Mike DiMauro: Another Auriemma with a great story to tell

Feb. 17—Maybe it's the whole "Auriemma" thing. It's hard to get past her surname because it's so acclaimed. It's equally hard to tell her story without the "Geno's daughter" tagline foiling the flow.

Let's start here: Alysa Auriemma is a gifted writer, perhaps best illustrated by an old line from poet Sylvia Plath: "Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences." Few others craft better sentences than Geno and Kathy's middle child, evidenced by the bio she wrote on Amazon:

"Alysa Auriemma is an author, educator, and occasional fit person. If you split her down the middle you would find she is mostly made of coffee, yarn, pro-leftist screeds, and anti-depressants. Her work has earned tremendous acclaim from her mother. She resides in Connecticut."

Alysa, a young woman many of us around UConn women's basketball watched grow up, just became an author. She created "All Daughters Rise," a novel about a young witch who must challenge everything she believes and somehow cooperate with her ex-girlfriend in order to carry out her mother's secret legacy and save the world.

"It's something I've always wanted to do," Auriemma was saying recently. "I've been interested in writing a book for years. I just wasn't sure what it was going to be. My heart just kept coming back to fiction. I've been drafting things here and there for years. It was the right time. Now it's out there and getting received better than I could have imagined."

Auriemma, an English teacher and assistant basketball coach at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, confessed she's "always been a fantasy person," perhaps why her muse came from reading Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

"I started working with a group of friends," she said. "I've always been interested in vampires and werewolves. As a kid, I loved Anne Rice (best known for her series of novels "The Vampire Chronicles"). She was a huge inspiration in building characters. A lot of my early writing was directly ripping off Anne Rice. So embarrassing. But then I developed my own style. I had been blogging for many years in my own voice and then I realized I could combine the two. You get to make stuff up your own way."

Auriemma's blogs about her dad's team showed the world her puckish sense of humor. The personal favorite: "I can't really say what Dad said in the locker room before the game because I wasn't allowed in the building until 11 a.m. We got to the building at 10:30, but my mother, a few other people and myself were not allowed inside until everyone else went in. The reason? The NCAA said we were 'non-essential personnel.' I have a fault with this system. My mom is married to essential personnel. I share the DNA of essential personnel. This seems like a no-brainer to me."

Make no mistake: Alysa is quite proud to share DNA with the world's best basketball coach. But then, how does one establish an identity when "Auriemma" trails her like the blanket did Linus?

"There are parts of my life where it's easy to make my own name," she said. "When I was in college, I went to UConn because it has a great drama program. No one in program knew who I was. Theater kids. And I don't walk around with it written on my forehead. I want people to view me on my own terms."

Auriemma said she'd rather people got to know her because of her writing. But one thing authors learn quickly: Words are the easy part next to the marketing mandates required to entice people to actually read them. This was where the "Auriemma" thing would work. Or so she thought.

"I did reach out to people who have represented my dad. Media companies and literary agents," Auriemma said. "I didn't want to do it, but I thought, 'I'll just try it.' I never heard back from any of them. I made a joke on Twitter about how nepotism doesn't always work. I think it helped me realize I needed to do this by myself. I learned a lot. People started discovering me in a really organic way. That makes me happy."

They sure grow up fast, don't they?

Auriemma's book is available on Amazon. Highly recommended.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro