The bond between Mom and Daughter is unmistakable and forever linked. Yet, both Mary and Lisa Gedaka have also emerged as undeniably strong and talented women in their own rights, both of whom are well known all around the Delaware Valley.
When Villanova women's basketball star Mary Gedaka completed her collegiate career following a loss to Marquette in the Big East Tournament, she hadn't yet realized the impact of the moment. Her team was likely to receive a bid to the Women's NIT, but the tournament was canceled due to healthcare concerns with the COVID 9 outbreak.
Suddenly, Mary's basketball playing days were over. Forever.
"I guess it will hit me more now that the season is officially over," Mary said recently. "Basketball has always been a part of my life."
But one person Mary could always turn to that understood her situation was her mom and high school coach at Gloucester Catholic, Lisa Gedaka, who experienced the same career path as her daughter. While Mary was completing a brilliant career for the Lady Wildcats, she always could talk with her Mom, Lisa, who was the Big East Player of the Year in 1988. And the comparisons between Mom and daughter never stopped throughout Mary's career.
"Yes, because of social media the comparisons to my Mom were always brought up -- but never by my Mom," said Mary. "At times I thought about the legacy. As it turns out, Mom was always there to support me, give me advice, and help me make it through college. She understood. She was my biggest fan. She went through everything I did. I knew I could always count on her love and support."
But those comparisons between Mom and daughter were always there. For example:
· For the Lady Wildcats, Mary scored 1370 career points, averaging 14.4 points per game, while also pulling down nearly 600 career rebounds. She earned numerous accolades, including Big East Academic All-Star Team (2018-19), Second Team Big East (2018-19), Big East Sixth Woman of the Year (2017-18), and National Freshman of the Year (2016-17). She will likely land a spot as a Big East All-Star when the 2020 selections are announced.
· Lisa was honored as Big East Player of the Year in 1988, landed in the Big Five Hall of Fame, while also becoming the fifth Villanova women’s basketball player to have her jersey retired by the University.
· Both played for Coach Harry Perretta, who recently wrapped up his 42nd year as The Lady Wildcats' coach.
· At Gloucester Catholic Mary (2016 graduate) scored 1,900 career points and was selected as South Jersey Player of the Year three times. Lisa, a 1984 GCHS alum, scored more than 2,000 career points as Lisa Angelotti and proved to be a major contributor in a Lady Rams' dynasty that dominated South Jersey girls basketball.
Lisa, who has compiled more than 600 career wins in 30 years as Gloucester Catholic's head coach, always heard the comparisons too. But Lisa, admittedly, has enjoyed two different experiences in guiding Mary's career on and off the court.
“It's been a great ride filled with many wonderful moments," Lisa commented. "As her coach, I never let the fact that I was her Mom interfere with the program. Mary earned everything on her own and proved to be a great player and teammate.
"I was thrilled when she committed to Villanova and Coach Perretta -- and this was solely her decision. I got to sit in the stands as a Mom and watch her on the court from a different perspective. I could analyze her strengths and weaknesses as a player. We talked all the time while she played at Villanova. Our entire family is proud of Mary's accomplishments."
But, wait, there are even more family comparisons. Mary plans to pursue her master's degree in occupational therapy at Stockton University, continuing a tradition of family members working in health care professions. Her Mom Lisa and Aunt Annette Reiter, both practice as visiting nurses. Her Grandmom, Mrs. Marilyin Angelotti-Kelly, served as a hospice nurse, and her cousin Alyssa is also studying to enter the occupational therapy field.
"I'm excited to continue my studies in occupational therapy and to enter into a healthcare profession," said Mary. "Our family has a history of working in health care and helping people. I'm happy to continue in that career path."