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Former Pitt Coach Agnus Berenato Steps Down at Kennesaw State while Battling Cancer

Former Pitt Coach Agnus Berenato Steps Down at Kennesaw State while Battling Cancer

Agnus Berenato has always been considered a fighter, whether it is getting the most out of her teams or in a battle against breast cancer and Monday it was made clear that she is in for another battle.

Kennesaw State announced in a university-issued press release that Berenato, its women’s basketball coach will be taking a leave of absence as she continues her fight against cancer following Oct. 1 surgery.

Berenato is a 33-year coaching veteran and spent 10 seasons leading the Pitt women’s basketball team, with two of those campaigns resulting in Sweet 16 berths. She is planning to return in the spring of 2021.

“I am very confident in my doctors, surgeons and support team,” Berenato stated in the press release. “I have been with Dr. Rhonda Wachsmuth and the Georgia Breast Care group for two years and I have great faith in her and her team. Dr. Theresa Wang was also on my surgical team and she was terrific.”

Khadija Head, who was an assistant with Berenato’s Pitt teams and has served as Kennesaw State’s associate head coach will be the interim head coach during this time.

Last season, Kennesaw State visited Duquesne in a game which served as a homecoming for four Owls players in, Breanna Hoover, Amani Johnson, Gabi Legister and Gillian Piccolino.

After the game, Berenato and Piccolino were joined in a press conference by a guest coach, which is a tradition anytime the New Jersey native is leading her team.

For those moments, it was hard to tell that Duquesne had just defeated Kennesaw State. Both the game and result came second, with teaching always coming first.

That has always been the Agnus Berenato way.

“I asked them what they were excited for and they said they were excited to see how they lived and I told them, ‘they lived in America, what are you talking about,’  Berenato said. “Then they asked, ‘well what do they eat?’ All of the Pittsburgh girls answered back, ‘perogies. We don’t need to make it sound like a foreign country. To me that was so exciting and that’s my job as an educator.

“In 10 years my kids are not going to remember whether they won or lost. They’ll remember going to the Duquesne Incline last night. I don’t mean to simplify it but sometimes we make everything really hard. What’s important is family, friends and faith. We really wanted to have fun and I really had fun tonight. I know it probably looked like I was an idiot or crazy, but I worked my ass off. I had the best time.”

Berenato held the media in the palm of her hands that day with everyone letting out a laugh. With Berenato the glass is always half full regardless of the amount of adversity she faces and it is hard to doubt that this will be any different.

Below are some thoughts from the basketball community regarding Berenato’s continued fight with cancer:

 

 

 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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