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Spotlight On Maria Conlon

SportsBasketballJuvenile DelinquencyUniversity of ConnecticutSocial IssuesPersonal FinanceGeno Auriemma

Born: Nov. 20, 1982

Before UConn: Her reputation as a shooter and scorer was established in grade school when she scored 1,000 points on a boys' team because there was no girls' team. And when she started playing AAU ball, her talent began to bloom, as did her relationships with players who would eventually join her at UConn.

At Seymour High, playing for Joe Frager, Conlon was an immediate starter and star, helping to lead her team to consecutive 26-0 seasons as a freshman and sophomore and two state titles. Before her junior season, Frager left to become coach at Southern Connecticut, but Conlon continued to stand out, even though the team won no more titles.

She left Seymour as Connecticut's Gatorade Player of the Year and perhaps Connecticut's greatest three-point shooter.

At UConn: As part of the 2000 freshman class, Conlon got to play in four Final Fours and won three consecutive national championships from 2002-04.

Beginning in her sophomore season, she was a regular fixture in Geno Auriemma's rotation at point guard, appearing in 112 games in her final three seasons.

She finished her career averaging 5.3 points, with twice as many assists as turnovers. She also made 170 three-pointers, shooting .411 from behind the arc as a senior.

Life After UConn: After playing on her third consecutive national championship in 2004, Conlon was invited to training camp by the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and made it through six weeks until being last cut.

She then returned to UConn to become a graduate assistant before trying out again for the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun, before getting cut again. The following summer she volunteered in the Children's Ward at Yale New Haven hospital and worked many basketball camps to stay in shape.

Like most women's players, she decided to try playing professional overseas and was a tremendous success until injury interfered.

"I played in Germany and Iceland, where I made first-team All-Icelandic and was the MVP of the Cup Championship," Conlon said. "Then I busted my ankle [contesting a shot] and had to come home [for reconstructive surgery].

Then life began to take the turns that has led her to where she is today.

"I took a job as a financial adviser with Barnum Financial Group and made leaders conference as a top producer my first year," Conlon said. "Then I married Carmine Rinaldi in 2008. In January 2009 I was promoted to an agency manager for Barnum, which is an office of MetLife and in my first year as a manager finished fifth in the entire country and made manager's leaders conference again."

Conlan re-united with Frager as an assistant coach at Southern, which won the Division II national championship in 2007.

In essence, Conlon has found the perfect way to use the competitiveness which helped her excel as a UConn basketball player in the working world.

"I am now building a team of financial advisers, while also running my own financial planning practice," she said.

But basketball is still in her life, as well.

"I do individual basketball lessons on the side, as well as serving as radio analyst for the Fairfield women's basketball team," she said. "I also compete in over seven different [basketball] leagues throughout the year to stay around the sport. I live on the beach in Milford with my husband and dog. I've never been happier!"

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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