To enter the 2018-19 season, Slippery Rock women’s basketball will have five coaches working alongside the 16 student-athletes, which includes two student assistant coaches in Krista Pietropola and Alexis Deyarmin.
“First off, they’re great people,” SRU women’s basketball head coach Bobby McGraw said. “They’re great students, great people, fun to be around, that all trumps any knowledge about the game of basketball, but they also have a good feel for the game and they’ve already played for us, that’s the best part about having players who’ve been here done that be on the staff.”
In Deyarmin’s freshman year in 2016-17, she appeared in 11 games as a true freshman, averaging .3 points per game and .5 rebounds, while making Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Scholar-Athlete. Despite then only being a sophomore entering the 2017-18 season, Deyarmin decided to make the early move to student-assistant coach.
“When I came to SRU I wanted a place where I didn’t regret anything,” Deyarmin said. “I wanted to have that college experience and everything. I love basketball, but I knew it was time to kinda hang up my shoes and try something a little different and that’s when I decided to switch over to student-assistant and I love it. It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
In high school at Grove City High School, Deyarmin earned all-region honors twice and was named MVP of her senior all-star game. During practice, Deyarmin and Pietropola help with many operations to help things run smoothly such as running the clock and making sure things are set up for the evening. On game day, Deyarmin is in charge of keeping track of the fouls and timeouts in the game because those end up being very important at the end of games.
“(Deyarmin) takes on more of an administrative role day to day,” McGraw said. “Come game day, Lex has a very important job in the game of college basketball. Lex keeps track of all the fouls for our team and the other team and all the timeouts. If people don’t think that’s a big deal then they didn’t watch our game last Saturday against Wayne State when we were down eight with 2:55 and the way we foul at the end of the game, the timeouts we have left, that’s crucial. It’s not a job you can mess up come game day.”
For Pietropola on game day, she is in charge of the play cards. Coach McGraw explained they have two coaches holding cards and one of them is a ‘dummy card’ and the other is a ‘hot card’ and the hot card is the play they are actually running. They are always changing who has the hot card and McGraw says that teams have yet to figure out who has that card and when.
Over Pietropola’s career with The Rock, she played in a total of 84 games from seasons 2015-18. She ended her career ranked 12th in program history in defensive rebounds with 291, 13th in three-pointers made with 84, and 16th in blocks with 37.
Transitioning from player to coach does allow one to see things that they normally wouldn’t see as a player. When you are running around on the court, there isn’t time to stop and make sure everyone else is doing their job, but that changes when you are looking at things from the sidelines as a coach.
“When you are a player you just see your position more or less,” Deyarmin said. “Once you transition out of the player role and more into coaching it’s you having to look at what’s best for everybody and you really have to see the whole floor instead of moment by moment and you have to view ahead.”
Coaching is something Deyarmin is looking to get into following her college career no matter what the age bracket she said, because basketball is a sport that she loves and would like to continue for the rest of her life. The road to going from player to coach can be a rocky one for some more than others, coach McGraw explained, because one moment you are a student of the game, then all of a sudden you are a teacher.
“It’s something I can’t speak of from personal experience because I went from player, to marine, to police officer, to coach,” McGraw said. “I know it’s not an easy transition because you wake up one day and you’re a pier, you’re a teammate, you’re a player, and then you wake up the next day and all a sudden you’re at staff meetings and getting text messages as a staff member. So it’s not an easy transition and it’s not for everybody because there is a lot of tedious stuff to coaching that is not glamorous such as carrying Gatorade to busses and all that good stuff and I do that because I wouldn’t ask anybody to do something I wouldn’t do, but that’s all part of coaching.”