Whenever the accomplishments of local basketball talent are discussed, Kelly Mazzante’s name is at the forefront of the conversation. Such was again the case with the recent announcement that Mazzante had left Bucknell University to accept an assistant coaching position at Georgetown University.
The former Montoursville High School and Penn State University standout enjoyed a remarkable playing career. During her four years at Montoursville, she scored 3,217 points. At Penn State, she was a three-time academic All-American, and at the time of her graduation, she was the all-time scorer in Big Ten Conference basketball history (male or female). She was selected in the second round of the 2004 WNBA draft and played professionally in the WNBA and Europe for ten seasons.
Beginning the new chapter in her career, Mazzante took time to talk basketball with Webb Weekly.
WW: What led to the Georgetown coaching opportunity?
Mazzante: “I enjoyed my four years at Bucknell, but when Tasha Butts was announced as the new head coach at Georgetown University, I reached out to her. She is someone who played at Tennessee when I was at Penn State, and we were in the same WNBA draft class. We’ve known each other for some time and connected right away. We had a few conversations about the job, and I think this is a really good fit. I’m excited to get started.”
WW: What are your responsibilities?
Mazzante: “Right now, we are a new staff Tasha has put together, and she is molding us into the system she wants to put in place. All of us are recruiters. My main area of coaching concentration will be helping with the player development of the guards. We are all hands on deck. Georgetown has finished at the bottom of the Big East Conference in the last two years, so we are in rebuilding mode. The summer session will start here in a few weeks, and we’re going to get things moving.”
WW: The transfer portal is changing college sports. What are your views?
Mazzante: The transfer portal is different, but like anything in life, it has its good and its bad. With the coaching changes going on in college basketball and different opportunities arising for the players, I think it is a good thing. You don’t like situations when kids jump into the transfer portal just because they didn’t like something where they were. But it is a new era for college basketball. But today, it is a part of the daily grind of being a Division I college basketball coach, and we need to continually evolve with it.”
WW: Women’s college basketball seems to have reached increased popularity.
Mazzante: “Women’s college basketball today is as good as it has ever been. With this year’s NCAA tournament, the visibility peaked to new highs, and the NIL (name, image, likeness) is having its effects. The WNBA is in good shape, also. With the increased visibility, people are paying more attention, and that’s what we want. There is so much talent in the women’s game, and I think it is in a great place. I am happy to be a part of it on the coaching side.”
WW: What has given you the most satisfaction?
Mazzante: “Looking back and thinking about all the successes I’ve enjoyed on the teams I played for gives me great pride. The high school state championship games at Montoursville, the Big Ten, and the NCAA tournaments while at Penn State, and winning the WNBA championship in Phoenix are all great memories. Now, on the coaching side, you realize all the good things and the hard work that went into those achievements are the core memories that come back to me. Hanging banners, cutting down nets, celebrating and being at the highest point with successful teams.”
WW: Regarding the recent Brittany Griner issues playing overseas, are there dangers?
Mazzante: “I played overseas and had moments where I realized so much can happen when you are traveling, even in the United States. Obviously, being in a different country can be scary. We are happy she is safely back. It is a lot of sacrifice players deal with when they go overseas to play basketball and make a living. I am happy that I had my good seven years over there and came back safe and sound. That’s part of the professional world.”
WW: Do you have any advice for youngsters playing the game?
Mazzante: “Be it basketball, or any other interest, there is so much opportunity. If there is something someone wants to do, they should do it. There are scholarships to play, there are professional leagues, and there are different avenues to get into. I’ve always said, ‘Have dreams.’ Go after those dreams. I was so fortunate to have a great support system. I loved the game and had a great team around me and was able to play at the highest level. Looking back, I think about all the people that helped me along the way. There is a whole world out there, but always remember where you come from. Go out there and try to accomplish whatever your heart desires.”
WW: Would you like to be a head college basketball coach?
Mazzante: “I aspire to do my best in the profession. If I could be a head coach someday, absolutely. Now ten years into the coaching profession, it’s about who you work with; the student-athletes and location do matter. I’m just going to take it a year at a time, try and give back like my coaches at Penn State did for me, and see where it takes me.”