the Final Four. She was also on the staffs at Eastern Michigan and Florida State.

Fairfield Director of Athletics Paul Schlickmann said the school conducted a “comprehensive search” before hiring Thibault-DuDonis.

“It became abundantly clear that Carly embodies who we are and who we aspire to be,” Schlickmann said in a statement.

“She has achieved exceptional results at every step of her journey as a student-athlete and as a coach, consistently adding great value and making those around her better. Carly has astutely aligned herself with Hall of Fame mentors and effectively coalesced their best qualities into the person we hire today.”

Among her mentors is Whalen, who will be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame this year. Whalen became connected to Thibault-DuDonis when she played for the Sun.

She joined Whalen as an assistant in 2018 and became associate head coach in 2020.

“I have known Coach Carly for roughly 20 years,” Whalen said in a statement. “In that time, I have seen her grow into an exceptional basketball coach and person. Carly’s work ethic, drive and compassion are second to none in this profession. I cannot wait to see all of the success she is going to have at Fairfield.”

Thibault-DuDonis will be Fairfield’s sixth head coach in program history. The Stags won their first MAAC Championship since 1998 and made their first NCAA postseason appearance since 2001 this year.

Fairfield lost to Texas in the NCAA Tournament.

Frager, who coached at Seymour High and Southern Connecticut State, won 265 games at Fairfield and 454 overall in college.

“In my coaching journey, it has always been my goal to be in places where I could positively impact young women’s lives and be surrounded by others who wanted to do the same,” Thibault-DuDonis said. “Here at Fairfield, I’ve found a perfect fit.”