Kiambra “Kiki” Griffin and Allie Bassetti pictured with the 2021-22 team during their last year before they moved on to bigger opportunities. COURTESY/GO JASPERS
By, Jilleen Barrett, Managing Editor and Features Editor
When the spring semester ended, the women’s basketball team bid a farewell to two of its own: Allie Bassetti and Kiambra “Kiki” Griffin. After years of encouraging the team to make moves on and off the court, the former coaching staff members are making some big leaps of their own.
Bassetti, who served as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, is now working at Columbia University as an assistant coach for their women’s basketball team. Bassetti significantly influenced the Jaspers, having been part of the coaching staff when the team went to the MAAC championships this past spring.
Bassetti credits Coach Heather Vulin and the Manhattan program for her career success.
“I felt personally I had the opportunity to help build that program under Coach Vulin’s tutelage,” Bassetti said. “…Recruiting high academic athletes is how I was able to transition from assistant recruiting coordinator with Manhattan to being an assistant here at Columbia.”
Griffin, who was the director of basketball operations at Manhattan, is now working with the Women’s National Basketball Association as a league operation analyst.
“I came to the Jasper’s as an intern,” Griffin said. “I could see a lot of growth that was happening with the program … A lot of what I wanted to do was off court and sort of this off court development for our players. I think that’s been expressed as just as important as what they do on the court.”
Griffin explained that academics, internships and opportunities for the players outside of basketball were extremely important to the coaching staff. Christina Katsamouri, guard and forward for the women’s team as well as a communication major, said Griffin helped her get a social media internship at the sports-based youth development program Kids in the Game.
“She went above and beyond to help me get an internship this summer,” Katsamouri said. “[S]he didn’t let me give up and she kept reaching out to people for me and encouraging me to keep looking even though I was being turned down, and thanks to her I now have an internship in the city and I could have never done it without her help.”
Both Griffin and Bassetti said the coaching and administrative staff are close with the team, which made leaving more difficult.
“We felt like as a staff, we recruited student athletes who knew what it was like to be a Jasper,” Bassetti said. “[They] had to go out and get everything that they earned, and I really identified with that, and so leaving the team is not something I necessarily was looking to do. Having to have that conversation with Coach V. (Vulin) — who was more than supportive of me moving on — and the staff and then having to call the girls … was really hard.”
Griffin felt similarly, adding how her work at Manhattan and her relationships in unofficial sixth borough will stick with her for her entire career.
“[Y]ou remember all that you’ve done and the impact that you’ve had on the people that you’ve been around, and vice versa,” she said. “Those are things we don’t forget. These are things that you carry on to your next move.”
Part of what makes the team special, Griffin and Bassetti agreed, was how they celebrated each other no matter what, and they said Coach Vulin usually influenced those celebrations.
Bassetti’s roles as recruiting coordinator will be taken over by Rena Wakama and Callan Stores, who previously served as assistant coaches. Wakama will continue assistant coaching along with Samera Marsh, who was the assistant coach of the women’s team at Monroe College from 2010 to 2015. Griffin’s position has been assigned to Raven James, who was recruited to Villanova University by Coach Vulin, according to a post on the women’s basketball team’s Instagram.