Entering his 13th season at the helm of Penn women’s basketball, Mike McLaughlin has firmly established himself as one of the most respected and esteemed coaches in both the Ivy League and country while solidifying the Quakers as a nationally renowned program. McLaughlin was hired as the eighth head coach in program history on April 24, 2009.
A four-time Philadelphia Big 5 Coach of the Year, McLaughlin has a career record of 606-184 (.767) and has posted 20 or more wins in 21 of his 25 seasons as a head coach, including six 30-win seasons. The Philadelphia native has won 14 conference titles, is a 20-time Conference Coach of the Year, won his 500th game as a head coach during the 2015-16 season and then his 600th during the 2019-20 campaign.
McLaughlin has built the Penn women's basketball program into an Ivy League powerhouse. The Quakers have won at least 20 games in seven consecutive seasons, have clinched four Ivy League championships and three NCAA Tournament berths in 2014, 2016, and 2017, while winning the program's first two Big 5 titles in 2014-15 and 2017-18. Penn has reached the postseason in each of the last eight seasons (a school record) and is in the midst of its most successful stretch of time in program history. Penn qualified for the 2020 Ivy League Tournament as the No. 2 seed before its cancellation due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Penn continued its winning ways in the 2019-20 season, racking up 20 wins yet again, finishing 20-7 overall and 10-4 in Ivy League play. The Quakers reached 10 Ancient Eight wins for the 10th time in program history and, remarkably, for the sevent consecutive year. With another successful season, a pair of players donning the Red and Blue were honored after the season with two of the league's top honors. Eleah Parker was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in her career, the second player under McLaughlin to earn the award on at least two occasions. McLaughlin also oversaw the emergence of freshman Kayla Padilla, who was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, coincidentally becoming the first Quaker to win the award since Parker did in 2017-18. Both Parker and Padilla were first-team All-Ivy selections but, despite earning the No. 2 seed in the Ivy League Tournament, all postseason tournaments were canceled.
McLaughlin took a team that had lost three starters and nearly half of its scoring production from a year before to the top of the Ivy League standings in 2018-19, as the Quakers earned their fourth Ivy League regular season title in six years, matching the program record set in 2015-16 with 24 wins on the year, including a 12-2 mark in the Ivy League. Penn finished the year with an RPI of 57 while boasting many individual accolades including another Ivy League Coach of the Year honor for McLaughlin, Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and unanimous first-team All-Ivy status for Eleah Parker, and second-team accolades for seniors Ashley Russell and Princess Aghayere. After advancing to the Ivy League Tournament Championship for the third time in as many years, Penn earned its seventh-straight postseason appearance, winning a game in the WNIT. As a group, Russell, Aghayere and fellow seniors Deja Jackson and Kristen Daley left Penn as the program’s all-time winningest class, with 92 victories.
McLaughlin is the only coach in the Ivy League to lead his team to at least 20-wins in each of the last seven seasons.
The 2017-18 season saw records and accolades fall left and right for the Quakers, a common theme of the McLaughlin era at Penn. As a team, the Red and Blue totaled an overall record of 22-9, including an 11-3 mark in Ivy League action. As the No. 2 seed, the Quakers advanced to the Ivy League Tournament Championship for the second time in as many years, and tallied their fourth postseason victory with a win over UAlbany in the opening round of the WNIT.
Individually, the quartet of Beth Brzozowski, Michelle Nwokedi, Anna Ross and Lauren Whitlatch concluded an impressive four-year span of success in 2018. Nwokedi solidified her name in Penn history, finishing her career fifth in scoring, second in rebounds, second in blocks and tied for first with Ross in games played in a career with the Red and Blue. Ross finished her career first in program history in both the career and single season assist categories, while Whitlatch tallied the second-most 3-pointers in a season ever for the Quakers. Freshman Eleah Parker boasted a standout year, becoming the fourth under McLaughlin's tutelage to earn Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors, joined on All-Ivy with Ross and Nwokedi, as Nwokedi became the third in program history to earn three first-team All-Ivy accolades.
The 2016-17 season continued the culture of success known during the McLaughlin era, where the Quakers posted a 22-8 overall record and 13-1 mark in Ivy League games. The Red and Blue won the inaugural Ivy League Tournament with a decisive 57-48 win over Princeton, the third over the Tigers in 2016-17, and booked their trip to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 12 seed. Penn led Texas A&M wall-to-wall in the NCAA First Round and gave the Aggies all they could handle in Los Angeles, but the upset bid fell just short with a 63-61 defeat at Pauley Pavilion.
The Quakers once again saw several individuals earn accolades for their performances during the season, with Michelle Nwokedi being named the Ivy League Player of the Year, a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection and an All-Big 5 honoree. Sydney Stipanovich (second-team All-Big 5) and Anna Ross were named second-team All-Ivy selections while McLaughlin brought home Ivy League Coach of the Year honors.
2015-16 broke multiple records under McLaughlin’s tutelage. The Quakers concluded the year with 24 total wins and 11 non-conference victories (both school records) and finished the season with the highest RPI in program history at No. 27 to earn the Ivy League title. The team also posted eight wins over schools ranked in the top-100 of the RPI and finished the year with the highest NCAA tournament seed in school history (No. 10). Additionally, McLaughlin notched his 500th win as a head coach and his 100th as a Quaker during the course of the season.
Individuals have thrived under McLaughlin’s coaching environment. Sydney Stipanovich was named the 2015-16 Ivy League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the first player in Ivy history to win both in the same season. Additionally, Stipanovich and Michelle Nwokedi were each named first-team All-Ivy and Big 5 honorees while the former entered the Red and Blue record books as Penn’s all-time blocks leader.
In 2013-14, the Quakers tied a school record for wins in a season and earned the outright Ivy championship with the second-best league mark in program history. The Quakers earned their first win over an ACC opponent (at Miami) and earned back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time ever. With that resume, the Red and Blue entered the NCAA Tournament against fifth-seeded Texas and led by as much as 15 and seven at the half before falling 79-61. Penn boasted the 2013-14 Ivy League Player of the Year, Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Ivy League Defensive Player of the year -- the first school to sweep all three awards. The Quakers also became the first school to sweep Big 5 Player, Coach and Rookie of the Year awards.
In 2011-12, the Quakers posted the best 10-game start in school history en route to the program's highest win total in seven years. That momentum carried into the 2012-13 season where the Quakers posted the program's second-highest win total of all-time and recorded the first two postseason wins in school history.
Seven of McLaughlin's recruiting classes have produced the Big 5 or Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Prior to his tenure, only one Penn player had ever earned Big 5 Rookie of the Year accolades, but five have done so under his watch.
Penn's win total improved in each of McLaughlin's seven seasons as the Quakers went from two wins to a school-record 25 victories in that span. He entered the 2009-10 season with the highest winning percentage of any head coach in college basketball - men's and women's, at any level. However, facing one of the toughest non-conference schedules in decades and inheriting a team that lost 74 percent of its scoring, including the Ivy League's top scorer, Penn finished last in the Ivy League in his first season at the helm.
A year later, with his first recruiting class in place, Penn turned in the largest single-season turnaround in program history. Alyssa Baron became the first freshman in Ivy history to lead the league in scoring and became just the second player in school history to earn Ivy League and Big 5 Rookie of the Year honors.
