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Feb. 6, 2003

By Cathy Bongiovi

Her favorite bumper sticker says it all: Watch out for the Big Girls. Six-foot-four center Lynette O’Reggio has been a big girl since age 11.

“My dad signed up my brothers for Boys’ & Girls’ Club basketball,” the sophomore recalled. “And when he told the girls’ coach how tall I was, she said, ‘Bring her in right away’.”

The Laurel, Md., native has continued to grow and improve each year through hard work and persistence. A four-year letterwinner at Elizabeth Seton High School, O’Reggio was an All-State and All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference honoree as well as the 2001 County Player of the Year. The team captain of the city champions also played two sports.

“I played volleyball for my junior and senior years,” O’Reggio said. “Initially I played volleyball to keep in shape for basketball. It was a fun thing- kind of a release. It was a sport I could play without any pressure. I just played to have fun.”

But this big girl has concentrated on her basketball skills since enrolling at the University of Virginia. As a true freshman last season, O’Reggio saw action in all 30 games. She recorded her first career double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds against Howard. For her efforts, O’Reggio shared the team’s Most Improved Player honor with teammate Liz Sahin. But O’Reggio hasn’t rested on her laurels.

“I went to Pete Newell’s Big Man Camp in California,” O’Reggio said of her experience last summer that she shared with teammate Jocelyn Logan-Friend. “It was really good. I learned a lot of moves.”

O’Reggio has put those new moves to good use this season for Virginia. She’s played in 15 contests with three starts at center. The team leader in blocks, O’Reggio swatted a career-best six shots at Wake Forest. She also grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds against No. 1 Duke.

Lynette O’Reggio is an enforcer,” head coach Debbie Ryan said. “She’s someone who is growing very quickly into the college game and definitely has changed her work ethic, especially since last summer. Lynette and Jocelyn both attended Pete Newell’s post camp, and they both gained a lot from that experience.”

The sophomore is working hard on the court and in the classroom. While she hasn’t selected a major yet, O’Reggio already knows what she wants to do after graduation.

“I want to be the first woman head coach of a Division I men’s basketball team,” O’Reggio said. “No woman has done it before, and I love men’s basketball just a little bit more than women’s basketball. I think it would be great to coach men.

“Even before I started playing, I used to watch NBA and college basketball, because my dad watched it,” she continued. “I just liked the game. It’s not based so much on fundamentals; it’s more based on talent and athleticism. And that fascinated me. I want to have the opportunity to coach players with that kind of talent and ability.”

With two years left to complete at UVa, O’Reggio has given the basketball world time to prepare for her entrance into coaching. Remember, “Watch out for the Big Girls!”

Off the Court with Lynette

Food: rice

Color: purple

Animal: bears

Movie: Gladiator

Actor: Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Actress: Lynn Whitfield

TV Show: Cosby Show

Book: Coldest Winter Ever

Children’s Book: Princess & the Pea

Song: I Never Dreamed

Pro Team: New York Knicks

Athlete: Alan Houston

Spot on Grounds: AFC Pool

Class at UVa: Poetry Writing

If I had to play another sport at Virginia, I would play volleyball.

Nobody knows how much I sleep.

A bumper sticker that best describes me Watch out for the Big Girls.

Three words that best describe me loyal, forgetful, and sincere

The best advice I’ve ever given is “Don’t commit to something you’re not going to fulfill.”

If I could do anything, I’d coach a Division I men’s basketball team.

I wish my feet looked better.

The person I admire most is Grandma, because she is a very loving woman who will give her all to anyone.

When my college days are over, I want to be a sports agent.

I can’t believe how crazy this world is.

I chose my jersey number, because I’ve always balled in #54, and I can’t play without it.

I chose Virginia, because it’s close to my family.

I admire Debbie Ryan, because she is an amazing coach and has set the precedent for many female coaches.

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