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Repella’s new gig

Big Red, WVU grad now working for Michigan women’s hoop program

September 18, 2012
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor ( , The Herald-Star

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The old saying that blood is thicker than water has hit the Repella family.

Don't be surprised if you see Gary Repella, an Ohio State graduate and former Buckeyes basketball player, walking around in a Maize and Blue hoodie.

You see, Liz Repella, a 2011 West Virginia graduate and daughter of Gary and Maddelena, has been on the job for two weeks as an administrative assistant for the Michigan women's basketball program.

Article Photos

NEW OFFICE — Liz Repella, a WVU?and Steubenville Big?Red grad, has been named an administrative assistant for the University of Michigan women’s basketball program.
-- Associated Press

"It's been a very easy transition with the colors," she joked about switching from Mountaineers colors to that of the Wolverines.

Everyone is new with the Michigan program after head coach Kim Barnes Arico was hired in April after 10 years as the head coach at St. Johns, which means she watched Repella up close and personal from the opposing bench.

In addition, Chester Nichols was hired as an assistant coach after two years at Kansas, which preceeded one year at the University of Central Florida and, before that, two years under Mike Carey at WVU. Those two years were Repella's freshman and sophomore seasons with the program.

"If I didn't know coach Nichols, it would have been a lot harder to get this position," Repella said matter-of-factly. "Networking and making relationships is huge in this business."

The last time Barnes Arico saw Repella in action, the 2007 Steubenville Big Red graduate scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 40 minutes of action in a 69-49 WVU win at home.

"She told me, 'Everybody I ask about you told me how nice of a person you are, and on the court you were the nastiest person there. I never knew anybody who liked to play against you,'" Repella said. "Yes, we're very familiar with each other. She told me, 'If you work as hard as you do on the court, I'm not worried about how well you will do in the profession.'

"I am a totally different person on the court than off the court. It also shows that your work ethic can transfer from basketball into the work place."

After completing her playing career for the Mountaineers, Repella just finished a season of professional basketball for Federacion Espanola de Baloncesto in Ferrol, Spain. She earned All-Spanish LF2 Honorable Mention and All-Bosmans Team Spanish LF2 honors during her time overseas.

"I was really unsure of what I wanted to do," said Repella, who graduated summa cum laude from WVU with a bachelor of science degree in exercise physiology, along with minors in exercise and sport psychology and business management. "I wasn't sure if I wanted to go back overseas or get into coaching.

"I was very homesick when I first went to Spain. But, as time went on, it got easier.

"When this opportunity came about, I could not turn it down. This was the only place I looked at.

"The University of Michigan is a great university both academically and athletically. It's one of the top schools in the nation. It's a great place to start.

"Even though I'm only two weeks in, I love what I am doing."

Repella, who led the Mountaineers in 12 statistical categories, started 102 straight games from the beginning of her sophomore year and played 1,173, 1,226 and 1,173 minutes, respectively, averaging just under 35 minutes a game. She averaged 6.5 rebounds an outing, totaled 181 steals and 73 blocks.

She appeared in 32 of WVU's 33 games as a freshman, fourth-most by a newcomer in school history and averaged 10.8 minutes per game.

Repella earned All-Big East first-team honors for the second consecutive season, in addition to being named to the Capital One Academic All-America first team in back-to-back seasons.

She was a part of 96 victories as a Mountaineer and only 38 losses, amassing the most victories in a four-year career in program history. She has played in the most games of any Mountaineer in program history with 134, recording 3,917 minutes played, the fourth-most in program history.

"My job is kind of like a jack of all trades," she said. "I am doing a little bit of everything except on-court coaching and I cannot go out and recruit.

"I do a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff - travel and accommodations, marketing, just basically anything the head coach finds for me. It could be anything.

"She knows I want to coach in the future and she includes me in all the coach's meetings. It's neat to see this side of it now.

"I was on the playing side for four years at WVU and I always appreciated what the coaches did and the support staff did for us, but I truly didn't realize how much they worked.

"It's a lot of hours and I knew going in it was going to be a lot of hours. I was prepared for this. Plus, coach Arico is very similar to coach Carey. She is passionate and intense. And, I'm good with that, too.

"I know what coaches expect."

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