Home » Here’s how new assistant coach Jacki Gemelos went from Mystics player to Liberty staff

Here’s how new assistant coach Jacki Gemelos went from Mystics player to Liberty staff

Jacki Gemelos wasn’t retired for a full three hours before she got the message.

The new assistant coach on the Liberty’s staff announced her retirement as a Washington Mystic on March 19. Not long after she made it public on Instagram, head coach Walt Hopkins was there, waiting to push her into the Liberty’s budding program.

“Coach Walt had DMed me and asked me what I was going to do after, you know, post career,” Gemelos said Wednesday during her first appearance since the team announced it hired her on Monday. “I told him, ‘you know I don’t know what’s going on yet, I literally just made the announcement like three hours ago’ and he was like ‘coaching with me question mark.’

“And my heart just dropped and I was just like, ‘oh my gosh like that would be unreal.’”

Before Gemelos retired, she always figured her later basketball career would end up on the coaching side. She never thought she’d be able to do it at the professional level, though.

Jacki Gemelos played for the Mystics during the 2020 season.

As the sort of “Mayor of the Wubble,” because she was the most well acquainted player in last year’s WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Fla., she made her rounds and got to know the Liberty’s staff. In fact, if she hadn’t retired and found herself in free agency this season, she would have liked to play for Hopkins and fellow assistant Coaches Shelley Patterson and Dustin Gray.

“I just loved the culture that they were building within New York,” Gemelos said. “I thought they were just, you know, phenomenal people and I enjoyed talking to them. So I think that our relationship kind of hit it off in the bubble.”

Her landing in Brooklyn with the Liberty was almost serendipitous and she’s spent almost a full week officially as Coach Jacki — a title that solidified during her intake process, when the the team’s Director of Basketball Operations Ohemaa Nyanin insisted she be called thay. And that’s the tone she’s tried to set, not just as Jacki the former player, but as Coach Jacki.

Hopkins and GM Jonathan Kolb have touted her basketball IQ and general personality as traits to help guide not just the younger, less experienced players, but the ones who’ve been competing against Gemelos since 2015 when she first entered the W and in international competition as well.

“She personifies everything that we’re about,” Hopkins said Monday of tabbing Gemelos as another assistant on his staff. “The toughness, the grit and she’s a really unselfish, hardworking person and that’s kind of been the makeup of this organization and the direction we’re headed.”

Gemelos came in a little nervous, but not intimidated. After all, the players she’s helping for now are needing of someone with her intelligence. She said if she had to be tasked with being an assistant coach to the likes of WNBA legends Sue Bird or Diana Taurasi, it might be a different story. But aside from giving advice and teaching, she hopes to be a bridge between the players and the rest of the staff.

“Being able to relate to the girls and understand where they’re coming from and be able to give that feedback to the coaching staff,” Gemelos said. “I think it’s very important. It’s great to have a player perspective and just have someone to listen to that’s on staff that basically is still a player.

“That’s what I want to do. I want to be able to have a voice for the players within the staff.”

Source (Ny Daily news)

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