Women’s basketball GA Grisillo earns promotion to assistant coach

By Harrison Taylor, Staff Writer

What do you do when the thing you love the most is suddenly out of your reach? Do you give up? Or do you find another way to channel that love in a different way?

Most athletes who tear their ACL probably wouldn’t go the route that Katelyn Grisillo, Wingate’s new women’s assistant basketball coach, decided to go.

katelyn-grisillo

Grisillo, a graduate assistant coach here for the past two years, recently earned a promotion to the full-time staff after assistant coach Celeste Stewart left to take a new job at East Carolina University.

As she comes in to tell me about the career she had before coming to Wingate, Grisillo beams with level-headed energy with a positive, headstrong attitude pressing on the front of her words. She apologizes for being late, as she’s been out all day preparing for the camp her team is about to endure, and apparently, I’m lucky I caught her before it started.

Grisillo quickly goes through a decade and a half worth of athletic history with me; starting to play when she was a young in Charleston, S.C., her transfer to USC-Aiken, and her eventual ACL tear during her junior year that changed things for her.

“You know, two years on the bench…it kind of gave me a different perspective. I wanted to know the ins and outs of what we were doing. And honestly what brings me back is the relationships…those coaches and the relationships, they formed with me, they still valued me as a person,” Grisillo says, speaking passionately of her experiences that led her to pursue coaching as a potential career path.

In addition to loving the game of basketball, Grisillo loves to play racquetball, has a dog named Jessie (a retriever/husky mix), and clearly has a strong connection with her players, as one walks in to get a room key from her while she continues to explain her love for the game.

Grisillo was a graduate assistant coach and a student in Wingate’s Master’s in Sports Management program before getting hired. She’s worked with the team and Coach Ann Hancock as they won two South Atlantic Conference championships.

“We’ve done pretty well…we would all like to see us get a step further. We made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament two years in a row…we need to get across that hump and get that Elite Eight appearance. That would be a nice place to get to,” she says. 

The topic of winning and getting further as a team brings a new side out of her as she speaks, looking annoyed by having to even mention that a school like Carson-Newman made it further than they did in the NCAA tournament.

“They made it this year and they’re out of our conference. It would be nice if we could be the one to make it out of the SAC.”

But, she reiterates that winning isn’t just about games.

“I think that enhancing our winning culture that we want to create is important. Not just winning games, not just having a fantastic record, but, doing things that winners do…going the extra mile on the court, in the classroom, as people. Coach Hancock teaches a lot of life lessons. [She says]‘Be a giver, not a taker.’”

From turning an injury into a new perspective, and then into a new career, Grisillo has come a long way from playing as a kid in Charleston, and she plans to continue driving those messages of perseverance into her team.

“Whatever we can do to instill those principles in the girls, that matters more than making it past the second round,” Grisillo finishes, before speaking more on the chemistry she and Coach Hancock have and the enjoyment she gets working with her.

Grisillo leaves quickly, seemingly preparing for the camp she’s about to go through with her girls. It’s clear her energy is welcome on the court, and her love for the game is still thriving through the “winning culture” she and Hancock are making sure the team is prescribed to.

Bench-Warmers Without a Bench: N.C. Should Fund All K-12 Sports

By Harrison Taylor, Staff Writer

Every day between the hours of seven and nine, my 16-year-old brother practices his extra craft: playing varsity football for his school. He plays because he loves the sport. The activity provides him structure, balance, and, most importantly, something to do.

I can remember when he first started playing when he was in fifth grade. A nosy family member asked one day after his practice, “Why do you spend all this time on this? What’s the point?”

Another relative replied, “Well, you must start somewhere.”

While his school, Cuthbertson High School, has dozens of sports and activities, another school in the same county, Monroe High School (A school located in a poorer part of the county), doesn’t even have a baseball field. Students who play must share a field with another school nearby.

