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Cheering from the stands, Cunningham couldn’t be more proud of wife La Rocque

Lady Rebels’ head coach has strong support system in stands every time out

Dan Cunningham with daughter, Ellie, is pictured with UNLV head coach Lindy La Rocque during the Mountain West Championship. Photo Credit: Instagram/@lindylarocque

Dan Cunningham has seen his wife Lindy La Rocque earn her first head coaching job and bring her first child, and soon to be second, into the world over the last six-plus years. La Rocque's meticulous mind while balancing marriage, motherhood and her career has left him in sheer awe.

Originally meeting on the campus of Stanford University where La Rocque served as an assistant coach on the same grounds she played her collegiate basketball for four years. While La Rocque was an assistant there, Cunningham was working for ticket operations.

The pair didn’t discover they had been working only one building apart on campus until late 2017. By April the following year, the two were dating.

That wasn’t the only change on the horizon for the new couple. That change came in the form of an opportunity that La Rocque simply couldn’t refuse even with the COVID-19 pandemic looming as she was offered the UNLV women’s basketball head coaching position.

“I remember vividly because she had no resume or anything with her,” Cunningham said. “I remember she brought photos of herself as a kid being a ball girl for the men’s games. The light on her face when she came back with how excited she was, I’ll never forget.”

Now with the relationship a full two years in, Cunningham told La Rocque he was “all in” on wherever she wanted to go citing, “I’ll figure it out.”

Sitting in the first seat on the "EE" row, Dan Cunningham watches wife Lindy La Rocque during a Lady Rebels game. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

“To me it didn’t matter, it was following her and chasing it,” he said. “I love basketball, I grew up playing and to be on the other side and watch her and support, there was no ‘No.’ It was happening no matter what.”

At the time of her hiring, La Rocque was the second-youngest Division I head coach in women’s basketball at 30 years old. During that COVID-shortened season, UNLV’s Lady Rebels went 15-9 with a 13-5 mark in the Mountain West. The most impressive number may have been its 9-0 mark on the road that season.

“After she got the job I think she was on a call with every single player on the team,” Cunningham said. “You couldn’t even meet players face-to-face. For a first-year coach that’s really a challenge I don’t think anyone ever thought would come.”

Another life-changing event happened following that season when the couple tied the knot on August 8, 2021.

“It almost seems like a long time ago,” La Rocque said. “It was a great time to party and to celebrate after a long COVID season. Even getting the job, we didn’t really get to celebrate, I never even had a press conference which was fine. But our wedding felt like a celebration of multiple things, obviously our love and commitment to each other but I would’ve never guessed I would be back in Vegas getting married at the church I grew up in.”

In year two with his now-wife at the helm, Cunningham watched the Lady Rebels skyrocket to a 26-7 overall record while capturing the Mountain West’s regular season and tournament titles.

“I would say I was more invested,” he said. “I don’t think, outside of her parents and her sister – she’d kill me if I didn’t put her in that – that’s more invested. I had to learn once she got the head job when to ask the questions.

Dan and Ellie Cunningham greet UNLV head coach Lindy La Rocque after clinching a third straight regular season title. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

“Her mind is running all the time. We’ll be in bed and I’m like, ‘Lindy you have to turn it off, it’ll be there tomorrow.’”

Following the theme of off-season life-altering events, the newlyweds announced they’d be expecting their first child together. On November 3, 2022, Ellie Mae Cunningham was born.

Earlier that night, La Rocque was coaching her UNLV team during an exhibition game against Cal State LA. Her water broke on the sidelines.

“Honestly, I’m still in shock that it happened,” Cunningham said. “I remember she called her trainer and then she was calling [out for] ‘Mom.’ Not ‘husband,’ not ‘Dan.’

“I get a wave from her mom and I walk over and Lindy’s like ‘[my] water broke.’ [...] We had nothing packed, there was no bag – it was almost four weeks early. It was a perfect Lindy moment of water breaking on the court. Her life begins and ends with basketball, it’s kismet.”

La Rocque managed to return to the sideline just one month after giving birth and only missed the first nine games of the 2022-23 season.

“She told her doctor jokingly, I think it was jokingly, ‘When can I get back out there?’” Cunningham said. “I had to tell her, ‘We’re here, your mom is here, your dad is here, family’s here. If you’ve got to go to a game, go to a game. We’ll be watching and we’ll be supporting.

“These girls, then and now, are family too.”

Lady Rebels head coach Lindy La Rocque celebrates after cutting down the Mountain West Championship nets for the third straight year. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

Once La Rocque returned, UNLV won 23 of its last 25 games to finish with a 31-3 overall record. Along the way, the program brought home a second straight conference regular season and tournament title.

“I remember we were going to every single away game because we couldn’t keep Ellie away from mom and mom needed to coach,” Cunningham said. “It got to a point where [it was a road game at] New Mexico and she looked at me and she felt terrible and goes, ‘You guys can’t come [...] I love yall but I need 100% focus on this game.”

Cunningham now works for the software company that UNLV uses to distribute its tickets.

It’s provided so much comfort within the village that La Rocque and Cunningham will be welcoming their second child which was announced in late February. Ellie’s sibling is expected in July of this year.

“The professional success has been great,” La Rocque said. “When I was a little kid dreaming up all of the different things I wanted to do in my life, I’ve tried to stay grounded in my personal goals as well. And not let any profession carve out anything that I want to do personally.

“I’m never going to throw away personal priorities for a job. That’s not everyone’s choice, [they’ll say] ‘It’s life-changing money.’ I don’t need to change my life, I feel like I have a pretty good one.”


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