Kerry Connolly (middle) with the Sto-Rox Girls Basketball Team.
Gazette 2.0 sat down with Kerry Connolly, who was recently named head girls basketball coach for the Sto-Rox Vikings. Connolly is a 2009 Sto-Rox graduate and former Lady Viking who played softball and basketball there. Additionally, she competed while a student at Edinboro University. In 2012 she was inducted into the Sto-Rox Sports Hall of Fame for her accomplishments.
G2.0: When did you realize you were a good athlete?
Connolly: I realized that I was a good athlete when I was about 10 years old and I fell in love with playing softball. I was chosen to play on various All-Star teams and learning the game came very easy to me. In 5th grade, I began playing basketball and I truly enjoyed the new challenge of the sport. I was very encouraged by my coaches which helped to ensue confidence in my game and allowed me to believe in myself.
G2.0: What is your greatest attribute as a player?
Connolly: My selflessness as a player is probably one of my greatest attributions. I always loved to see others succeed. It was always a very rewarding feeling to put others in a position to score.
G2.0: What’s the most difficult part of your training regimen?
Connolly: Currently, the most difficult part of my training regimen is more than likely running the bleachers because that is when I receive the most complaints from my players.
G2.0: What did you enjoy most about your playing days?
Connolly: What I enjoyed most about my playing days is the freeing feeling you get when you’re lost in the motion of the game. It’s a wonderful mental escape.
G2.0: How does it feel to be able to be head coach at your alma mater?
Connolly: This is the only school I would ever coach at. It feels as though I am paying my dues by coming full circle back to Sto-Rox.
G2.0: Do you feel your past experience as a successful athlete can influence your players to accomplish the same?
Connolly: I believe that young athletes are incredibly influenced by their coaches and mentors; student-athletes will follow your lead and mimic the examples you set for them. By having a coach who has been successful in two separate sports at Sto-Rox will create a winning mindset, which I plan to instill in all of my players.
G2.0: Who were some of your mentors that helped you reach success?
Connolly: I’ve had plenty of mentors in my life who have all played an intricate part in my success. My faith in God has helped me tremendously. I was blessed with wonderful parents who raised me well, along with my sisters who played a great role in that also. Carrie and Bill Palermo coached me throughout most of my life, and I have to credit them for a lot of my mental toughness and discipline.
G2.0: What do you see that excites you about your team this season?
Connolly: The most exciting aspect of this season is the uncertainty. My players may not even see the court until 2021. With that being said, we must become creative and innovative in workouts, conditioning and playing. We will enter a brand new section for the 2020-2021 season, which will test us in many ways.
G2.0: Tell us about your favorite moment as an athlete.
Connolly: My favorite moments as an athlete embody more than just winning championships in high school and at the collegiate level. The sisterhood and bonds created through athletics measures beyond any athletic success. When my father passed away in 2010, my entire Edinboro basketball team traveled down to McKees Rocks to be there for me during the funeral. That means more to me than ever winning another contest. Basketball is more than just a game.
—Sports writer, Ken Hohman