By Gianna Addario
---- — Things are going to look a lot different on the Ipswich girls basketball team next year after head coach Mandy Carter-Zegarowski announced that she is stepping down.
Her 10-year tenure with the Tigers has seen its fair share of highlights, with seven Cape Ann League titles and over 150 wins.
Her decision to leave the program came after her son, Syracuse star Michael Carter-Williams, announced that he would enter this year’s NBA Draft, where he is expected to be a lottery pick. A mother first, Carter-Zegarowski wants to be able to help manage her elder son’s career and have time to go to her younger children’s basketball games, without coaching interfering.
“I want to be able to be part of what my kids are doing,” said Carter-Zegarowski. “I wasn’t really sure until Michael was in the (NCAA) Final Four and decided to go into the NBA Draft. I really love what I do, so it made it much harder to step away ... I just want to watch my kids.
“As much as we know basketball, Michael going into the draft is a whole new world for us.”
Carter-Zegarowski, who led the Tigers to a 17-4 mark this past winter, let Ipswich High Athletic Director Tom Gallagher know of her decision a few days ago. He’ll look to fill the position by the end of the school year.
“She told let us she’s stepping down primarily for family reasons,” said Gallagher. “Knowing Mandy, she gives 110 percent to everything she does and with everything going on right now, she knew she wouldn’t be able to (coach).
“Its huge a position to fill. Mandy’s done an amazing job and definitely put the program on the map.”
Over the past two seasons, Carter-Zegarowski had the chance coach her daughter Masey at Ipswich. Masey, who dominated the court as the Tigers’ point guard and was this past season’s Salem News Player of the Year, dazzled as one of premiere players on the North Shore.
Masey Zegarowski will also be leaving Ipswich High; she’s headed to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, NH for her junior year.
“She really liked the school and it’s a great opportunity for her,” Carter-Zegarowski said of her daughter.
“I kept my decision to myself because I didn’t want that to influence her choice. I may have been more inclined to stay if Masey stayed. For so long I’ve been able to take my kids with me when I coached, but it’s hard to coach while my kids are elsewhere.”
Masey will play for former Hamilton-Wenham standout Laurel Brown, who is now the head coach at Brewster.
Carter-Zegarowski’s younger sons are headed to Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School next fall and will most likely play basketball for the Generals. Her children will most like play on opposite nights in the winter, so she’ll have an opportunity to see all of them play — something she wouldn’t have been able to do if she remained as head coach in Ipswich.
A basketball family through and through, the Carter-Zegarowskis rallied together after a fire destroyed their Hamilton home in March. They found a bright spot in unfortunate circumstances, travelling to Atlanta for the Final Four to watch Carter-Williams and Syracuse take on Michigan in the semifinals.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Carter-Zegarowski. “It was four days of non-stop basketball. It was such a special time looking back on it.”