Wignot transitions from women’s hoops player to team graduate assistant


Former Pitt player Monica Wignot joins the women's basketball coaching staff. Pitt News File Photo

By Logan Hitchcock / Staff Writer

As a Pitt women’s basketball practice comes to a close, four of last year’s starters made their way to center court to huddle with the rest of the team.

Only three — Stasha Carey, Aysia Bugg and Yacine Diop — sported the reversible blue and gold jerseys that denote their status as players.

The other was Monica Wignot.

Wignot, a starter and pivotal piece to the Pitt team that made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, has stayed on at Pitt — but this season, Wignot will trade in her jersey, gym shorts and high-top Nikes for a whistle and a clipboard.

Balancing classes toward a master’s degree in social work and an internship at the Jade Wellness Center in Monroeville, Wignot is now the team’s graduate assistant during her second year of graduate school. Wignot’s role varies, but she keeps the clock and score at practice, as well as tracking stats and possessions during games.

Despite the shift in title, Pitt women’s basketball head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said some things haven’t changed, like Wignot’s effect on the players around her.

“She brings so much to our staff,” McConnell-Serio said. “There’s a calmness about her. Anytime she’s around, she lightens the mood.”

The coaches selected Wignot as the team’s graduate assistant — she receives compensation in free tuition and a housing stipend.

As a player in the program last year, Wignot was an enforcer, responsible for putting balls through the net and keeping opponents from doing the same. In her first and only year as a collegiate basketball player, she made the ACC All-Academic team and finished second on the team in points per game, third in rebounds and narrowly missed breaking a Pitt single-season record for blocks, all while helping mature and grow a young core of players around her on and off the court.

This year, she’ll be trying to help her team from the sidelines while taking on a new role without the ball in her hand.

“It’s a little different, because I’m on the other side now,” Wignot said.

She said her job takes her more out of the focus on the court than last season, but she still provides key contributions to the team.

“I’m behind the scenes at practice a lot,” she said. “Working the clock, keeping stats and keeping the score. As we start facing opponents, it’ll become a little more hands-on.”

According to Wignot, as the season progresses, she anticipates helping with scouting reports, PowerPoints, putting together game film for team use and occasionally getting the chance to rebound and pass at practice.

Though most of her responsibilities are off the court and she doesn’t have as much direct communication with the players, Wignot said not much has changed in her relationship with the team.

“It’s helpful that we still have really good relationships. If they still need to come talk to me about anything, I still have that open connection with them,” she said.

Diop, one of a small group of returning starters who played with Wignot last season, said Wignot still helps the team like she did last year, albeit in new ways now.

“You can definitely feel her presence,” Diop said. “It’s a positive one.”

Still, the change from player to assistant has changed some dynamics between Wignot and the coaches, at least according to head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio.

“Immediately you realize how much you miss her and what she brought to our team. It drives me crazy that she can’t be out there with them,” McConnell-Serio said.

Replicating her importance to the team last year will be nearly impossible, but Bugg, a returning sophomore guard, said even last year, not all of Wignot’s help came directly from her performance on the court.

“She’s on the sidelines giving us hints or tips and telling us what we should look at,” Bugg said.

Wignot knows that coaching comes down to giving advice and creating a calm and positive atmosphere. While she said she’s adjusted to the role well, she doesn’t know if this opportunity is going to lead to a career in coaching basketball.

“I’m not sure yet, because it’s such a new experience for me,” Wignot said. “If I start doing this and fall in love with it, it may be something I’ll pursue down the road.”

As a potential future career path, Wignot said she is thankful to be around collegiate athletics for another season.

“I’m just happy to be a part of it,” she said.

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