While sports at Monroe are bound and plentiful, some may be cancelled due to no adult volunteer to coach the team. Compared with other schools in the area, Monroe has an average of 25 percent less athletic opportunities than the top three schools in Union County.

The lack of funding schools like Monroe receive for athletics and extracurriculars is no secret. According to Union County Public School’s 2017 Individual School Financial Statements, Cuthbertson had a receipt of $212,944 for their athletic programs, while Monroe had a significantly less receipt of $159,286 for their programs.

When a school has less funding for sports, what happens to kids in places like Monroe? Students are left without equipment, volunteers, and without an activity. Activities can be essential in an adolescent or child’s development and can even predict whether that child is going to graduate high school or go to college.

This point is discussed heavily in Robert Putnam’s book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. Putnam’s research points to the impact sports and activities have for developing social skills, a child’s community involvement, and even their future economic success.

Putnam argues that important adult mentors from outside a child’s family come directly from sports, as these ‘have nots’–which Putnam defines as kids who come from lower income areas that struggle with providing extracurriculars–can be excluded from experiences that kids at more wealthy schools are given on an almost daily basis.

My brother gets to play football just by participating in a local fundraiser and paying for his jersey. This may not be the same for the students at Monroe High School. What are the consequences of such experiences for these students? When a kid wants to play lacrosse and is simply told, “We don’t have a coach or the money.”

A few weeks ago, teachers from around the state of North Carolina gathered in Raleigh to demand more funding for education. Last week, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the state budget due to small proposed increases education saw in this budget. Just two days ago, the NC General Assembly voted to override his veto as the new budget passed.

But, there is still time to talk about what goes into a future state budget. Just as teachers have become fed up with being underpaid and underappreciated, perhaps this is an opportunity to look at those who have been underfunded and overlooked.

Our state budget shouldn’t just increase teacher pay and funding for their curriculum. The budget should go beyond the classroom and allow the kids who want to play to do so.

This would increase graduation rates, get kids in poor areas off the streets, and allow talented student athletes to shine regardless of their location. Putnam’s ‘have nots’ can have a lot if we choose to help them.

The kids in Monroe deserve a fighting chance. North Carolina should fund all K-12 sports for the same reason they should buy more textbooks: You must start somewhere.

Edited by: Rachael Robinson

Wingate athlete compares Division I, Division II experiences

By Emarius Logan, Staff Writer 

Every high school basketball player dreams of playing basketball at the highest collegiate level when they graduate. The goal for many is to get that big-time Division I offer to play at the next level.

I’ve had the opportunity to play at both the Division I and the Division II level. I played at Division I Appalachian State University in Boone for two years before deciding to transfer and finish up at Wingate.

There are some major differences, two being in the financial benefits and the off-season program.

Basketball programs at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level of Division I benefit tremendously from their school’s participation at that level. Schools at the Division I level offer 13 full basketball scholarships while at the Division II level they offer only 10 full scholarships.

At App State you were allowed to get refund checks back from your financial aid as well as to receive a cost-of-attendance stipend from the athletic department. App State is in a lower-level FBS conference (Sun Belt), so the stipend was not as large as at some bigger programs. You could receive anywhere from $3,500 to $9,500 for the year depending on your financial aid refund.

Any financial aid received at Wingate is applied to tuition, room and board so the only way to get a cash refund is to take out a student loan.

The other major difference is in the rules as they relate to offseason workouts and practice. Division I schools are allowed six full-time assistant coaches as compared to two at the Division II level. So off-season as well as in-season workouts are more intense and in-depth due to the more limited individual contact with a coach.

At App State, players could work out six hours a week with a coach — two hours of individual workouts, two hours of team practice and two hours of weight training. At Wingate, you’re not allowed to work out with coaches at all during the off-season, including summer.

All your development as a player during that time has to come on your own, because the rules don’t allow this to happen.

Emarius Logan will be a senior on the Wingate University men’s basketball team during the 2018-19 season. He is from Columbia, S.C.