UMass’ exhibition with Assumption leads to a family reunion

Assistant coach Lynne-Ann Kokoski reunites with cousin Amanda Mieczkowski

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Chris Tucci / UMass Athletics

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

Lynne-Ann Kokoski remembers when Amanda Mieczkowski would come watch her games in a baby carrier. Before Kokoski became an assistant coach for the Massachusetts women’s basketball team, she was scoring 2,000 points at Smith Academy in Hatfield, Mass. Then it was off to Bryant University to play college ball.

Even before that, she was just Mieczkowski’s cousin. And still is.

As UMass showcased its first look at the 2022-23 season on Sunday, Mieczkowski was back in her hometown playing for Assumption, starting at the point guard position, running plays against her cousin’s team’s defense.

Basketball has always been a large part of their shared family’s life. Mieczkowski has fond memories of seeing the women’s college level played out through Kokoski’s time as a player, then eventually coaching at William & Mary, Providence and Bryant.

When Mieczkowski started her college search, Kokoski sat both Amanda and her mother Paula, also known as Lynne-Ann’s aunt, down. To answer questions and make it clear that whatever advice, support, guidance or perspectives they needed, she was there to help.

Mieczkowski played four years at Northampton High School and graduated in 2020, the first class of the pandemic graduates. With uncertainty regarding her freshman year season, the two spent the entire summer training together, finding just about any outdoor court they could.

Mainly skill work, shooting drills and conditioning despite the boiling temperatures of the summer. Just the two of them, the beating sun, pavement, and a basketball. What Mieczkowski said built a ton of character.

“It was no different than what I do with our girls here at UMass,” Kokoski said. “We kind of took on a new relationship, we weren’t related then, it was more, ‘hey I’m going to help you be great.’”

Mieczkowski bought in, embracing the complete grind day in and day out.

“[Kokoski] is definitely the hardest coach I’ve ever had in my life,” Mieczkowski said with a smile. “I think that is how it should be, when you’re family you are that much harder on each other and I understand she always wanted the best for me … I couldn’t be more thankful for how she pushed me and got me ready [for college basketball].”

With a shift to indoor training following different COVID-19 protocols, Mieczkowski switched her outdoor family workouts to inside, on campus at UMass. On days when Kokoski wasn’t in the office, Mieczkowski would still come into workout. “She is going to love the game, she is going to work hard, that is just in our family.”

On Sunday, as the offensive coordinator for the Minutewomen, Kokoski was hyper focused on UMass, but as Mieczkowski played, she recognized the growth. Following the win for UMass, Kokoski applauded her cousin’s confidence and ability to push the ball.

“She has always been super hard on me; she was the one that prepared me for [college]” Mieczkowski said. “Getting me to the next level, switching the speed of the game.”

The Minutewomen offense put up 77 points on the day, with Sam Breen having 29 and Sydney Taylor close behind with 21. Mieczkowski had 10 points in the loss, playing 26 minutes and snatching six rebounds

“I thought I was going to be nervous because everyone is coming to watch, [I’m] from Hadley, and I kind of thought I had to put on this big show,” Mieczkowski said. “Driving into Hadley, getting here where I worked out all summer, it was comforting, and I was happy to be here. The anxiety went away.”

“Having Lynne-Ann there, it’s just cool to have it come all together,” Mieczkowski said.

Lulu Kesin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Lulukesin.