Suzie McConnell-Serio, women’s basketball coach, player, and Olympic athlete, is one of 14 highlighted Pittsburgh athletes as part of the Downtown Renown: Pittsburgh Sports Greats series showcasing stories as inspirational as they are amazing. Designed in collaboration with artist Gavin Benjamin, find all sports profiles windows currently on view in windows around the neighborhood.
Her family name has become synonymous with basketball – playing it, coaching it, and winning while doing both. Raised in the city’s Brookline neighborhood, Suzie McConnell had her first success with the game at Seton LaSalle High School. A volleyball, basketball, and softball player, she and her sister Kathy contributed to the school’s PIAA state championship in basketball in 1984.
After starring as a point guard at Seton LaSalle High School, she became an All-American at Penn State where she set NCAA career records for assists with 1,307, assists in a season (355 in 1987), and season assist average (11.8 in 1987). After college she represented the United States at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, bringing home a gold medal. She competed for the U.S. again in Barcelona, earning bronze in 1992.
McConnell-Serio began her coaching career at Oakland Catholic High School in 1991. In her 12 seasons she compiled a 321-86 record and captured three state championships, in 1993, 2001, and 2003. A master motivator, her teams were twice runner ups at states and won four Quad A WPIAL titles. McConnell-Serio balanced her growing family, she and husband Pete Serio have four children, her coaching responsibilities, with a return to the hardwood when she joined the Cleveland Rockers in 1998. She took home WNBA Newcomer of the Year honors and was named to the All WNBA First Team that year.
In 2003, McConnell-Serio returned to coaching, taking over the head job with the Minnesota Lynx. She turned the team around, taking them to their first-ever playoff appearance, and was named WNBA Coach of the Year after the 2004 season. McConnell-Serio left the WNBA and came home to Pittsburgh coaching first at Duquesne University, where she went to the WNIT five straight years, then at the University of Pittsburgh which made it to the second round of the NCAA tourney in her second season, 2014-15.
Known for her drive and determination, her meticulous preparation, and her ability to motivate herself and others, McConnell Serio was inducted into the Woman’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. In a family of basketball champions, her star burns bright.
Learn more about the history of sports in Pittsburgh from the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center.
This spotlight is a part of the Downtown Renown: Pittsburgh Sports Greats series. Learn more about the project, and look for all 14 sports profile windows in Downtown!
Arnold Palmer • Bill Mazeroski • Charles “Chuck” Cooper • Dan McCoy • Franco Harris • Honus Wagner • Joe Greene • John Woodruff • Josh Gibson • Mario Lemieux • Roberto Clemente • Suzie McConnell-Serio • Swin Cash • Sidney Crosby
📍 View this Pittsburgh Sports Great window installation at Market Square Place, 230 Fifth Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh.