WILLIAMSTOWN — In a little less than a month, the Williams College women's basketball team will hit the court for their first practice. By then, coach Pat Manning is hoping to have her staff rebooted.
That's because longtime assistant Meredith Mesaris and assistant Kerrie Kozakowski have both moved on to bigger and better jobs.
Mesaris, who was on the Williams bench from 2016-2021, has been named an assistant coach at Division I Dartmouth. She'll be working for new head coach Adrienne Shibles, who knows Mesaris' work from the time the new Dartmouth coach spent at NESCAC rival Bowdoin.
"Meredith has been with me for five years and she did a fantastic job. She has a chance to work with Adrienne Shibles, who was the coach at Bowdoin for years. She's put together an awesome staff," Manning said. "I think Meredith has always wanted to try D-I, especially the Ivies, so she has this opportunity. It's an incredible opportunity for her."
Mesaris was a two-time WBCA All-American player at Scranton, and was an assistant coach at Hendrix College in Arkansas before coming to Williams.
Kozakowski, who worked for Manning since 2019, has taken a different direction. Kozakowski was named the head coach at Perkiomen School, a Grade 6-12 prep school in Pennsburg, Pa., a school about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia. She will coach and teach history.
"They wanted someone with college coaching experience because they are trying to get their girls program on track with the boys. I guess the boys program is nationally ranked and do quite a bit of traveling," Manning said. "It's a great opportunity for her as well.
"They both made the right choice. They were phenomenal assistants and since we didn't play last year, our last memory with them is the win in Ithaca [in 2019] when we advanced to the Sweet 16" of the NCAA Division III women's tournament.
Kozakowski played at Division III Ramapo College, and coached for three years at Widener before coming to Williamstown.
Now that a hiring freeze at Williams has been lifted, the jobs have been posted.
Manning said that her most recent staff was ideal in the sense that Mesaris worked with the frontcourt players and Kozakowski could work with backcourt players. Ideally, that will be the case again. Manning said that she is as interested in getting two good assistants as two different ones.
"I think ideally, we like the mix of one as a post coach and one as a guard coach. I'm not opposed to having both in the same position," she said, "because I look at what I want to do with my assistant coaches is to train them. I think its really important to be able to do both. We'll see what the applicant pool is like. Ideally, it would be great to have a post coach and a guard coach."
Another former Williams assistant, Samantha Crough, has just returned to New England. Crough, who spent two years at Williams before going to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for four seasons, has been named the new head coach at Division III Regis.
Manning laughed when she was asked how quickly Crough's team will get from Weston to Williamstown.
"If they're open, maybe a tournament next year," she said. "She'll do a good job there.
"Her growth was phenomenal over the last few years, and I'm really excited for her to take the next step and become a head coach."