Student volunteers time to coach high school basketball

By Rachael Renz
February 15, 2011

Most college students are challenged to balance schoolwork, out-of-school responsibilities and relationships. But Maryellen Anastasio, 21-year-old senior communication major, juggles school, a job and friends. In addition, she is the president of the senior class and advertising club and serves as a resident assistant. On top of all of these commitments, she is also an assistant coach for Radnor High School’s varsity girl’s basketball team.

Basketball has always been a part of Anastasio’s life, starting her career at the age of 3 and then continuing up until her junior year of college.

“When I was born, my Dad’s friend bought me a pair of basketball shoes.  I was also baptized on a basketball court while our church was being built, so it’s been in my blood since day one,” Anastasio said.

Anastasio decided that she would not be returning after her third year of playing basketball for Cabrini because of her internship with the Philadelphia Flyers. She said she felt that she needed to focus on her career in the sports field before she graduated.

But as of early January, Anastasio was given the position of assistant coach at Radnor High School.

“After Christmas, I reevaluated some things and realized that I missed playing basketball a lot. I had heard that Radnor’s girl’s [basketball] program had no females on the coaching staff so I decided to e-mail coach Jordan and athletic director Mike Friel about becoming a volunteer assistant coach,” Anastasio said.

“She e-mailed me and said she was interested in helping out with the team. We met up and I told her to come in on a Monday. We threw her in the fire right away and she bonded with the girls. Maryellen has been a breath of a fresh air. She has a great temperament for coaching and she’s so peppy, positive and energetic. I think she’d be great as a head coach,” Mark Jordan, head coach of the varsity team, said.

Jordan said that he appreciates the female perspective that Anastasio brings to the team. He believes that she is a role model for the girls.

“Having Maryellen is definitely a great change in pace because we’re always around all of these guys who really don’t understand us. She understands when we’re having a bad day, which is a great liaison between us and the male coaches,” Brittany Bentz, senior shooting guard, said.

“She encourages me a lot because she can relate more to me than the male coaches. She gives advice on the little things we do but the little things win our games so it’s good advice. When I’m on the court and I don’t make my foul shots she always tells me to keep my head up and that really helps me,” Hannah Rose Nussbaum, junior shooting guard, said.

Coaching has always been something that Anastasio has felt passionate about and one day hoped to pursue.

“I have always had a love for the game. That won’t go away even though I didn’t play this season. I still love it just as much as I did the day I picked up a ball. When I attended the NCAA Career In Sports Forum in May of last year, I took the basketball coaching track and it clicked that coaching was right for me,” Anastasio said.

Although Anastasio is following her passions, she still has other important obligations in her life. At Cabrini, she is a communication major, which has given her the opportunity to become a multimedia intern within the college’s athletic department.

She has also interned with the Flyers, gaining experience from the Wells Fargo Center and the Flyers Skate Zone in New Jersey.

On top of all of this, Anastasio now works at SolarSense, located in the Radnor Corporate Center, as a business manager.

“Right now I’m juggling a lot. I’m involved in a couple different on-campus organizations, I’m working at SolarSense, taking classes and coaching.  It get’s crazy sometimes but it keeps me busy and I like it that way,” Anastasio said.

Most of Anastasio’s obligations are preparation for her future but basketball is something that is a deep passion of hers. But through it all, Anastasio feels that basketball has taught her a lot about life. She feels that while she’s helping with coaching the team, she is also motivating and being a positive factor in the girls’ lives.

“She is always very positive. One thing we lack on this team is team spirit. She taught us to high five our teammates and pick them up when they’re feeling bad. We never did that before,” Bentz said.

So although Anastasio is battling with balancing important and various aspects in her life, she is helping the community, young women and quite possibly herself.

“The best part of my day is coaching,” Anastasio said. “I look forward to walking into the gym every day and working with the girls.”

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Rachael Renz

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