As far back as her early days playing the point for Carol Mastacouris at Chelmsford High, Colleen Mullen knew that she wanted to make a living as a basketball coach.
“Even as a young player, in my freshman year, I felt like I was trying to be a coach on the floor,” Mullen said. “I was always a student of the game and prided myself on being an extension of coach Mastacouris. That was my dream, what I wanted to do.”
Through a couple of stops and starts, the 35-year-old Mullen is in her fifth season as an assistant women’s coach at Army, and her fourth as the associate head coach under Dave Magarity.
The Black Knights have averaged 23 wins the past three seasons, advancing to the postseason each of those years. The preseason favorite to win the Patriot League, Army entered Saturday’s matchup against visiting Emerson with an 8-1 record.
A Globe All-Scholastic in volleyball, Mullen was a three-year basketball captain at Chelmsford and especially enjoyed wins over Haverhill – “we hadn’t beaten them in umpteen-something years” and playoff upsets of Lynn English and Boston Latin.
She earned a scholarship to the University of Rhode Island, where she started for two seasons and led the Rams in assists. But after her sophomore year, Mullen moved on to the University of New Hampshire, sat out a year as a transfer and then captained the Wildcats as a junior and senior.
Her 4.6 assists per game her final season were the second-highest total in the America East.
Mullen graduated with a degree in business administration and set out to start her coaching career.
“I applied to probably 80 jobs, pretty much anything there was on ncaa.org,” said Mullen.
She got nowhere, but tried again the following year. Her persistence paid off: Mullen landed a position as the director of basketball operations at Northern Illinois, followed by two seasons as an assistant at Southern New Hampshire University, where she picked up a master’s in business administration. She worked a Lehigh for one season before taking a year off for family reasons and working in pharmaceutical sales.
“That sealed the deal,” Mullen said. “I knew I wanted to be back coaching as soon as I got out. I was out of coaching and miserable. I had ESPN on constantly. I think it was on 24 hours a day.”
She accepted a coaching position at Long Island University and then made the move to Army.
Mullen, and her wife, New York University head women’s basketball coach Lauren Hall-Gregory, and their six-month-old daughter, Maggie, live in Ossining, N.Y.Allen Lessels can be reached at email@example.com.