“I don’t have these thick folders on every team in the N.B.A. like I did in the N.E.W.M.A.C.,” she said, referring, of course, to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.
Lucia Robinson-Griggs, the Vassar College coach who was a longtime assistant under Raman, said she had already felt the effects of Raman’s jump to the N.B.A.
“I’ve gotten a lot of calls from coaches who are just like: ‘How did this happen? How’d she wow them?’” Robinson-Griggs said. “And a lot of it was just Sonia being Sonia. The idea of being a student of the game gets thrown around a lot, but that’s Sonia and everything that she embodies.”
Growing up in Framingham, Mass., Raman loved basketball. She rooted for the Boston Celtics. She played with her friends. Her parents, both computer programmers, supported her interest in sports, she said. She went on to play college basketball at Tufts, where she came off the bench as a high-energy guard.
“I was not very good,” she said. “I just worked hard and tried to be a good teammate.”
After graduating from Boston College Law School, Raman worked for the federal Labor Department and later for an investment firm, in the risk and compliance division. She had only recently started that job when Kathy Hagerstrom, who was then the basketball coach at Wellesley College, asked if Raman would be interested in volunteering as an assistant.
“I always knew that I was going to find a way to coach,” Raman said. “It just wasn’t a part of my life plan to make it career. I thought it would be something that I did after work, or on weekends — maybe coach a youth team.”
For six seasons, Raman kept her day job as a lawyer while moonlighting as one of Hagerstrom’s assistants. Raman finally left the law behind in 2008, when she went to M.I.T.