MOHEGAN INDIAN RES. - Rosemary Ragle grew up in Alabama and but grew to fall in love with Connecticut during her 18-year stay in Storrs.
And while she wouldn’t trade her two years in New York City working at the Hospital for Special Surgery and serving as the athletic trainer for the WNBA’s New York Liberty, when the opportunity came to return to Connecticut she couldn’t pass it up.
Ragle, who was the athletic trainer for 10 national championship women’s basketball teams at UConn, is back in a familiar place as the first-year athletic trainer for the Connecticut Sun.
“It’s still early and I’m still getting to know the players,” Ragle said. “But they are extremely nice. Coach (Curt) Miller puts together a good group of nice people. I like it. He and his coaching staff are awesome, very friendly, very inclusive. The players are making sure that I’m OK rather than the other way around. So far, it’s been good.”
The Sun open their exhibition schedule tonight at Mohegan Sun Arena against the Los Angeles Sparks.
Ragle earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Troy University in 1996 and completed her master’s degree from LSU in sport management in 1998.
In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
She left UConn in 2016 to work with the Liberty, who won back-to-back Eastern Conference titles while she was there. But with the franchise being put up for sale and with her desire to leave the city, the timing of the Sun job opening was perfect.
“It was, kind of, a fluke,” Ragle said. “I decided to take the offseason off after the Liberty season ended to go home and spend time with my family. I was home for maybe a week when I got the news that the team was being sold. I would call them every week, ‘What’s going on? What’s going on? What’s going on?’
“Then the Connecticut Sun job opened up and the next thing I know it’s the end of January and I’m here doing interviews. It just seemed like ... It’s Connecticut. I spent 18 years at UConn and it felt good to come home.
“I loved working with the Liberty, but being in the city not so much. It’s no offense to New Yorkers. The city just wasn’t my thing and I was away from all my friends. When I was 20 maybe, but not now.”
The Sun have one UConn graduate on their roster - Morgan Tuck.
Of course, Ragle and Tuck spent a lot of time together in the trainer’s room in Storrs as Tuck battled knee issues for most of her college career.
“When I found out she was coming here I was so excited because Rosie is my all-time favorite trainer of life,” Tuck said. “Maybe it’s because I’ve been with her so much unfortunately, but she is really good.”
Ragle started at UConn in 1998 and began working with women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma’s program a year later. The Huskies won a national championship her first season and would add nine more including in her last four seasons with Tuck, Breanna Stewart, and Moriah Jefferson.
Does she miss UConn?
“Oh my gosh, yes,” Ragle said. “UConn treated me extremely well. I could not have worked with a better group of athletes and coaches. It was hard for me to leave and it’s been hard to be away.
“I still follow them and watch them, absolutely. Two years in a row now the endings have been so hard. It’s not what we were accustomed to at UConn.”
She joins a franchise that is on the rebound following the disastrous Anne Donovan era.
In 2017, Miller guided the Sun to a 21-13 record and their first playoff berth since 2012. Jasmine Thomas, Alyssa Thomas, and Jonquel Jones emerged as all-stars and the nucleus is back. They welcome back Chiney Ogwumike from injury and added Duke guard Lexie Brown from last month’s draft.
Ragle was part of a special run at UConn.
Maybe her good luck will continue at the casino.
“I want to bring my A game every day,” Ragle said. “I want to work with the other support staff closely so they know we all have the same interests, that the players are at their best. I want them to know that I’m there for them and I’m working my tail off that they’re healthy enough to win a championship.”