It’s the story of a foreign-born junior college point guard who found her way to the Big Dance, twice.
Angelika Szumilo’s collegiate basketball career began at Mercer County College in New Jersey where she led the Vikings to back-to-back Region XIX titles.
After earning the NJCAA Region XIX Player of the Year award in 2000, Szumilo, who was then known as Angelika Stec, found her way to Downtown Brooklyn where first-year head coach Tony Bozzella was attempting to turn a scrappy, talented bunch into winners.
Bozzella inherited a LIU Brooklyn team that had building blocks in place with Tamika Dudley, an imposing post player, and Kim MacMillan, a dynamic scorer, set for their sophomore seasons. It is difficult to mold a championship team without a reliable point guard, though, and fortunately for Bozzella, he found one in Szumilo.
With the Polish-born junior college transfer running the point, the Blackbirds took off come NEC Tournament time and captured the program’s first-ever trip to the Big Dance.
Szumilo averaged 8.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists during the 2000-01 season and her 136 helpers ranked second-most in LIU single-season history at the time. Szumilo averaged 13.7 points per game over three contests during the 2001 NEC Tournament and was named to the all-tournament team. She almost single-handedly took over the final against Mount St. Mary’s, scoring a then career-high 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting with eight rebounds, playing all 40 minutes in Long Island’s 70-61 victory
Szumilo earned NEC All-Tournament honors again in 2002, but the Blackbirds finished one win shy of a championship repeat.
Although her playing eligibility was expended, Szumilo’s career at LIU was far from over.
When Stephanie Gaitley took over the head coaching position for the 2002-03 season, Szumilo was named to the staff as an assistant. She remained at LIU for five seasons, assisting Gaitley during back-to-back 20-win campaigns (2006-07; 2007-08) and a Postseason WNIT appearance (2006-07), the first in program history.
She moved onto Monmouth with Gaitley, helping the Hawks to their first-ever Postseason WNIT berth in 2011.
For the past four-plus seasons, Szumilo has served as the associate head coach alongside Gaitley at Atlantic 10 member Fordham.
The Rams have enjoyed unprecedented success, including three consecutive 20-win campaigns, under their current leadership.
In 2014, thirteen years after Szumilo and the Blackbirds captured the NEC crown, Fordham secured its first-ever A-10 Tournament title.
She did it in Brooklyn as a player and in the Bronx as a coach.
Angelika (Stec) Szumilo has carved out quite a career for herself in the New York City college hoops scene.