It’s hard not to credit head coach Mike McLaughlin and the many talented Penn women’s basketball players that have played in the Palestra as the drivers for the Quakers’ success on the hardcourt.
However, the Quaker fanbase is likely less familiar with assistant coaches Kelly Killion, Ashley Robinson, and Stephanie Carideo.
The assistants are often the engine behind practice. From running individual workouts to spearheading recruiting, they take care of much of what happens behind the scenes.
Killion is McLaughlin’s most experienced assistant coach, having joined Penn in 2010. During her first stint at Penn, she played an integral role in the development of Alyssa Baron; Baron went on to become the first freshman in Ivy League history to lead the conference in scoring and the second player in program history to garner Ivy League and Big 5 Rookie of the Year honors.
“She’s always had a high level of basketball maturity, ever since I coached her many years ago,” McLaughlin noted. “But now she’s just developed in a different role as a coach, looking at the game as an assistant coach, being able to benefit the program.”
The Philadelphia native and Holy Family University alumna left Penn in 2012 to take an assistant coaching position at Sacred Heart before leaving for William and Mary in 2013. She returned to McLaughlin’s coaching staff in 2019, where she helped develop center Eleah Parker, the eventual 2020 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.
“Player development is probably my favorite part of the game — being able to coach the post players is something that I love to do,” Killion said. “I’ve done it in the past and I’ll continue to love doing it while I’m an assistant coach here.”
Like Killion, Robinson rejoined Penn’s coaching staff in 2019; her first stint was during the 2017-2018 season. A Saint Joe's graduate, she left Penn’s coaching staff in 2018 to join Northeastern, leading the Paws to a regular-season record of 20-12 and a postseason trip to the WNIT.
"I was truly honored when coach McLaughlin asked me to come back in 2019,” Robinson said. “The history alone of this program speaks volumes about the culture of tradition and dedication that coaches and players have created."
During her playing career, Robinson served as a team captain for Saint Joe's from 2013-2015 and led the Hawks to back-to-back 2013 and 2014 NCAA Division I Tournament appearances. During that time, Robinson received the Roosevelt Hunter Community Service Award in 2015. Service has always been an important part of her life.
“Community service is very important to me, and that’s why I’ve prioritized spending my time volunteering in the Philly basketball community,” Robinson said.
The newest addition to McLaughlin’s coaching staff joined the Quakers in 2019. Carideo has coached at various organizations around the Philadelphia area, and she is married to Chris Carideo, the head coach of Widener University’s men’s basketball program.
Carideo began her coaching career at John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls' High School, but left in 2013 to become the head women’s basketball coach at Penn State Abington, where she earned NEAC Coach of the Year honors in 2015 and guided the Nittany Lions to an NCAA tournament berth.
In 2018, Carideo became an assistant men’s basketball coach at Jefferson University, her alma mater. There she became one of two active female coaches working with a men’s NCAA basketball program. After a year at Jefferson, she was hand-picked by McLaughlin to complete his coaching staff.
"She not only has a wealth of basketball experience and pedigree, but her energy and passion for the game is unmatched," coach McLaughlin said in 2019. "I'm impressed with the relationships she's been able to develop with her players at every level and know she will have a positive impact on our program as we continue to reach for new heights."