Rutgers Prep Girls’ Basketball Remains Undefeated, Coach Notches 500th Win


Mary Klinger (center) poses with her team and coaching staff, celebrating 500 wins for Rutgers Prep. Photo: Rutgers Prep.

Submitted by Terrence J. Ladd, Rutgers Prep Director of Marketing and Communications.

The Rutgers Prep girls’ basketball team continued its so-far-undefeated season Jan. 14 with a 69-21 victory over Hillsborough High School, earning coach Mary Klinger her 500th win.

Many Rutgers Prep (and coach Klinger) fans showed up in anticipation of the event, and as the seconds ticked away at the end of the fourth quarter, they all held up paper signs with the number “500” printed in bold letters. At the end of the game, her players presented her with flowers, balloons, and a celebratory banner while her fans gathered around for handshakes, hugs, and photo ops.

“It’s funny—I hadn’t really thought about it,” said Klinger. “I’m not big on personal milestones—I’m more about the team and the kids. After our 499th win, I started thinking, ‘Wow, 500, holy cow, that’s a lot!’ What it really got me thinking about were all the kids that had played for me, and I thought that was really cool because it brought back a lot of memories of terrific kids, and it was neat to think about them again.”

Klinger is no stranger to success, and this milestone adds to a career full of accolades. The 2015-16 season marks Klinger’s 32nd year as head coach of the girls’ basketball program at Rutgers Prep (and her 19th year as athletic director for the school); in her time she has won 10 NJSIAA Prep B State Championships and four Somerset County titles for the Argonauts, and has earned numerous Star Ledger and Courier News Coach of the year awards. Her career record is 500-228.

Outside of the school, Klinger has been an assistant coach to the U16 and U17 USA Women’s National teams, winning gold in both the FIBA Americas U16 Championship (2013) and FIBA World U17 Championship (2014), and was the McDonald’s All-American East team coach in 2012. She is a member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Board of Directors

As a player, Klinger was a four-year starter for Rutgers University women’s basketball, and a member of the 1982 AIAW National Championship winning team. She was inducted into the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, and in 2009 was honored with a place in the New Jersey Sports Writers Hall of Fame.

Klinger said despite the gold medals and hall of fame inductions, this achievement still ranks up there.

“I don’t know if it’s really hit me yet,” she said. “Just because it’s so early in our season, and we have other team goals that we need to accomplish. I think maybe at the end of the year, when we review the season, I think that’s when it will really hit me. I think of the things I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of—and I think, too, because so many people—former players and coaches—have a hand in it, and that’s what’s really important to me—that a lot of people got to share this honor. It’s not about me, it’s about all these kids that have played for me, and the coaches—I think more about that.”

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