2016 brought quite a bit of history to Syracuse basketball. The Orange became the first 10 seed to reach the Final Four, Jim Boeheim celebrated his 40th season at the helm and the team had a comeback for the ages in its first ever win against Virginia in the ACC in the Elite Eight. Although it’s summer, SU made program history again by adding Katie Kolinski to the coaching staff as a graduate assistant, making her the first woman to grace the sidelines. The West Genessee High School grad was raised to bleed Orange and talked to the Fizz about hearing the news that she got the job.
“It was one of the happiest days of my life. A real dream come true. I grew up watching Syracuse basketball and ever since they won it in 2003, it has been a dream of mine to witness another championship. Coach Boeheim has been so supportive of me along with the rest of the staff so it was a true blessing.”
Orange Fizz: As the first women to hold this position, do you feel you have a bigger obligation to fulfill?
KK: “I do not feel like being a female makes me have a bigger obligation to fill but I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work ahead and I feel like I’m completely ready for the Task. They have done a great job getting me ready for this position. I just want to help the team anyway possible.
OF: Have you talked to any other women in the coaching realms of the NCAA/NBA about being a woman coaching men’s basketball
“I have actually talked to [Sacramento Kings assistant coach] Nancy Lieberman about this position and she has been nothing but supportive of me for over a year now. She has given me great pointers and has been great. “
OF: Have any of the players reached out to you since earning this spot?
KK: “Many players have reached out to me about getting this position. I have been around the team for 5 years and have created great friendships. To name a few, James Southerland, Malachi Richardson, Kaleb Joseph, Mike Gbinije, Baye Keita (who is one of my best friends), Ryan Blackwell, Gene Waldron, etc. I have talked to Chris McCullough, Tyler Ennis and Rakeem Christmas about it. All the guys on the current team have congratulated me. Everyone has seemed genuinely supportive of me since the beginning.”
OF: What made you want to get involved with men’s basketball as opposed to the women’s team?
KK: “I was open to working for the women’s or the men’s team. A position opened up as a manger on the men’s team and I grew up loving watching them play so I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn and help the team as much as possible. It would have been a blessing to work for either team because Coach Q is just as an amazing coach and person. “
OF: What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in men’s sports?
KK:“Advice I would give to other women who want to get involved in men’s sports is the sky is the limit for anyone who works hard and it’s so rewarding.”
OF: What should SU fans know about this year’s team?
“I think SU fans should be excited and it will be fun to see the pieces be put together for another great year.”