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Lexi Weger reunites with coach as UNC women's basketball graduate assistant

UNC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
UNC women's basketball head coach Courtney Banghart and UNC women's basketball graduate assistant Lexi Weger pictured in Carmichael Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications/ Jeffrey A. Camarati.

The summer before her sophomore year of high school, Lexi Weger traveled to New Jersey to participate in the Princeton Girls Basketball Elite Camp — run by then-Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart — on the advice of her parents. 

Weger had just finished her first basketball season at Episcopal High School but already knew she wanted to play at the collegiate level. Her parents saw the camp as an opportunity for her to gain more exposure and grow as a player.

After watching her play and seeing her potential on the court, Banghart pulled Weger aside. Her first question?

“Have you thought about the Ivy League?”

Fast forward, and Weger played under Banghart at Princeton during the 2018-19 season. This year, the two have reunited again, with Banghart bringing on Weger as a graduate assistant at North Carolina. In her new role, Weger works closely with UNC’s video coordinators and coaching staff to analyze film for the team. She also assists with the team's recruiting efforts.

But, more than that, she said she wants to “empathize with the girls and walk in their shoes" as a former collegiate athlete. 

Former North Carolina women’s basketball guard Ariel Young is currently enrolled in UNC’s sport administration graduate program alongside Weger. Although they have not known each other long, Young believes Weger’s connection with Banghart and athletics will allow her to connect with the girls on another level. 

“All they need is compassion and somebody that they can reach out to and talk to, that's the basis of it,” Young said. “Having that experience as a student athlete yourself really does make you more compassionate when you're in that position.”

'It's about finding your people'

Even at the age of 15, Weger knew her connection with Banghart was different. After her initial interactions with Banghart and visits to campus, Weger said she was confident she wanted to play at Princeton and get the “best academic experience with the best athletics.”

Banghart’s advice to Weger as a high schooler has stuck with her to this day, influencing many of her major life decisions. 

“It's about finding your people and your place,” Weger recalled. “And once you do that, the rest will come naturally.”

In Weger’s first year with Princeton women’s basketball, Banghart served as both her head coach and role model. 

In 2019, Banghart accepted a new role as the head coach at North Carolina. After Weger graduated from Princeton, she knew her former coach could be a helpful mentor yet again as she looked to transition into coaching herself. 

When Weger went to Banghart for advice, she learned a position within the UNC team had opened up, giving her an avenue to advance her professional career. 

“I think she's got a real bright future in this business, and what a great place to learn it because my standards are very high,” Banghart said. “And the University is a great place to learn because it's really supportive here.”

Lasting connection 

Although they only worked together for one year at Princeton, Weger has always admired Banghart’s leadership and coaching style. 

“It's definitely interesting going from being a player to being a member of her staff," Weger said. "But I think it's going to allow me to be better on her staff just because I know how she operates and what her values are."

After reaching out to Banghart after her graduation, Weger and her former coach coordinated her integration into the UNC women's basketball staff. Now that she's finally settled in Chapel Hill, Weger is eager to acquire as much knowledge as possible from her mentor.

“Working with coach Banghart, I'm just trying to be a sponge, absorb everything that I can learn, everything that I can,” Weger said. “So I can take the tools that I'm going to learn over the next couple of years and be able to take them with me as I look to become an assistant coach somewhere.”

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