McCormick Adds Valuable Experience To Women’s Staff

stehanie mccormick

Following her first season as Siena head coach, Ali Jaques faced an important decision in filing the assistant coaching vacancy left with the departure of Margaret Spaulding. She turned to Stephanie McCormick, a highly experienced assistant coach who had become available after the firing of her Head Coach Kellie Harper at N.C. State. Although Jaques and McCormick didn’t know each other all that well, they had competed against one another as assistant coaches while Jaques was at Furman and McCormick was at Western Carolina. Jaques saw McCormick’s vast experience as a key to getting the Saints to the next level.

“Coach Mac brings ACC experience,” said Jaques. “We battled against each other as assistant coaches in the Southern Conference and I couldn’t be more excited to have someone with her experience in the post. She’s already had a major impact on our players and our recruiting.”

McCormick comes to Siena with 19 years of Division 1 coaching experience. She began her coaching career at Western Carolina from 1994-97. After stops at UNC-Wilmington (1997-01), Charlotte (2001-03) and Georgia Tech (2003-04), she returned to Western Carolina to serve under Harper (2004-09). She followed Harper to NC State (2009-13) and helped lead the Wolfpack to three postseason appearances, advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 2010. Overall, her teams have made eight postseason appearances (four each in the NCAA Tournament and WNIT).

Having served as recruiting coordinator at major programs, McCormick’s recruiting classes have multiple times been ranked amongst the best in the country. Jaques jumped at the chance to add that experience to her staff.

“When you’re recruiting at a school like N.C. State, you’re battling big time ACC people,” said Jaques. “I know what that feels like from a Big 10 standpoint but her ACC experience is irreplaceable for us. It’s helped Coach Castleberry and Coach Grant. It’s helped me. It’s helped everybody. She knows how to be a recruiting coordinator at the highest level.”

A 1994 graduate of Catawba College, the High Point, N.C. native was the first player in her school’s history to reach both 1,000 career points and rebounds. She holds Catawba’s school record for both career (1,244) and single season rebounds (374). McCormick’s experience and knowledge in the paint will be a key for the Saints who are attempting to fill the void left by the graduation of All-MAAC First teamer Lily Grenci and Kate Zarotney, who was lost to a career-ending injury.

“She’s a pro,” Jaques said. “She’s a great post coach. She understands how to teach the game.”

For McCormick, choosing her next move as a coach was not taken lightly. She found Siena to be just what she was looking for.

“Researching it and looking into it, knowing that I needed to be very specific in the next step I made in my career, it just seemed like the right fit. It seemed like a good choice as far as where I wanted my career to go and what I wanted to do in this next phase of my life. I’m ready to win another championship. It’s been a while and I don’t like that. Once you get a taste, you know what it is and you know what it takes.”

McCormick’s experience has shown her what it takes to build a top-notch program. She saw those elements coming together at Siena and was sold on making the move to Loudonville.

“I knew you need administrative support and community support. That’s the big thing when I came in to interview and talked with Coach Jaques and the rest of the staff. There is definitely a connection here with the community and the administration. They’re building facilities. There’s crazy talk about conference moving and things like that. It just seemed exciting. It seemed like a good time to do this so, here I am.”

The move to a small private college has been a bit of an adjustment for McCormick but she has found it to be positive one.

“I’ve always been at state universities and big football schools. So much attention was taken away from basketball. Now it IS the basketball program. People here have been incredible. People have been fantastic, helping me to adjust, knowing that I’m coming from something so different. They’ve been just right there, ready to help me and that’s been nice.”

Jaques is thrilled with the addition of McCormick and the impact she is already having since her arrival.

“From a personality standpoint, she’s one of the friendliest, happiest people. She’s got an awesome personality that our staff needs. She keeps it light and the girls really enjoy her. It’s good because I can get serious at times and I can get intense. She’s intense too but can balance that for us.”

So as the Saints are making final preparations for the season which kicks off on Nov. 8th against U Albany at the Times Union Center, McCormick sums up what she sees so far in her new role.

“I’m impressed with the commitment to women’s basketball,” said McCormick. “I’m very impressed. I’m impressed with the commitment from the players. Their drive is incredible. They do it for the team. It is all about the team. At some points you see too much ‘ME’ in team sports, but not here. And, they’re tough as nails. Extremely resilient and tough as nails and they play so hard. That’s fun and inspiring. It really is.”

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