Alex Gallagher: his legacy at Noble & Greenough

Photo by Douglas Leclerc

By Gabby Alfveby

Most people have never heard of Noble & Greenough or its women’s basketball program. The boarding school sits on the Charles River and is located just 10 miles from Boston with a small student body of only 630 students.

But despite their size or being relatively unknown, its women’s basketball team, led by head coach and Athletic Director, Alex Gallagher, has created a lasting impact on numerous top players.

Gallagher, entered his 24th year with the team in the fall. He has accumulated an impressive record of 486-108 in just 22 years and has led his team to win numerous New England Championships.

He recently recorded his 600th career win on January 19th against Lawrence Academy.

“We’re lucky we’ve made it to what’s essentially the Final Four weekend in New England the last 11 years. We’ve won the New England Championship nine of those last 11 years,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher has coached players like Lauren Dillon, a Tufts University guard from 2014-2018, Katie Benzan, a guard who broke the University of Maryland’s career three-point percentage as a grad during the 2021-22 season and Caroline Ducharme who is a current guard at top women’s basketball program, UConn.

Gallagher has built a legacy for himself and the program where he created a positive culture and foundation for a family environment to grow.

“There is a certain understanding when you come here about what sort of a family we want to create and the sacrifices that people need to make to be a part of something really special and bigger than any one person on the team,” Gallagher said. “I think that’s the type of kid over time that we’ve attracted and that has been sort of the backbone of our program.”

Photo by Douglas Leclerc.

As a coach he looks for a certain type of player in order to keep his team and the culture around it on top.

“We’re looking for kids who come from good families and understand what it means to work hard, to understand what it means to be unselfish, to be committed and to give everything they have to the people who they share the uniform with,” Gallagher said.

Trying to include a variety of players is involved in Gallaghers coaching style in order for his team to be successful and give recognition to the players that are working hard during practices.

“On the basketball side, we’re unusual and that our ideal every year is to have a rotation of 9, 10, 11 kids. That means there are a lot of Superstar players from other places that come to Nobles and have to sacrifice their own playing time and point totals and statistics,” Gallagher said. “Because they know this is the way that we play and we want to respect the kids who work really hard and can be out on the floor. And so we find ways to include them all whenever we can.”

Although Gallagher has an outstanding record as a coach he attributes it to his players and all the work they put in and the skills that they brought to the team.

“We’ve been lucky to consistently have kids who sacrifice and give themselves to be a part of the type of program and culture that we’ve developed and it takes a lot of work,” Gallagher said. “Getting to the top is hard, staying at the top is harder and I think we’ve had a legacy of players here who take that Legacy really seriously and want to do everything they can to stay at the top.”

Love Serve Care

Gallagher and his team have played and lived by a mantra that is on display and they are reminded of every day.

“Outside my [office] doors is a huge sign that says ‘love serve care’. I try and live that life. I come up short a lot. When I do I own it, but I think we say to our kids all the time,” Gallagher said. “If you show up every day ready to love each other, serve each other and care for one another at the end of the day. We’re going to be alright, and I think our kids are committed to that.”

Photo by Douglas Leclerc.

Gallagher is passionate about his job and demanding positive components to his players lives.

“Those relationship pieces, demanding that of kids, challenging to build those relationships on the foundation of that love serve care Mantra. That’s the stuff that really fires me up. I care a lot more about that than our three-point shooting percentage,” Gallagher said.

Relationships are important to him and he watches almost all of his previous players broadcasted college games.

“When we’ve had other players playing in Division I programs whenever they’re on TV the beauty of streaming now is that we get to see almost all of them play,” Gallagher said.

Each practice is utilized to build his players skills not necessarily to focus on winning.

“Our practices are built around that mentality of skill building and then putting them into a lot of situational basketball. Scenario’s where they’ve got to decision make and they’ve got to read the floor and they’ve got to have faith in one another,” Gallagher said.

The Noble bench cheering on their teammates during the She Got Game Classic Boston at TD Garden. Photo by Douglas Leclerc.

Importance of Academics

Everything Gallagher has built in this program has been important including his encouragement of dedication to academics.

“I think what we’re proudest of is we’ve got what I believe is a top 50 basketball program in the country and it’s up to a 28 academic institution in the country,” Gallagher said. 

Gallagher knows that it is important to keep your future in mind with or without basketball in it and this starts with prioritizing your education.

“So our kids come here with one aim, which is the leverage the game of basketball into the best academic outcome they can possibly get and That means that they are scholar athletes. They do their work. They do their work at a high level,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher sets his players up to not only have a productive future but also to be better people by getting involved in various activities.

“They’re committed in various areas of the school. Whether it’s Affinity groups of the theater program or other sports. We want kids who are going to be really good citizens and really good leaders for us,” Gallagher said. “And to me when you combine that multifaceted mindset and character mindset with a kid who can be a multifaceted basketball player. Those are the kids who are at the heart of what Noble’s basketball is all about.”

Not Just About Winning For Gallagher

For Gallagher it is not about winning, he simply loves his job and his players, current and former.

“I’ll tell you one thing it’s not winning and losing you know, I’m a pretty competitive guy and I like winning as much as anybody does and I don’t like losing but that’s definitely not what motivates me,” Gallagher said. “I’m much more. I’m definitely a relationship guy and so I love having relationships with a lot of my former players.”

Gallagher struggles to balance his life with the many roles he has to fill as a coach, athletic director, teacher, father, and husband. Despite how hard it is for Gallagher it is worth it for him.

“So when we start basketball it’s a grind and it’s a long four-month season and we play 30 games in four months and takes a toll on my family. It takes a toll on me. It’s a lot of sacrifices from a lot of people, Gallagher said.

Gallagher would not want to spend his time doing anything else.

“You know how hard it is to carve out the time it requires to be the AD and a teacher and then to coach and when I say it’s my favorite four months of the year because when I’m not coaching those hours just get filled with stuff that I don’t love as much as coaching,” Gallagher said.

Gallaghers goals at the beginning of the season were to try and win another championship but he also wanted to push his players to the abilities that he knows they are capable of.

“We’ve got to stay healthy and we’ve got to be lucky because to win a championship you got to have some luck but it’s a group that I really cannot wait to coach and I think is a type of Legacy team that could be remembered for a long time,” Gallagher said “So I want us to be remembered for all the right things and not the wrong things and so holding kids to that standard and demanding that they reach that standard, is my biggest challenge and the thing that I’m going to push them on the hardest.”

Grace Oliver goes up for a layup against Dexter Southfield during the, She Got Game Classic Boston at TD Garden. Photo by Douglas Leclerc.

Gallagher and his team got the chance to play at TD Garden in January this season. Prior to the season, they were looking forward to playing there.

“We get the opportunity to play in a special game at the TD Garden where the Celtics play and that’s going to be a really fun time,” Gallagher said. “We played Dexter Southfield who’s the team that we beat in the Double-A finals last year, so it should be a great game and a great opportunity for our kids for a once-in-a-lifetime sort of moment.”

Gallagher and his team brought home a 76-64 win against Dexter Southfield on January 14th at the She Got Game Classic Boston. They currently sit at a record of 22-1

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