Jackson Kaplan, Staff Writer
WINGATE, N.C.—-The newest face on the Wingate University women’s basketball bench is graduate assistant coach Katelyn Grisillo, who joined the Bulldog family and coaching staff late last summer. Grisillo joins the elite coaching duo of WU first year full-time assistant coach Celeste Stewart and fifth-year head coach Ann Hancock. Stewart knows a little about Grisillo’s role, as she served as the Bulldogs’ graduate assistant coach for the past two seasons.
“I love it at Wingate,” Grisillo says. “Everyone has been super welcoming and it was not too tough of a transition coming from a similar school at USC Aiken. I really love the small town vibe where I feel like I am part of a family. The campus and facilities are beautiful as well, so it is a great place to be.”
Prior to the start of her coaching career, Grisillo was a women’s basketball student-athlete at the NCAA Division I and II levels. She began her collegiate playing career for the Division I Presbyterian College Blue Hose in Clinton, S.C., where Grisillo played in 26 games. She shot 42.9 percent from the field and posted her first career points, rebound and steal against the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Grisillo also scored a bucket against the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Grisillo spent her final two collegiate campaigns at the University of South Carolina Aiken. In her junior season with the Pacers in 2014-15, she saw time in 17 contests while earning six starts. Grisillo posted a season-best seven points and grabbed five boards against the Carson-Newman University Eagles, while dishing out a career-high six assists against Livingstone College.
As a senior student-athlete during the 2015-16 campaign, Grisillo played in 26-of-26 games with 16 starts at the point guard position. She finished second on the Pacer charts with 46 total assists, tallying a 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Grisillo dished out a season-high five assists versus Columbus State and posted a pair of steals against the Francis Marion Patriots.
Grisillo was also a terrific student off the court, graduating from USC Aiken with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and a Minor in Business Administration. She maintained a stellar 3.8 GPA while balancing her studies and athletics. Grisillo also found time to work in the USCA sports information office for Wingate alum and current Pacer SID Brent Hager (’02).
“Transitioning from a student-athlete to a coach has certainly given me a greater appreciation for my coaches in the past,” Grisillo says. “There are aspects of coaching I had no idea about as a player. I just needed to do my job on the court and everything else happened. It is amazing to see the number of hours coaches put in for their team. It is humbling to know they are willing to put in so much work for you.”
Grisillo’s specific WU coaching responsibilities include handling travel arrangements for away games, running study hall, maintaining and organizing the budget book, creating highlight tapes, supervising the team managers, making sure film is uploaded to Synergy and checking in with student-athletes on their performance in the classroom.
On game days, Grisillo is on the court with the team throughout warm-ups. During the course of each contest, she will sit on the bench keeping track of specialized data and giving in-game advice to each of the student-athletes, helping the individual and overall success of the team.
Grisillo wants to help insure the future success of the Bulldog program. “I love having the opportunity to talk with recruits on their visits,” Grisillo says. “I get the chance to discuss a shared passion for the game and the opportunity to help or guide them to the best of my ability.” Grisillo is thrilled for the unique chance to work with an All-American student-athlete and successful Division I head coach in Hancock, along with an accomplished Division I student-athlete in Stewart.
“On the court, Coach Hancock treats me just like an assistant coach,” Grisillo says. “I also get to help Coach Stewart with the post players, which is a unique experience getting to learn more about that area of the game as a point guard. It also helps me have a more well-rounded basketball IQ. I like to implement any ideas for specific drills or point out something to a player if needed. I enjoy being there to pick our student-athletes up if they make a mistake and get them excited as best I can.”
The Wingate Bulldogs are the defending South Atlantic Conference champions and seek to reclaim their conference crown in 2016-17, along with making a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. Grisillo joins a WU squad which returns four-of-five starters from the 2015-16 campaign and an experienced roster which only lost two seniors.
“I could not think of a better team with whom to begin my first year of coaching,” Grisillo says. “We are led by a great coach and I have the opportunity to come into a program that had already won the conference last season, which speaks volumes about this team and these student-athletes. This team is going to work really hard for all 40 minutes of each game…effort is never an issue.
The ‘Dogs were rated the pre-season favorites to win the SAC in the league’s 2016-17 pre-season poll voted on by the head women’s basketball coaches. The expectations are high for this season’s squad and Grisillo discussed her goals she wishes to achieve during her time at Wingate University.
“My main focus here at Wingate is to help the team be as successful as possible,” Grisillo says. “I also hope to make Coach Hancock’s job a little bit easier as well. I want to learn and grow from a very successful head coach at the Division I and II level who has also won a National Championship. I want to be there to support our student-athletes on and off the court, whether it is about basketball or life.”
Edited by: Brea Childs