Madonna renames gym floor after Bernabei-McNamee

NEW NAME — The Rev. Dennis R. Schuelkens Jr. and Jamie Lesho, principal at Weirton Madonna High School, stand on the recently re-named Joanna Bernabei-McNamee Court at the high school. The court was named in honor of McNamee, a 1993 graduate, also commemorating the 25th anniversary of the girls basketball state championship won by the school in 1992. (Photo by Craig Howell)

WEIRTON — In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of its 1992 girls basketball state championship, Weirton Madonna High School has named its gymnasium floor in honor of a member of that team.

Joanna Bernabei-McNamee was a 1993 graduate, former point guard and team captain for the Lady Blue Dons.

She currently is the coach of Albany University’s women’s basketball program.

“I am truly honored to be a part of the Madonna girls’ basketball legacy,” said Bernabei-McNamee. “I cherish the memories I made on that court from the countless hours of practice and hard work to the thrill of victory that I shared with my teammates and coaches. Being a part of the Blue Don tradition and the lessons learned both on and off the court during my time at Madonna shaped my love of both the game and life. I am very humbled and would like to thank everyone that made it possible.”

During her high school career, Bernabei-McNamee surpassed 1,000 points and 500 assists, later attending West Liberty State College, where she collected more than 1,000 points and more than 1,000 assists.

She was the first woman to earn First-Team All-WVIAC honors in each of her four years, also earning Division II All-America and WVIAC Player of the Year honors in 1997. She graduated from West Liberty in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology.

Her records of 1,107 career assists and 24 assists in a single game still stand as NCAA Division II records. She holds the Division II record for career assists per game, and school and conference records for single game, season and career assists.

Bernabei-McNamee has been inducted into the Madonna, West Liberty and OVAC halls of fame.

She began coaching while enrolled at Eastern Kentucky University, where she served as a graduate assistant on the women’s basketball team while earning her master’s in sports administration. Following graduation, she became head coach at West Virginia Wesleyan, earning a record of 18-10.

In 1999, she became assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at West Virginia University, staying until becoming assistant coach at the University of Maryland in 2003.

While at Maryland, she brought in four nationally ranked recruiting classes, which helped win the national championship in the 2005-2006 season.

Following a one-year return to West Virginia in 2008, she would become the head coach at the University of Pikeville in 2013. In three seasons, her teams went 63-35 and played in two consecutive national tournaments, including making it to the NAIA Final Four in the 2015-2016 season.

Upon arriving at Albany, she inherited a program which had earned five consecutive America East titles, leading the Great Danes to their sixth conference championship in her first year and earning her 100th career victory as head coach in a win over Vermont in the America East quarterfinals.

Known as “Coach Mac,” she is married to Joe McNamee, and has two children, Luke and Caden.