SCHENECTADY — Katie Marcella is due to deliver her first child on July 17, and she and her wife Taylor already know that the baby is a girl.
Asked if she had considered waiting until the birth to know the gender, Marcella laughed and said, “Nope. Too much of a planner.”
Not so much that she ever planned to come home to work, though, but here she is, having been introduced as Union College’s new women’s basketball head coach on Friday afternoon.
She takes over for Mary Ellen Burt, who retired in May after 26 seasons and 344 victories, and will be coaching a few miles from her family’s business, Marcella’s Applicance Center, and a few more miles away from where Katie Marcella was a standout basketball player for Guilderland High School.
Marcella comes to Union after six years as the head coach at Hartwick, where she earned Empire 8 Coaching Staff of the Year in 2018-19 following a 23-5 record and a conference tournament victory.
“Professionally, it’s a great move,” Marcella said. “It’s a much higher academic college, it’s a better athletic conference, but, yeah, this is home for me.
“My wife and I recently built a house in the Schalmont school district, so we’re already here, we don’t need to move. My family has a business that’s been here for 65 years. Growing up here, it’s nice to be back home. Never thought I’d land here, but kind of always waited for the opportunity.”
She has a daunting legacy to follow, as Burt is the winningest head coach in a single sport in school history.
Burt is remaining at Union to coach women’s golf, and Marcella has spoken to her for input on how things work at Union and the program she’s inheriting.
The Dutchwomen graduated two seniors from a team that did not play in 2020-21 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Yeah, I think there’s pressure following coach Burt,” Marcella said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity. The roster is really healthy, which is great, and they were right in the middle of the pack, close to the top of the pack in the Liberty League when they could play, before COVID.”
“The funny thing is, every year Hartwick and Union is the first game of the year. So, yes, that’s going to be a little bit strange. The nice thing that I’ve heard from the girls and the staff and the administration here is that the culture of the women’s program and what coach Burt built is absolutely phenomenal. So I don’t have to re-invent the wheel there.”
Marcella, a good three-point shooter who considered herself a defense-minded player at Guilderland, went on to play four years at SUNY Brockport, where she was a two-time All-SUNYAC selection and graduated as the 11th all-time leading scorer at the school.
Her coaching stops include Monmouth (Ill.) College and six years at Keuka College, including the last two-plus seasons as head coach. She led the Storm to a 47-20 record, including a North Eastern Athletic Conference title in 2012.
Marcella’s overall record in five seasons at Hartwick was 71-50 (.550).
“We want to play fast,” she said. “I think it’s fun to watch. When I was in the Empire 8, we led the conference in points per game a couple times, so we want to pick up the pace. We’re going to get after it on offense and defense, and with the depth, we’ll be able to press a little bit and hopefully speed up the game on both sides of the ball.”
CIRESI TO HARTWICK
The Union-Hartwick pipeline went in the other direction for the men’s team, as assistant coach Nick Ciresi has been hired as Hartwick’s next men’s basketball head coach.
Ciresi has spent the last seven seasons at Union, his alma mater, where he served five as the men’s basketball program’s top assistant coach, and the last two as the associate head coach.
“This is an opportunity that I am eager to embrace, at an institution with rich academic and athletic tradition,” Ciresi said in a release.
Ciresi helped guide Union to Liberty League championships and NCAA Tournament berths in 2017 and 2018. Ciresi and head coach Chris Murphy were named the Liberty League Coaching Staff of the Year in 2017-18, when Union went 19-9 and tied for seventh in victories in a season in program history.
Ciresi will make his head coaching debut on Saturday, Nov. 6 at Hartwick’s Lambros Arena against Union.