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UConn's Kelly (Schumacher) Raimon took a winding path to a WNBA coaching job with the Liberty

Alexa Philippou, The Hartford Courant on

Published in Basketball

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Kelly Raimon doesn't consider herself a tech-savvy person, but when her first job in the WNBA required her to master scouting software, there she was, teaching herself through YouTube videos, editing and splicing together scouting reports, even filling in once for the team's video coordinator.

Learning on the fly as she did in that position -- development coach and advanced scout with the Chicago Sky -- became crucial for Raimon (nee Schumacher), a national champion at UConn who played eight seasons in the WNBA, as she made her way back into basketball following a stint as a professional beach volleyball player. And though it seems her career took a winding path, it all pointed toward her most recent gig: assistant coach for one of the WNBA's most exciting franchises, the New York Liberty.

It's also what makes her future in the league so bright.

"Everybody raves about her," said Geno Auriemma, Raimon's coach at UConn from 1997-2001. "Everyone is really impressed with her basketball savvy and her work ethic, and she's so excited about this opportunity in New York."

Back during her college years, it wasn't obvious to either Auriemma or Raimon that she'd end up coaching. A communications major at UConn, Raimon knew she loved to analyze the game but saw that potentially leading to broadcasting more than anything else.

The player UConn fans might remember as "Schuey" or "Schu" wound up as the Indiana Fever's first-round pick in the 2001 WNBA draft, a year after she famously blocked nine shots against Tennessee in the national championship game to propel the Huskies to their second title. She may not have been a superstar in Storrs but nonetheless had been groomed by the 'Husky Way,' which emphasizes attention to detail and hard work.

 

With that foundation in tow, Raimon had a lengthy professional basketball career as the sort of player who, as she describes it, "thought the game" and took "X's and O's seriously." That culminated in being part of back-to-back WNBA titles, one with the Phoenix Mercury and the next with the Detroit Shock, in 2007-2008.

For a few years afterwards, basketball took a backseat to beach volleyball, a sport she'd always loved. Raimon managed to make her way onto the AVP Tour and represented Team USA in multiple competitions, while on the side trying out commentating volleyball and basketball games at the University of Miami.

"As I was playing beach volleyball, it's a two-person sport, and a lot of times I was the older player who thought more strategically, so I was the one coming up with the game plans because you basically coach yourself," Raimon said. "And so that's kind of when I started realizing, 'Wow, I'm kind of good at this and it's something that I enjoy.'"

She added, "I loved a lot of aspects of broadcasting, as far as analyzing the game and seeing what's happening and just really the overall strategy behind it. But what I didn't like is that you're not really a part of the team itself, and so I think that's when I started realizing that coaching might be something more fit for me."

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