The Seton Hill University women’s basketball team is the real deal. Not only are they driven to perform on the court, but they excel in the classroom and community as well.

For the fifth consecutive year, the team, led by Ferne Labati, was named to the
Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II Academic Top 25 Honor Roll. Seton Hill sits sixth in the nation, finishing the season with an overall grade point average of 3.58.

“Our team is the highest academic ranking women’s basketball team in the East Region. When players excel in the classroom, they excel on the court. This behavior carries over to their work in the community,” said Labati, who led the Griffins to their first ever National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament appearance where they advanced to the Regional Semifinal in 2010.

Off the court, the women’s basketball team participates in community service. Each player adopted a Sister of Charity at Caritas Christi, the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill. Every Griffin visits her “big Sister” once a week to play games, take her on field trips, help her answer emails or letters, take her on a walk or simply sit and chat about the week. The “big Sisters” support their “little sisters” by attending the home games, cheering and offering a few good luck prayers for the safety and success of the Griffins.

The team also focuses on cancer awareness and prevention. In the 2011-12 season, they hosted a Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Night and Breast Cancer Awareness Night, at which the Griffins raised $1,500 for the American Cancer Society.

“What I’m trying to create as a coach is the total person concept,” said Labati. “You don’t have a team, you have a program. A good program wins year in and year out, on and off the court, because of the philosophy of what you’ve done. Team building, strength and conditioning, skills training, it all makes the total person.”

“Coach Labati didn’t just develop the Seton Hill women’s basketball team, she developed a family and we are a family in which we all look out for one another,” said Clare Berenato, captain, of Pittsburgh, Pa. “I am so honored to be part of Coach Labati’s family. She has changed my life with the phenomenal leadership she has shown throughout my time at Seton Hill. Coach never gives up on us and has taught us life lessons such as blind faith, loyalty, perseverance and hard work.”

For 2011-12, the Griffins ended the season in eighth place in the WVIAC Division II Conference with an 11-18 record.

Members of the 2011-12 Seton Hill University women’s basketball team include: Paige Alviani of Hopewell, Pa., Clare Berenato of Pittsburgh, Pa., Jalessa Beverly of Youngstown, Ohio, Kelly Brennan of Pittsburgh, Pa., Katie Gattuso of Pittsburgh, Pa., Nicole Malara of Mount Pleasant, Pa., Meghan Mastroianni of Coraopolis, Pa., Megan Mignogna of Chgrin Falls, Ohio, Anne Marie Olesky of Greensburg, Pa., Shannon Powell of Glenshaw, Pa., Mallory Sanner of Uniontown, Pa., and Tiara Stossel of Indiana, Pa.

The 2011-12 team was led by Labati, Courtney Callas, assistant coach, and Joya Whittington, assistant coach.

Ferne Labati joined the Seton Hill coaching staff in 2006. Labati developed the Seton Hill women’s basketball program to take it from the National Association Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

She brings an extraordinary coaching background to the University. For the 17 years prior to Seton Hill, Labati was the head women’s basketball coach at the
University of Miami, Fla., where she became the school's all-time coach amassing the most wins.

Over her 31 year career, Labati has also received many honors, including being named Big East Coach of the Year in 1992. In 2004, Labati was inducted into the University of Miami Athletic Hall of Fame and was named Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/Russell Regional Coach of the Year. Last season Labati was named WVIAC Women's Basketball Coach of the Year.

Labati has had numerous players play professionally in Europe and as had four players who have played in the WNBA. She has coached one Kodak All-American, one Big East Player of the Year, one Big East Rookie of the Year and 19 Big East All-Conference Performers, one ACC First Team Member and nine All WVIAC Team Members.