Achesinski staying in the game

By John Enrietto 
Eagle Sports Editor 

ERIE — A major in marketing, a masters in organizational leadership and a love of basketball. 
Amy Achesinski has found a way to make all three work in her life. 
Now in her second year as the full-time assistant women's basketball coach at alma mater
Mercyhurst University, the Butler graduate also serves as the program's recruiting coordinator. 
That means a lot of marketing, plenty or organization — and seeing plenty of basketball. 
“I market our school to kids,” Achesinski said. “I'm equipped to do that. I played here. I work with the coach who coached me. I graduated from here. 
“I love this university and talking to people. Really, this has been tailor-made for me. I'm loving it.” 
The Lakers (4-11, 2-3)have six freshmen — recruited by Achesinski — on their current 11-player roster, some of whom start. The program has already signed four players early as part of next year's class. 
Mercyhurst visits Slippery Rock for a 1 p.m. game Saturday
 at Morrow Field House. 
“We just beat (20th-ranked)
Indiana with a bunch of freshmen,” Achesinski said. “It's exciting. Mercyhurst basketball is going to make strides in this conference over the next few years.” 
Achesinski ranks third in Lakers' history with 1,704 points scored and 889 rebounds. She ranks second in career field goal percentage (56.8) and eighth with 216 assists. 
Mercyhurst coach Deanna Richard benefitted from those numbers. Now she's benefitting from Achesinski's enthusiasm and work ethic off the court. 
“Amy is a natural when it comes to dealing with people,” Richard said. “She's well-spoken and very positive. She connects with recruits very easily and can talk to them about anything because she's such a genuine person. 
“Kids and their parents recognize right away she's not some recruiter giving a sales pitch. She cares about people.” 
Coaching responsibilities during the collegiate basketball season prohibit Achesinski from seeing more than one or two high school games a week. The bulk of her traveling occurs during the summer AAU season. 
While the Lakers don't recruit nationally, Achesinski does get around. 
“We're in a pretty good location here, a couple of hours from
Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo,” she said. “We'll go into New York, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia
“I've been to
Kentucky,. Washington D.C. ... There's so much talent out there.” 
Achesinski estimates she looks at anywhere from 30 to 50 girls during the summer. 
“Skill is obviously an important trait,” she said of checking out a prospective recruit. “But I'm also looking for little things you can't coach, like attitude, effort, heart, desire. A coach can't put those things in a kid. It has to be there.” 
Richard emphasized that Achesinski's recruiting skills were put to the test right away. 
“We lost seven kids from last season,” the coach said. “That left a lot of playing time for these first-year players to fall into. 
“Amy is cut out to be a coach. She enjoys the teaching aspect and she can tell when a player doesn't understand something I went over. She'll take the player aside and make sure she understands.” 
Achesinski is still unsure of her coaching future. Before the assistant's job became available at Mercyhurst, she had applied for the head coaching job at Mercyhurst Northeast. 
For now, she's satisfied being an assistant coach at the Division II level. 
“Moving on to Division I, being a head coach at Division II or III, I don't know if I'll want that or not,” she said. “I'm happy in the assistant's role. Whether I'll be coaching long-term, I haven't decided. 
i may wind up doing administrative work down the road. I'm always open to trying new things.” 
But she still loves being around basketball. 
“It's always been a big part of my life,” Achesinski said. “For sure, that hasn't changed.”