LeClaire begins coaching career at SNC
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – After a successful career playing basketball at Notre Dame Academy, UW-Green Bay (UWGB) and overseas, Allie LeClaire is back home.
The 2014 Notre Dame graduate recently accepted an assistant coaching position with the women’s program at St. Norbert College under head coach Amanda Leonhard-Perry, who is a former player and assistant at UWGB.
After graduating from Notre Dame – where she is the Tritons’ all-time leading scorer with 1,536 points – LeClaire played at UWGB from 2014-18.
Her 1,489 career points at the school rank seventh all-time.
She was a second-team All-Horizon League selection as a senior and helped the Phoenix to four Horizon League championships and NCAA Tournament appearances.
“I missed being home when I was playing overseas, so I’m happy to be back,” said the 24-year-old LeClaire. “I’m excited to get working and meet the whole team. Playing under Amanda at Green Bay for four years and now getting to coach under her at St. Norbert is exciting. Because my playing career is finished, I’ve missed the game, so this is a perfect opportunity.”
In some cases, LeClaire will only be a couple of years older than some of the Green Knights on the team.
“I think my age helps me relate to the players in different aspects,” she said. “Hopefully, I can be someone they look up to and feel comfortable coming to. Being a couple of months removed from playing, I can also still work out with them on the court at practice.”
UWGB head coach Kevin Borseth echoed LeClaire’s thoughts.
“Allie is a special kid,” said Borseth. “She’s a local kid and loves the area. She was a coach’s dream and is dedicated to the game of basketball. Working alongside Amanda, she will be another set of eyes and ears. Assistant coaches can be a buffer for the chatter between the players and coaches. Sometimes players don’t want to go directly to the head coach, so they go to the assistant. Allie will be a great go-between and will learn lots from Amanda.”
LeClaire said she has fond memories playing under Borseth.
“It was everything,” she said. “I adore Coach Borseth, and playing for him for four years are some of my best basketball memories. He brings a family atmosphere to the team outside of basketball. Developing those relationships made it easy to play for him, and I never wanted to let him down.”
LeClaire also played under head coach Sara Rohde at Notre Dame, another former UWGB standout.
While at Notre Dame, she was a part of two WIAA Division 2 state championship teams and was twice named the Fox River Classic Conference Player of the Year.
“Playing for multiple coaches and styles of basketball will help me be a good coach,” said LeClaire. “When you’re coaching college athletes, everyone has a different style they respond to. Playing overseas and at UWGB, I was exposed to lots of different coaches.”
LeClaire said her coaching style is one of encouragement, stressing hard work and helping players improve their game.
She spent the 2018-19 season playing professionally with the Ireland Liffey Celtics and followed that up with the Wisconsin Glo during the summer of 2019.
In Ireland, she averaged 19.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and shot 53 percent from the floor in helping the Celtics win the National Cup for the first time in team history.
“Playing in Ireland was awesome and a big change,” said LeClaire. “I took a few months to adjust, but staying with a host family helped. I still talk to my former teammates, and it was fun seeing how basketball is played in another country. It was a long season – my parents visited twice.”
LeClaire said she had plenty of free time in Ireland and was able to sightsee.
“We only had a few practices a week and one game on the weekend, so I took some bus and train trips,” she said. “My host family also drove me around to different areas.”
As part of her contract with the Celtics, LeClaire had to coach a few teams and help with camps.
During the fall of 2019, she played for the Slovakia Young Angels Kosice, appearing in 18 games and averaging almost 16 points per outing.
“I played for three months in Slovakia,” LeClaire said. “They invited me back for the rest of the season, but I was ready to come home and figure out what I wanted to do career-wise.”