Morrone – who becomes the seventh head coach in school history – arrives at Merrimack after an impressive seven-year stint at John Carroll University. She guided the Blue Streaks to 117 wins over the last seven years, claiming a pair of Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) regular-season titles, the 2018-19 OAC Tournament Championship and three NCAA Division III Tournament berths, the first three appearances in school history.
“Kelly has established an outstanding track record on the court, and a strong commitment to serving the role of a mentor and educator to student-athletes,” Gibson stated. “We are thrilled to welcome Kelly to Merrimack and are excited for all she will bring to our community!”
The last two years of Morrone’s tenure have been particularly impressive, posting back-to-back 20-win campaigns including a 23-win season in 2019-20. She totaled four seasons of at least 20 victories over her seven-year stint at John Carroll, while coaching 19 OAC All-Conference selections, three NCAA Division III All-Americans and one National Semi-Finalist for DIII Player of the Year. She won a pair of OAC Coach of the Year honors (2013-14, 2018-19), while boasting a roster that featured four OAC Player of the Year award winners over seven years, a pair of OAC Freshman of the Year recipients and two OAC Defensive Players of the Year.
“In a short time, Merrimack College has proven to me to be a true family, and one that I am blessed to now be a part of. I’d like to thank President Hopey, Director of Athletics Jeremy Gibson, and all of the committee members for my appointment to lead what is an extremely determined women’s basketball program,” Morrone stated. “This team is composed of women chasing excellence in all that they do evident by their success on the court and in the classroom. I’m excited to be a servant leader to them, our college, community, and to the Northeast Conference.”
Morrone’s head coaching career started spectacularly, winning the first 11 games of the 2013-14 season with John Carroll. She went on to post a 22-win effort in her inaugural season, leading the Blue Streaks to their first-ever OAC Regular Season Championship, first NCAA Tournament bid and first NCAA Tournament victory. She matched that effort in 2014-15 with an identical 22-5 record that featured a 16-1 start to season and a follow-up bid to the NCAA Tournament.
After reaching the OAC Tournament in four of her first five years on the sidelines, Morrone guided John Carroll to its first-ever OAC Tournament Championship in the 2018-19 season. The Blue Streaks won 22 games for the third time in six years under Morrone, taking down Ohio Northern University, 61-58, to claim the title. The 2019-20 campaign featured a career-best 23 wins, and a return trip to the OAC Championship game.
Prior to her arrival at John Carroll, Morrone’s background features a myriad of Division I assistant coaching positions. In 2012-13, she served as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the College of William & Mary where she focused on the development of the Tribe’s guards, acted as offensive coordinator and focused on skill instruction, game preparation, and scouting as well as all aspects of recruiting. She also has New England roots with a stop at the University of Rhode Island (2010-12) as the Rams’ Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator. She held the same title at Davidson College (2008-10), while her coaching career began at the University of Buffalo as an assistant coach (2005-08).
Morrone was a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina, where she contributed to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances for the Gamecocks. South Carolina reached the Elite Eight during her junior season (2001-02), and followed that up with an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament during Morrone’s senior year (2002-03). Morrone ranks third all-time in South Carolina history in career three-point percentage, three-pointers made and three-point attempts.
She was also a three-year captain while a player at South Carolina and a four-year SEC Academic Honor Roll selection. Morrone graduated from South Carolina with a degree in sport & entertainment management.
What They’re Saying About Kelly Morrone
“Kelly Morrone makes things happen! This is an incredible hire and I can’t wait to watch her teams play. Merrimack fans are going to love watching her on the sideline and the style of play from her teams. She is a great communicator and teacher of the game.” – Dixie Jeffers, head women’s basketball coach, Capital University
“I have known Kelly since she was in the eighth grade. She has been passionate, intense and focused on success since the early stages. I have watched her grow into an incredible young lady, coach, colleague and mentor. Merrimack, you hit a home run when you named Kelly your next head coach!” – Felisha Legette-Jack, head women’s basketball coach, University of Buffalo
“Kelly is a true leader on the court and in the community. Her knowledge and passion are evident through her commitment to our student athletes as she herself is a continuous student of the game. I am grateful for her contributions and the impact that she has made on the lives of so many of our student athletes at John Carroll University.” – Michelle Morgan, Senior Director of Athletics & Recreation, John Carroll University
“Kelly has impacted my life in more ways than I have the time to address. I have had the honor to play for, work with, be mentored by, and develop a strong friendship with Kelly the past 7 years. I am a walking representation of the impact that Kelly has on her players and her commitment to developing young women into the best versions of themselves both on and off the court. Kelly has the ability to build a culture within a program that exudes excellence with relationships at the forefront of every move she makes. She has proven this through her patience, determination and will, and ultimately success at John Carroll University. In a time when student-athletes are seeking the opportunity to be more than an athlete, she understands and commits daily to being more than a coach. Her knowledge of the game and her investment in her players has had proven results on the court. Kelly is more than prepared to take on this opportunity, and I am excited to see her impact be felt within the program, in the community, and most importantly with the players at Merrimack.” – Chanel Murchison, head women’s basketball coach, Claremont Mudd-Scripps