ALBION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — For Emily Hegedus, it’s nice to be wanted.
After graduating from Clarion University and snagging a job as a math teacher at Northwestern High School, the Karns City graduate found her basketball coaching skills were in a high demand.
That tracks. Her father, Mike, has been a longtime AAU coach, as well as an assistant girls hoop coach at Karns City.
As a player at Karns City, the 5-foot-9 Hegedus left the Gremlins as the career leader in points with 1,735. As a senior, the guard averaged 25.7 points, 12.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
The going was a little tougher for Hegedus with the Golden Eagles. It was a tumultuous time with the renovation of Tippin Gymnasium, the COVID pandemic and a sharp cut in playing time in her later seasons.
But the experience taught her a great deal about herself, which has allowed her to relate to the players she now coaches — both at Edinboro University and at Northwestern High School.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Hegedus said. “It really just shows that you may think you have a clear path set in you head, but a detour can happen and the destination is even better than you thought it would be.”
She had no designs on coaching at two places at the same time. That’s just how things fell.
Hegedus started out as a seventh- and eighth-grade basketball coach in the Northwestern School District after turning down an opportunity to coach junior high basketball at nearby General McLane.
During the summer, Hegedus was working at a golf course in Edinboro where Edinboro University women’s basketball coach Callie Wheeler was a regular.
Wheeler was well aware of who Hegedus was and the skills she had from squaring off against Clarion in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference twice a year. The two struck up a friendship.
And then, a working relationship.
“Callie reached out and said, ‘Well, I actually need an assistant. I would love for you to be my assistant,’” Hegedus said. “I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, yeah.’
Meanwhile, Erie McDowell had shown interest and offered Hegedus an assistant coaching job. So, too, had Northwestern head girls basketball coach Julia Shipton.
Both Hegedus and Shipton are math teachers in the high school and they struck up an instant friendship.
With so many offers, Hegedus’ head was spinning like a basketball on the tip of a finger.
“She reached out to me and said, ‘I want you to be my assistant,’” Hegedus said. “‘I want you to be the JV coach.’ She thought that teaching here, I could eventually be a huge part of the program and I could connect with the girls being their teacher and their coach. I was like, ‘OK. I have to think about it.’ I had so many people pulling me from different directions, but I decided that what was best for me was to take the Edinboro position because I just think it was an incredible opportunity that I just could not pass up.”
As it turns out, Hegedus had a way to do both.
The Edinboro job is just part time. She is mostly responsible for recruiting and scouting, which during the season can be done virtually.
“I’m helping Callie with those things,” Hegedus said. “I’m able to come to some practices here and there throughout the week, and I’m going to try to get to as many games as I can and just be a ball of energy to pump up the girls.”
It’s rare that someone as young as Hegedus — she’s just 23 — and a recent college graduate would have so many opportunities and land two assistant coaching gigs at once.
Hegedus said the only way she could have pulled this off is with the cooperation of both Wheeler and Shipton.
“Both coaches are such amazing people,” Hegedus said. “(Shipton) is actually one of my best friends right now. She would literally do anything for me. And Callie, she’s just unbelievable. I could go on and on about how amazing she is as a person and as a coach. I’ve never been a part of such an amazing program. All the girls are so kind. They’re so positive. They’re so energetic and they are team players. They just encourage one another so well. It’s an incredible environment to be in.”
Hegedus is also very much at home at Northwestern where she has a bond with Shipton and a growing one with her students/players.
Shipton said it didn’t take long for her and Hegedus to hit it off.
“As we got to know each other, our personalities are literally almost identical,” Shipton said. “Once we got to know each other and we found out how much we are alike and how much our coaching styles and personalities were compatible, it was a no-brainer.”
Shipton, who has been teaching at Northwestern for seven years and has been the girls basketball coach since 2019, was a standout at General McLane during her playing days in high school, helping lead the Lancers to back-to-back District 10 championships.
Hegedus knows a thing or two about winning district crowns. Karns City won three D9 titles with Hegedus playing point guard.
Shipton, formerly Myers when she played in high school and then at college at Penn State Behrend, said she and Hegedus have blended together seamlessly.
“She’s kind of been putting in some defenses for us, and being able to give a guard perspective,” Shipton said. “I was a post player, so I’m able to give them a post’s perspective. It’s nice that they can kind of lean on her from a guard perspective.”
Shipton said she is hoping she and Hegedus can stick together for many seasons to come.
“I’m hoping she does,” Shipton said. “We have become very good friends. Having her as not only a colleague but now as an assistant coach, I hope she is going to be here for the long haul. She’s awesome all around.”
Hegedus has had some very good coaching mentors in her life.
None better than her father, Mike.
“My biggest inspiration is my dad,” Hegedus said. “He’s hands down to this day the best coach I’ve ever been around. He has taught me everything I know and has just been so inspirational. He always knows what to say at the right time. My coaching style is definitely from him.”
Since Hegedus was little, her desire was to teach and coach basketball.
Now that she is doing it — and coaching at not one, but two places — she can’t help but smile.
“I talk about these opportunities almost every day and about just how grateful I am and how amazing it is to have this kind of chance at such a young age,” Hegedus said. “It’s good that people are excited about what I have to offer and value my coaching abilities so much they want me to be a part of their program. I can tell you I have fallen even more in love with the game having these new experiences. It’s one type of love being a player and another type of love being able to develop new players and inspire them as much as I can.”