Little-Kaack era under way at BG

By Michael Boytim

Though she’s only 13 years removed from playing high school girls basketball herself, Kristi (Little) Kaack has already built a solid reputation as a coach at the collegiate level.

Friday she accepted the opportunity to return to the high school game when she became the next head coach for the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic girls basketball team.

Kaack, an all-state girls basketball player at Altoona and the Altoona Mirror’s Player of the Year in 2005, compiled a 99-84 record over seven years leading the Mount Aloysius women’s team.

“When I came back to the area, I wanted to get involved with high school basketball, but I wanted to be a head coach,” Kaack said. “The first job that opened was Mount Aloysius, but I jumped on the BG job when it opened, because I want to build a program from the ground up.”

Kaack is taking over for Mark Moschella, who won 603 games and four state championships over 26 years.

“I’m trying to roll off of what he was doing,” Kaack said. “I want to be energetic and dive into the elementary and youth programs to get them excited about basketball and have that love stick with them the whole way through.”

The Lady Marauders went 11-12 and failed to make the PIAA playoffs for the first time in more than a decade last season. Bishop Guilfoyle returned no lettermen but led Penns Manor, which made it all the way to the state semifinals, in the fourth quarter during the District 6 Class 2A playoffs with the help of young talent like Teresa Haigh and Sophia Warner.

“Just from watching them the past few years through summer and even the regular season, it’s always stood out that they play so hard,” Kaack said. “That’s the hard part, teaching them to play hard, and BG teams already seem to have that. Success will come. I don’t think it will be immediate, but I don’t think it will be that long.”

Kaack had her interview on Wednesday, she was called Thursday night and offered the job and just accepted early Friday.

“I am thrilled to have Kristi as our girls basketball coach,” Bishop Guilfoyle athletic director Mike Cacciotti said. “She brings an impressive resume as a player and coach. Her knowledge of the game along with her commitment to the student-athlete are equally impressive.”

Kaack said she enjoyed her time at Mount Aloysius but was interested in getting a chance to make an impact earlier in her players’ development.

“I enjoy working with kids of all ages,” Kaack said. “I like working with people to develop skills, and I’m excited to work with kids from elementary to junior high up to the varsity level. That’s always been a goal for me.”

Kaack, who together with her husband Adam has two boys, Brayden (5) and Carter (3), has yet to decide on a coaching staff. She plans on meeting with the team next week before she forms her staff.

Kaack has continued to play basketball locally after completing a stellar career at Duquesne where she scored 1,266 career points and earned induction into the Duquesne Hall of Fame. While in college, she played for Penn State graduate Suzie McConnell-Serio.

“Playing under Suzie McConnell-Serio was one of the greatest opportunities I’ve had,” Kaack said. “Her passion for the game was so evident, and the biggest thing she showed me is that loving the game is contagious.”

That passion is something she’s hoping to pass down to her players. She knows she’ll already have a passionate fan base.

“Even when I played at Altoona, I remember that atmosphere in their gym and the way the community supports them,” Kaack said. “It’s clear they have all the support in the community, and I’m excited to step into that.”