Christi Abbate enters her 11th year at Iona and 16th year alongside head coach Anthony Bozzella in the college coaching ranks. Since coming to Iona in April 2002, Abbate has had an enormous impact on the women's basketball program.
As the associate head coach, Abbate serves the Gaels in many capacities, including defensive coordinator and scouting coordinator. Abbate's numerous additional responsibilities include player development, practice and game preparation, coordinating preseason and postseason workouts, and handling all of the team's compliance paperwork.
"Christi has been an integral part of all the success we have had at all three stops in our career," Bozzella said. "Her loyalty, dedication, basketball expertise, work ethic, and compassion make her a tremendous asset to our program. We are incredibly fortunate to have Christi on our coaching staff."
As the defensive coordinator, Abbate plays an instrumental role in Iona's tenacious defense. The Gaels employ an aggressive pressure defense, which thrives on forcing turnovers and enabling the offense to get out in transition. Under Abbate's tutelage, the team regularly ranks among the MAAC leaders in scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense.
On the recruiting end, Abbate has helped Iona land many elite players, including Martina Weber (the 2007 MAAC Player of the Year and a 2007 WNBA draft pick), Toni Horvath (the 2004 MAAC Rookie of the Year), and Kristina Ford (the 2009 MAAC Rookie of the Year), as well as several other All-MAAC players and MAAC All-Academic honorees. A masterful tactician and an outstanding motivator, Abbate excels at helping her players maximize their potential.
Bozzella and Abbate have achieved a lot together at Iona. When they came to New Rochelle in 2002, they inherited a program that had struggled through 20 consecutive losing seasons. Over the past nine years, they have engineered a dramatic turnaround, transforming the program from a cellar dweller into a championship contender. The Gaels have emerged as one of the top teams in the MAAC and a formidable power across the mid-major level of women's college basketball.
Over the past seven years, the Gaels have achieved all of the following:
- Five consecutive winning seasons
- An overall record of 119-104 (a MAAC record of 75-51)
- Two 20-win seasons (2006-07 and 2007-08)
- Two berths in the MAAC championship game (2007 and 2008)
- Three postseason appearances (2007, 2008, 2010)
- Two victories in the WNIT (one in 2007 and one in 2008)
This success has solidified Iona's place as a force to be reckoned with. Before coming to Iona, Abbate coached alongside Bozzella at Long Island University (2000-2002). At LIU, they won the 2001 Northeast Conference championship, thereby earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Abbate's first coaching job was at Southampton College, where she worked on Bozzella's staff from 1997-2000.
Abbate grew up in Dix Hills, NY, and she attended Half Hollow Hills High School East. She attended Binghamton University, where she graduated in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in environmental planning and was a four-year letter-winner for the basketball team.
Abbate lives in West Islip, NY, with her husband John and their daughters Emma, 5 and Kate, 2.