Staten Island, NY -- Long-time Wagner College head women’s basketball coach Gela Mikalauskas has announced her retirement, effective immediately, said Seahawk athletic director Walt Hameline.
A national search for her successor will begin immediately.
“Gela Miklauaskas stands for everything that is right about college athletics. She recruited tremendous young women and served as a true role model for them on and off the court,” said Hameline. “Her loyalty to Wagner College and our athletic department was unrivaled and we thank and salute Gela for her many years of service to the college and on the successes she enjoyed here. But most of all, for the many lives she touched and bettered, primarily the student-athletes who she recruited, coached and nurtured every day during their Seahawk careers.”
A Staten Island native and Moore Catholic HS graduate, Mikalauskas, a 1991 inductee into the Wagner Hall of Fame, won a school-record 216 games over her 18 seasons at the helm of the Seahawk program, a tenure that spanned two different time periods, 1979-1990, and 2005-2012.
Her teams were known for being comprised of quality student-athletes, as evidence by the fact that nearly 100 percent of her players earned their degrees in four years. Her passion for molding the entire student-athlete was in effect throughout her career as six of her current players earned a spot on the Dean’s List and the 2011-12 Seahawks carry a 3.2 team grade point average.
“After giving this careful consideration, I know in my heart that this is the right thing to do for the program and myself,” said Mikalauskas. “I have enjoyed my time at Wagner immensely and will always be grateful to President (Richard) Guarasci and Walt (Hameline) for giving me the opportunity to coach at Wagner again.
“It was a difficult decision at the end of a difficult season,” added Mikalauskas, who informed her players and coaching staff of her decision last night. “Our team played hard to the last minute of the season. I am proud of each young lady in our program. I know this season will make them stronger for the next. College basketball is more than a business. It is about the education and relationships with the student-athletes that I value most.
“It was an honor and privilege to be the head coach at Wagner College.”
During her first stint as head coach, from 1979-1990, she guided the Seahawks to five of their top-10 campaigns, including a school-record 24 victories in 1983-1984 as well as the program’s lone Northeast Conference (NEC) title in 1988-1989. She also served as an Assistant Athletic Director in 1980 and in 1981 was promoted to Associate Athletic Director and was honored in 1984 as the Metropolitan Coach of the Year in Division I. She received the same award in 1989 as well as being tabbed as Converse Coach of the Year in New York State and the NEC Coach of the Year.
Mikalauskas led Wagner to three 20-win plus seasons, to five Cosmopolitan Conference Tournament appearances and four NEC Tourney appearances. Taking the Seahawks to seven straight league tournament berths, capturing the 1985 Cosmopolitan Conference Tournament and the 1989 Northeast Conference (NEC) Tournament while amassing a174-134 record.
Under her direction also coached the single-season record holders for most points, scoring average, rebounds and steals, the latter record achieved by Maureen (Coughlin) Hannafin, the 1989 Northeast Conference Player of the Year and the third-leading scorer in school history, who served as an assistant coach under Mikalauskas the last seven years.
Mikalauskas won her 100th career game on January 20, 1986 at Seton Hall and has coached 12of the 22 members of the program's 1,000-point club, including current senior Kelly Clark who stands 19th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,117 career points. In 2005, Mikalauskas returned to Grymes Hill following a 15-year break focusing her attention on her family, children Christopher (now 22). Anna (now 18) and husband Greg.
In her second stint at Wagner, Mikalauskas won another 42 games, including 12 in 2010-11. The 12 wins amassed by the Seahawks last season, which included a 7-4 non-conference mark, were the most by a Wagner team in eight years, since the 2002-03 team went 15-13.
In 2009-2010, Mikalauskas led the Green & White back to the postseason for the first time since 2003-2004 while winning nine overall games and six NEC contests. Included was a win over eventual NEC Champion Saint Francis (PA) on the road and in the Spiro Sports Center against American, which would go on to win 22 games and play in the WNIT. She notched her 200th career coaching victory on January 28, 2010 against Quinnipiac. Her overall career record was 216-294.
Mikalauskas was inducted into the Wagner Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 and is also a member of the Kean University Hall of Fame and the Moore Catholic (HS) Hall of Fame.
A two-year point guard at Wagner before transferring to Kean, Mikalauskas led the Seahawks to the only undefeated season in school history (13-0) in 1973-1974. In 1974-1975, she averaged 20.1 points per game in helping lead the Seahawks to a 12-4 record.
At Kean she was a captain her junior and senior years, scored over 1,000 points (Kean and Wagner) and was twice named All-League while earning a physical education and health degree in 1977.