DES MOINES, IOWA– Emerson's Nicki Gross is making history as the National Basketball Association Development League’s lone female coach at the moment.
The 26-year-old assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies’ D-League affiliate Iowa Energy has been as far as California for her career.
Having graduated from Seton Hall and completed her master's at Monmouth, Gross is a Jersey girl through and through.
“I get made fun of for my accent from time to time,” the 2007 Academy of the Holy Angels graduate told Daily Voice. “For the way I pronounce certain words.”
And don’t get her started on the Tri-State’s top-notch cuisine.
“I always tell people they haven’t had a good bagel unless they’ve had one in New Jersey or New York,” Gross said.
Gross got a small taste of home when the Energy hit the road to face the Westchester Knicks.
“I had bagels every morning and pizza every night,” she said. “I got my fix in.”
Aside from longings for a taste of home, Gross' transition to Iowa – with a pitstop in Bakersfield as an intern and then assistant video coordinator for the Jam – has been easy.
“It hasn’t been all that bad [though] it’s a lot colder,” she said. “I’ve been enjoying hopping from place to place. It’s cool seeing different parts of the country and meeting different people."
Though she never played the sport, basketball had a special place in Gross’s heart.
She is not the D-League’s first female coach – that honor belongs to Stephanie Ready – but gender has never been an issue for Gross.
“I’ve been on [coaching] staffs that are very accepting because we have the same goals,” said Gross, who also assists with player development and scouting. “It’s been great so far.”
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