Tracey Stellato, Head Coach
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Tracey Stellato enters her eleventh season at the helm of the Panola Fillies basketball program. In ten seasons, the Fillies have posted 155 wins after winning only 1 during the 2001-02 campaign prior to Stellato's arrival in Carthage. The Fillies have sent 45 players on to 4-year universities on basketball scholarships, with 21 of those competing at the NCAA Division I level. Stellato has coached 2 NJCAA All-Americans, 10 NJCAA All-Region players, 17 Region 14 All-Conference selections, 17 Region 14 Academic All-Conference selections, 7 Buddy Lowery Outstanding Female Athlete Award winners; 5 NJCAA Academic All-Americans, and 2 NJCAA Distinguished Academic All-Americans. Last year's Panola Fillies saw four sophomores graduate from the program. Oditte Odisho committed to Duquense University in Pittsburgh, PA.; Chastity Taylor took her sharp-shooting skills to Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL and Jasamine Beard and Klarke Sims headed to Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, TX. Chastity Taylor picked up several post-season accolades including Region 14 All-Conference honors. She was also named to the Region 14 all-academic squad, earned NJCAA academic All-American honors, and then added the Buddy Lowery Award for most outstanding athlete at Panola College.
The Fillies qualified for the Region 14 tournament in March, falling in the first round to the 2012 NJCAA Division I national champion Trinity Valley. The 2011-12 squad was also named to the NJCAA "Team of the Year" list for their accomplishments in the classroom as well.
Stellato believes in a philosophy of hard work. "Developing a championship-caliber program takes a tremendous amount of work, not only by the coaching staff, but by the team itself. We must do things better than everyone else. We must work harder than everyone else because we are attempting to set a precedent in every area of our program - academics, athletics and community involvement." We hold to a similar philosophy as legendary coach Bob Knight, "the will to succeed is important, but what's even more important is the will to prepare." It is our goal here at Panola to prepare our athletes for competition, as well as life.
Stellato joined the Panola College family after four seasons at East Texas Baptist University. Stellato started her coaching career as an assistant for the Lady Tiger basketball program in 1997. During her three seasons as an assistant, Stellato helped lead the program to an impressive 75-16 record, including a school record 29 wins during the 1998-99 season. After three seasons as an assistant, Stellato was given an opportunity to direct the action as the head coach. She led the Lady Tigers to a 20-9 mark, with their third appearance in the NCCAA national championship game.
Prior to her coaching career, Stellato garnered several national accolades while competing for LeTourneau University, under Panola and NJCAA Hall of Fame coach Mary Ann Otwell. The LadyJackets captured the NCCAA National Championship, qualified for the NAIA national tournament in Jackson, TN for the second straight season, and took the conference championship and tournament championship of the Big State Conference. Stellato was named NCCAA Player of the Year, NCCAA Tournament MVP, NAIA All-American, as well as Big State Conference MVP. Prior to her stop at LeTourneau, Stellato played her first two seasons at the University of Texas-San Antonio.
Kayla Weaver, Assistant Coach
Kayla Weaver returns to the sidelines of Panola College, but this time as a member of the coaching staff. Kayla suited up for the Filly green and white from 2007 to 2009. She was an All-Region performer for the Fillies as well as an Academic All-Conference selection while at Panola. Weaver graduated in 2009 and signed with NCAA Division II Texas Woman's University. Weaver was one of the integral parts of a team that qualified for 2 straight LoneStar Conference tournaments. During her senior season, the Pioneers of Texas Woman's University captured the LoneStar Conference tournament championship and qualified for the NCAA Division II national tournament. Weaver was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. She is set to graduate in December 2011 with a degree in mathematics.
"I am really excited about having Kayla back in our program. She is a quality young lady that will be an outstanding role model for my team," commented Stellato. "Kayla has a unique perspective as a young assistant in that she played here and is very familar with our philosophy of how we want things done so her transition from the court to the sideline will be that much easier."