Liz Repella is ''home.''
Three years removed from taking off her West Virginia University jersey for the final time, the former Steubenville High all-Ohioan is back in Morgantown - this time as a graduate assistant for Head Coach Mike Carey.
''Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer,'' Repella said. ''Coach Carey knew I wanted to get back here. He knows how much I love this place.''
After spending the past two seasons as the assistant director of basketball operations for the women's program at the University of Michigan, Repella jumped at the opportunity to return to alma mater.
''He called and asked if I'd be interested,'' Repella said.
It didn't take long for her to say yes.
''This is perfect timing,'' she said.
For Carey, entering his 14th season, the chance to bring one of his former players back into the fold was one he couldn't pass up.
''We're excited,'' he said at last week's B-MAC Scholarship Reception/MAC Coaches Caravan at Stratford Springs.
''She was a great player for us and a great individual. What's a better role model than her?''
Repella left WVU after building quite a resume as a back-to-back first team all-Big East performer. She still stands in the top 10 in scoring (1,641). That included a 34-point outburst against USF in 2009.
''She'll be responsible for day-today operations and that type of stuff,'' Carey, the reigning Big 12 Coach of the Year, said. ''We want her to get involved in as many things as she can.
''Liz eventually wants to get into coaching. And there's no doubt she'll be a great coach.''
Yes, Repella wants to coach, just not long term.
''I don't want to make a career out it, if that makes any sense,'' she said. ''I want to stay in in for about 10 years or so. Eventually, I'd like to get into administration.''
That will be the focus of her masters work in Morgantown.
''I'll be in athletic coaching education,'' she said.
After graduation from WVU the first time, Repella played basketball in Spain for a year. Then, looking to get into coaching, she contacted former WVU assistant Chester Nichols, who had moved on to Michigan.
''Coach Carey put in a good word for me and that's how I got started at Michigan,'' Repella recalled.
This past season, the Wolverines, under head coach Kim Barnes Arico, advanced to the NIT before falling to Bowling Green. Repella said the experience in Ann Arbor certainly helped prepare her for her new opportunity.
''For one, I hope to bring my love for the state and the university,'' she said. ''Hopefully, when recruits come on campus, I can tell them about my experience.
''I'm not that far removed from college athletics, so hopefully I'll be able to relate with them.''
''Who better to talk to about the game than Liz?,'' he said. ''Who better to talk to about me, the way I am?
''Liz was with me for four years. The younger players will have an opportunity to talk about the program with her and what to look forward to.''
Repella said it'll be interesting coaching with Carey as opposed to playing for him. But she's looking forward to building their relationship in a different light.
''I played for Coach Carey and he's a tough coach to play for,'' Repella said. ''But, in the end, I wouldn't choose to play for anyone else.''
Thorp can be reached at email@example.com