PHILADELPHIA - Penn women's basketball assistant coach Bernadette Laukaitis is entering her first season with the program. Here's a chance to get to know the former Cabrini College head coach and her thoughts on her first few months on the Penn campus.
What is your Favorite aspect of Penn?
Coach Laukaitis: My favorite aspect of Penn would definitely be the tradition and community feel that you get when you walk on campus. I knew about the great tradition of Quaker basketball and historic Franklin Field, but we truly have a one-of-a-kind campus that is full of character. Penn is not only known for its prestigious academics, but it is also known for its beautiful urban campus surrounded by a city full of life and excitement.
When did you know you wanted to coach basketball?
Coach Laukaitis: When I was younger, I always knew that I wanted to teach and I always tried to be a student of the game. I wanted to learn more. As I got older, I found myself almost coaching while on the court with my teammates as well as when I was on the bench. I had the most unbelievable coaches throughout the years that were so supportive of my dreams of being a coach and Coach McLaughlin was definitely one of them. Coaching truly became a passion of mine and I am very luck to have the opportunity to take my coaching career to the next level here at Penn.
What do you love most about coaching?
Coach Laukaitis: The thing I love most about coaching is the relationships that you develop with the players. There is nothing better than teaching the game of basketball and helping players develop not just on the court but off the court as well. The thrill of coaching on the sideline and preparing the team to victory is truly the best feeling in the world!!!
What is your favorite thing aboutPhiladelphia?
Coach Laukaitis: Downtown Philadelphia is so amazing and there is just so much to do. You can always find some great shops, wonderful cuisine and great night life.
Who makes the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia?
Coach Laukaitis: This is such a hard question. I would have to say Pat’s Steaks. Although, Coach Cassidy and I always split a Pat’s and Geno’s steak and they are both so good that you can’t go wrong with either.
What are some of the things that you enjoy outside of basketball?
Coach Laukaitis: I am a very big family person and love spending time with my husband, Joe, and 18-month-old son, Joey. He is at such an awesome age right now! I am very lucky to have a family that supports me and my passion for the game. I don’t know what I would do without them.
What is your most memorable moment as a collegiate athlete?
Coach Laukaitis: Being ranked #1 in the nation my sophomore year. We were so excited and had an awesome run in the tournament. I will never forget having the words “Holy Famlily Ranked #1 in the Nation” written on the PECO building in downtown Philadelphia. That was so amazing.
As a coach and player you've seen countless basketball arenas. Where does The Palestra rank?
Coach Laukaitis: Definitely ranked #1. It's the PALESTRA - THE CATHEDRAL OF BASKETBALL!!!!! I had the opportunity to coach at Madison Square Garden last year and it was amazing, but the Palestra is a place that I have always dreamed of coaching, and since I was born and raised in Philadelphia...how can it get any better than that?
What are your thoughts on Head Coach Mike McLaughlin?
Coach Laukaitis: If I could describe Coach McLaughlin in one word that would be MENTOR. He has been such an inspiration to me and I am truly blessed for having the opportunity to not only coach with him but to also play for him. We have shared so many great times both on and off the court that I will never forget. He gets the best out of everyone that he coaches and not only teaches the game of basketball, but also the game of life. I am really looking forward to building a foundation of success here at Penn.
What are you most looking forward to once the season begins?
Coach Laukaitis: I am really looking forward to coaching in the Palestra. It is the most unbelieveable place to play a game. It has so much history and character. I can’t wait until the first time I get to step on the court and just feel the excitement run thru me, and know that I have been where many legendary people have been before. What a surreal moment that will be.