McLaughlin's Quakers have also been extraordinarily active off the court in support of local, national and international causes. The "Charge for a Cure" initiative raised nearly $10,000, which is in addition to the $6,500 raised for breast cancer awareness and the 400-plus pairs of shoes collected in 2010 for Haitian citizens in need after the nation's devastating earthquake. The Quakers also adopted 13-year-old Emily Miccarelli, a brain cancer survivor, through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation for the 2009-10 season. Penn has partnered with the American Cancer Society for the 3-Point Challenge each of the last two seasons, finishing eighth nationally in 2018 with a total of $3,265 raised, while Michelle Nwokedi kickstarted a campaign in the fall of 2017 to raise money for hometown of Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
Prior to Penn, McLaughlin enjoyed unprecedented success at NCAA Division II member Holy Family University, where in 14 seasons as head coach of the women’s basketball team he had a career equal to anyone who has coached the game. McLaughlin racked up an impressive record of 407 wins and 61 losses, a winning percentage of .870 which was the highest at any level of NCAA Basketball (men or women). Out of his 14 seasons as a head coach, McLaughlin was honored as the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Coach of the Year 13 times.
McLaughlin’s teams won at least 25 games in each of his 14 years as Holy Family’s head coach. In six of those years (1998, 2000-03, 2008), the Tigers won 30 games, including a pair of 32-win seasons (1998 and 2008). Holy Family reached 29 wins three other times (1999, 2006, 2007).
McLaughlin was a two-year assistant on the women’s staff at Holy Family before taking the reins as its third head coach in 1995-96.
In 2008-09, McLaughlin won his 400th game as a head coach faster than any other women’s basketball coach in NCAA history, doing it in 459 games. The Division I record is held by Leon Barmore, who needed 463 games to reach the milestone at Louisiana Tech, while the Division III record is 464 games set by Nancy Fahey at Washington University (Mo.).
In the classroom at both Holy Family and Penn, every one of his four-year players have graduated. McLaughlin’s Holy Family program was rated the best in Division II by the College Bound Student Athletes (CBSA) guide on two occasions.
A graduate of Holy Family, McLaughlin received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. From his stellar playing career at Holy Family, he remains ninth all-time in scoring with 1,710 points and third with 755 assists. McLaughlin also remains the best three-pointer shooter to wear a Tiger uniform, connecting on 57.7 percent (161-of-279) of his attempts in his four seasons. He also holds the top two three-point shooting percentages for a season - in 1989 McLaughlin hit 59.3 percent of his shots, and in 1988 he was a 58.5-percent shooter.
McLaughlin also spent three seasons with the Washington Generals/Harlem Globetrotters, where he served as the Generals’ team captain as he played in more than 50 countries throughout the world.
McLaughlin lives with his wife Ginny and three children (Courtney, Michael and Kelsey).Read more »
Kelly Killion enters her seventh straight year and ninth overall on the Quaker sidelines in 2021-22.
Killion has overseen the success of two Ivy League champion teams in her time with the Quakers, including the program's fourth title in a six-year span in 2018-19 as the Quakers went 24-7 and 12-2 in league play.
During the 2019-20 campaign, Killion worked with the guards helping guide Kayla Padilla to Ivy League Rookie of the Year and first-team All-Ivy honors while also mentoring point guard Kendall Grasela, who finished seventh in the nation in assist/TO ratio and led the Ivy League in assist/TO ratio and assists per game. Padilla finished sixth nationally among all freshmen and second overall in the league in scoring at 17.4 points per game.
While also previously working with the post players, Eleah Parker has become one of the dominant forces in the conference, earning unanimous Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors in 2018 and following that up as a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. Parker finished the season third nationally in blocked shots per game (3.19), tying the program's single season record with 99 on the year. In 2019-20, Parker defended her honor, winning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards while earning first-team All-Ivy honors once more.
Vital to the 2018-19 team's championship-level success was senior forward Princess Aghayere, who stepped off the bench for the first time in her career with the Red and Blue for a forceful final campaign, more than doubling her previous single-season point total and earning second-team All-Ivy status and was named the Most Improved Player by the Big 5.
