Loyola job 'a dream come true' for former Buffalo Grove standout Guth
Home sweet home may be a cliché but Allison Guth will certainly tell you how true it is.
In fact, she calls it 'kind of a dream come true'.
The former Yale University head women's basketball coach is coming back home to her Chicagoland roots after being named the tenth head women's basketball coach at Loyola University.
"I just miss life in Chicago," said Guth, who helped lead Buffalo Grove to the 2000 Class 2A girls basketball championship under hall of fame coach Tom Dineen. "I am beyond thrilled."
Just like she was that day some 22 years ago when she scored 7 of her team's 11 points in overtime to help lead the Bison to a stunning 60-51 victory over Washington in the state title game at Illinois State's Redbird Arena.
"Those girls are my family and that team is still one of the most proud moments in my relationships," Guth said. "We are still a family. I can't wait to see them when we all get together to celebrate our 40th birthdays this year at a lake house. We've all made time so that we can be going without partners, without kids, husbands, wives or whoever. We've been texting back and forth and it just feels like such a dream. I feel like the luckiest kid in the world."
Guth, who won 99 games in her seven years at Yale, feels fortunate just to be able to be coaching.
"There are very few jobs which combine purpose, people, place and passion and this one checks all the boxes for me," said Guth, who was working at a fortune five company in Colorado before landing her first college coaching job at Loyola in 2005 when Shannon Reidy brought her on the staff.
"Honestly getting that opportunity to work for Shannon Riedy, one of the most talented high school coaches when she built the Marian Catholic High School program, was incredibly special. Being 21 years old and getting a job with Shannon and Loyola taking a chance on me was incredibly special. I'm forever grateful to be able to get my feet wet under Shannon's program."
Little did she know, after working nearly a handful of other coaching jobs, one day she'd return to the Lake Shore campus where it all began, this time as the head coach.
"You're never really thinking down the line that much," she said. "That's why it's so surreal to me. It's like a whole full circle moment thinking this is where I started and fell in love with college coaching and then getting to come back home to it and seeing the transformation. Just being on the campus has been pretty special.
"This place is so special to me. It provided me with my first coaching job years ago and now my first opportunity as a head coach. I can't wait to build relationships and obviously reconnect with people who mean a whole lot to me and are entrenched in the past and have a love for women's basketball the way Chicago does and Loyola athletics. It's just the right fit in terms of their core values and my core values."
Not to say she didn't love her time out east.
"Yale is so incredibly special at a lot of levels. I think it's the people I'm going to miss the most, the relationships with our team, administration, staff, neighbors and community. It is the place where I became a mom. My experience here helped transform my life. I've been super fortunate and proud to be associated with a place like Yale."
And it was her many associations in Illinois helped Guth move forward. She's worked for DePaul (coach Doug Bruno) and Northwestern (Joe McKeon).
"I've been so fortunate to learn from great coaches like them,'' she said. "They are winners and successful in life. They do things the right way and you don't get the opportunity to learn from this type of people too often.
"Working for Doug in an off the floor role (Director of Basketball Operations) made all the difference in my life. I can't tell you what it was like to learn from a mind like Doug's and someone I respected so much as husband, father and just a human being. He really kind of shaped and molded a lot of my basketball philosophy and thoughts because he's just the ultimate teacher."
And now Guth won't need plane flights to traverse her old stamping grounds in the Chicagoland to find recruits.
"And there were the other great people there I got to learn from like DePaul's athletic director (Jean Lenti Ponsetto) and Northwestern's Jim Phillips (now the ACC commissioner). I think those are reasons I was able to be in this position and was able to sit down with Steve Watson (Loyola athletic director) and Holly Strauss O'Brien (Deputy Director of Athletics/Senior Woman Administrator) to get this opportunity at a place where I really have a passion for and that I believe in. Not only has it had great success in the past but we can continue to build off that success, especially in a time when the program is moving to a new conference (Atlantic 10).
"I think I'll be able to have more of a presence with coaches I respect and admire from the area," said Guth, whose sister Jen Buxton recently stepped down as head coach at Elk Grove. "Obviously, I was really excited to support my sister's high school journey the last few years so that's a little bittersweet that she stepped away to be with her family but it's still fun to reconnect. I had a chance to support coaches like (Stevenson's) Ashley (Graham) Sandstead and (Barrington's) Babbi Barreiro last September trying to get the Sophie Swansons, Simone Sawyers and Katy Eidles. The recent outpouring from the Chicago coaching circuit that I love so much has really been special."
And, of course, that outpouring includes her own family.
"Allison's star shines bright and the people privileged to work alongside her get to experience firsthand her unmatched energy and motivating spirit," said her sister Caroline Lainio. "It's no secret she creates a sense of family wherever she goes but I can tell you her own family and friends are beyond thrilled about her wife Jess and sons Ray and Garvey's return to Chitown. You can bet her cheering section will be packing the stands at the Gentile Center as Allison is poised to do amazing things with her new Loyola-Chicago family."
Former Bison teammate and Hoffman Estates softball coach Lindsey Hamma is thrilled for Guth.
"This is truly awesome and well deserved," said Hamma, who like Guth, also attended the University of Illinois. "The Ramblers couldn't ask for a better leader to help elevate their program. I am beyond elated for Guth and her family and so very proud of her."