ND Women’s Basketball
‘I did not think I would get this opportunity’: Newly-named assistant coach Mabrey returns to program with gratitude, excitement
Jack Concannon | Thursday, September 5, 2019
Irish women’s head coach Muffet McGraw announced Aug. 26 that former Irish guard Michaela Mabrey is returning to the program as an assistant coach.
After her graduation in 2016, Mabrey was unsure what she wanted to do with her playing career. She credits McGraw for putting her on the path towards coaching.
“When I was done playing I did not know what I wanted to do,” Mabrey said. “I was going to go play overseas for a little bit then kind of changed my mind. Coach McGraw was the one who told me, ‘You would be a really great coach.’ I started at Miami doing player development, and that’s where I knew that I wanted to coach.”
After working at Miami, Mabrey moved onto Miami of Ohio as an assistant coach, gaining critical in-game experience on the bench. She then moved onto Louisiana State University as the director of recruiting. With three years in three different roles, her range of experience made her a candidate for a job at a strong program like Notre Dame.
McGraw said Mabrey’s drive as a competitor is what drew her to see Mabrey as an assistant coach.
“She was a competitor but she was always encouraging, she was a great leader,” McGraw said. “She was the one telling everybody in the huddle, ‘We are going to be OK, don’t worry about coach yelling at you.’ She was a leader in the locker room and had a great IQ. She has a really good head for the game.”
In addition to her competitiveness and basketball knowledge, McGraw said she believes Mabrey’s ability to relate to her players will be an asset.
“It is nice to have someone that recruits can relate to,” McGraw said. “Somebody that they have just seen play. They know [her sister] Marina [Mabrey] and they know Michaela because of that. I think she has the energy of somebody that has played in this system exactly the way we’re playing now. She’s been to three Final Fours so she understands the stress, she understands the academic pressure. She can really relate to the players.”
In addition to relationships with the players, Mabrey has close ties to current coaching staff. Mabrey played under McGraw and both current associate head coaches Carol Owens and Beth Cunningham. Mabrey emphasized that while the relationship will be different, the experience they have together can only help.
“It’s definitely different now,” Mabrey said. “They have so much experience. When I was a player I could see that, but in this type of role you really see it. I’m just excited to learn from them. They all have been at different places, besides Coach McGraw of course. I’m excited to learn from them.”
After moving three times and working in athletic offices all over the country, Mabrey emphasized she is eager to return to Notre Dame and had an intense reaction to being offered the position.
“I cried, I was super excited,” Mabrey said. “I did not think I would get this opportunity this quickly, this young. It was such a surreal moment for me. Being here, and then having to step away but still feeling like I was here because Marina was here. I missed it. It was an incredible moment.”
Now that she is back on campus, Mabrey said her love for Notre Dame has not faded, and she is ready to get to work.
“I love this place,” Mabrey said. “I had the best four years here, I have so many good memories and am still friends with almost all of my teammates. It was an incredible four years that I loved. It’s a place that I truly love. I love Coach McGraw, she is incredible in so many different ways. I am just so excited to be back.”