Parker's immediate dominance for the Red and Blue helped vault Penn to its second Big 5 championship in program history in 2017-18, as the Quakers finished second in the Ivy League and earned a bid to the WNIT. Parker was also named second-team All-Ivy, joined in postseason accolades by Michelle Nwokedi's first-team All-Ivy and All-Big 5 accolades and Anna Ross' second-team nods.
Killion was an integral part of Penn’s NCAA Tournament run in 2016-17 and continued the culture of success known during the McLaughlin era. The Quakers posted a 22-8 overall record and 13-1 mark in Ivy League games under her tutelage as the Red and Blue won the inaugural Ivy League Tournament with a decisive 57-48 win over Princeton, the third over the Tigers in 2016-17, and booked their trip to the Big Dance as the No. 12 seed. Penn led Texas A&M wall-to-wall in the NCAA First Round and gave the Aggies all they could handle in Los Angeles, but the upset bid fell just short with a 63-61 defeat at Pauley Pavilion.
The Quakers saw several individual earn accolades for their performances during the season, with Michelle Nwokedi being named the Ivy League Player of the Year, a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy selection and an All-Big 5 honoree. Sydney Stipanovich (Second Team All-Big 5) and Anna Ross were named Second-Team All-Ivy selections under Killion’s guidance.
Killion began her collegiate coaching career with the Quakers under McLaughlin, spending two seasons in Philadelphia from 2010-12 during her first stint with the Red and Blue. While at Penn, she helped the Quakers to its largest single-season turnaround in program history which included the program’s first Big 5 win in six years. In 2010-11, Alyssa Baron to become the first freshman in Ivy League history to lead the conference in scoring and the second player in program history to garner Ivy League and Big 5 Rookie of the Year honors under Killion’s tutelage.
Killion returned to Penn following three seasons with the College of William & Mary. During her time with the Tribe, Killion helped William and Mary to two back-to-back record-setting seasons with 15 wins, the fourth-most in school history, en route to its first-ever postseason appearance with a bid in the Women’s Basketball Invitational in 2015. Killion played an integral part in player development, recruiting, and scouting for the College and helped William & Mary to a top-10 NCAA ranking in steals per game while four players earned six All-CAA accolades under her tutelage.
Prior to her appointment at William & Mary, Killion served as an assistant coach at Sacred Heart University for the 2012-13 season. She led the Pioneers to their first-ever appearance in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament and helped coach three All-NEC selections during her time in Fairfield, playing a vital role in recruiting and player development.
Killion was a four-year letterwinner and a three-time team captain at Holy Family University in Philadelphia, Pa. There, she was a two-time Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Player of the Year, a two-time ECAC first-team selection and a two-time second-team selection. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Holy Family in 2008, and was recently named to the Holy Family Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2021 while her 2007-08 team was inducted into the 2017 CACC Hall of Fame.
Kelly and Edward welcomed their first child, Edward Lee Bacerra III in December 2020.Read more »
Ashley Robinson enters her third season of her second stint with the Quakers in 2020-21, fourth overall.
Robinson returned to her role with the post players in 2019, helping Eleah Parker dominate the paint, earning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year honors for two straight seasons while also serving as a first-team All-Ivy selection.
Before taking a position at Northeastern, Robinson joined forces with Coach Kelly Killion in focusing primarily on the Penn post players, helping to guide Parker to unanimous Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. Parker's prowess, combined with the success of a strong senior class featuring All-Ivy playmakers Michelle Nwokedi and Anna Ross, led the Quakers to their second ever Big 5 championship in 2017-18, while earning a berth to the WNIT.
During her playing days, Robinson served as team captain for Big-5 rival Saint Joseph’s from 2013-15 and was a varsity letter winner from 2009-2015. She was a part of the 2013 Atlantic-10 Conference championship team and led the Hawks to back-to-back 2013 and 2014 NCAA Division I Tournament appearances. The team also made the National Invitational Tournament three consecutive years from 2010-2012. During that time, Robinson was the recipient of the Patricia Ryan Unsung Hero Award (2014 & 2015) and received the Roosevelt Hunter Community Service Award in 2015.
Robinson began coaching early in her playing career and was a counselor for a number of local camps in the Philadelphia area, including the Old School Basketball Camp (2011-2014), the Phil Martelli Basketball Camp (2011-2014) and the Cindy Griffin Basketball Camp where she served as the director from 2010-2014. Her first step in the collegiate coaching world involved a stint at Holy Family University in 2016-17.
Robinson earned her degree from Saint Joseph’s University, Ervin K. Haub School of Business in 2013 and went on to earn her Masters from Saint Joseph’s in Business Administration and in Science with a concentration on Managing Human Capital in 2015.
A standout at Archbishop Wood, Robinson was a three-time All-Catholic League honoree and was a two-time First Team Associated Press and All-Intelligencer honoree.Read more »
Kendall Grasela Nu'20 returns to the women's basketball program, this time as an assistant coach, entering her first season in 2021-22.
"I am ecstatic to have Kendall return to our program as an assistant coach," McLaughlin said. "As a former player in our program, she was the ultimate teammate and a proven winner, having won Ivy League championships in 2017 and 2019 along with a Big Five championship in 2018. With her experiences, both on and off the court as a student-athlete here at Penn, she will be able to provide our players with the guidance they need to be successful in all areas."
Grasela brings a wealth of knowledge to the staff, playing under McLaughlin from 2016-2020. Playing in 99 games with 57 starts, she totaled 255 points, 252 assists, 91 steals and 187 rebounds. Her senior season, as a team captain, she was just one of seven Quakers to play in all 27 games and one of just four to start every game. Dishing out 118 assists, she ranked 10th in a single season in program history, only 10 assists from fourth all-time. She led the Ivy League in assists per game that season, while ranking seventh in the nation in assist/turnover ratio with a mark of 2.8.
"It is such a privilege to be given the opportunity to return to my alma mater as an assistant coach," Grasela said. "When Coach McLaughlin called, I was so excited to be around the sport that I love again. Returning to the Penn WBB family grants me the chance to learn from one of the best coaches in the country, grow as a coach, and help mentor the younger players."
Graduating from the School of Nursing in 2020, she was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team her senior season. She currently is working at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for NICU.
"Kendall is one of the most loyal and family-oriented people that I know, and I look forward to watching her grow in her new role as a coach," McLaughlin continued.
"I truly believe basketball is the game that keeps on giving and am beyond grateful to give back to a program that did so much for me," Grasela said. "There is truly no place like home!"
Christine Woods enters her seventh season as the Director of Basketball Operations for the Penn women's basketball program in 2020-21.
Woods handles all administrative duties for the program and came to Penn after spending three seasons as an assistant coach at her alma mater Holy Family. During that time, the Tigers won a regular season and two tournament conference titles, and made two NCAA Division II Tournament appearances.
She played three seasons under Mike McLaughlin during her four-year playing career at HFU from 2006-2010. Woods, formerly McCollum, appeared in 130 games for the Tigers as the team went an impressive 117-13, including 77-0 in conference play. She was a member of two of McLaughlin's Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Championship teams (2007 & 2008) and made four NCAA Division II Tournament appearances. The Tigers advanced to the East Region Championship final twice during her career in 2008 and 2010.
Woods was a three-time All-CACC selection after receiving the honors the final three years of her career. She earned second team accolades in 2009 and 2010 and third team honors in 2008. Woods was also a three-time CACC All-Academic selection.
Her familiarity with McLaughlin's system deemed a perfect addition to the Penn coaching staff, as she has been a part of three Ivy League championships (2016, '17, '19) and a Big Five title in 2018.
She graduated from Holy Family in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in elementary/special education. Woods resides in the Philadelphia area with her husband, Sean, and recently welcomed their first child, Sean Michael Woods, Jr., in August.Read more »