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Washington Mystics Mike Thibault to Retire from Coaching

Mike Thibault in action with the Washington Mystics. Photo by: Stacy Podelski/1495Sports

Mike Thibault has announced that he will retire from coaching the Washington Mystics. Thibault will continue as general manager and lead decision-maker pertaining to the team’s basketball operations. Eric Thibault has been named Washington’s head coach while Maria Giovannetti has been elevated to assistant general manager/senior vice president of strategy and vision. LaToya Sanders will return to the Mystics’ bench as associate head coach. 

“When we first hired Mike 10 years ago, we assigned him a large task: to make the Washington Mystics relevant in the WNBA, and he more than delivered. In the last decade, we won a championship and have been a perennial playoff team while appearing in back-to-back WNBA Finals,” said Monumental Sports & Entertainment Founder and CEO Ted Leonsis. “We have had some of the best players in the world wear the Mystics uniform. Mike was able to bring a once in a generation talent in Elena Delle Donne to our team. His talent evaluation and player development acumen are unmatched from selecting Natasha Cloud and Emma Meesseman in the second round to adding Ariel Atkins and Shakira Austin to the Mystics roster. We are thrilled that he will continue to lend his expertise to our basketball operations as general manager and look forward to continued success for the Mystics.”

The winningest coach in WNBA history (379-289, .567), Thibault was first named the team’s head coach and general manager on Dec. 18, 2012. He has been at the helm of the Mystics basketball operations for the last 10 seasons, leading the franchise to their first WNBA title in 2019. During his tenure with Washington, he has led the team to eight playoff appearances (2013-2015, 2017-2020, 2022) and compiled a record of 173-155 (.527).

“We congratulate Mike on all his accomplishments and are grateful for his leadership these last 10 years. He has elevated the Washington Mystics to a level of prominence in the WNBA,” said Monumental Sports & Entertainment Vice Chairman Sheila Johnson. “We are happy to know that he will continue to lead our basketball operations and look forward to a successful season.”

A three-time Coach of the Year, Thibault engineered one of the most impactful off seasons in league history when he acquired Olympian and WNBA MVP Elena Delle Done and signed All-Star and WNBA Champion Kristi Toliver prior to the 2017 season.

“I am proud to have been the Head Coach of the Washington Mystics the past 10 years. After 55 years in coaching (the last 20 in the WNBA), I feel like it is time to turn this team over to Eric and his coaching staff on the court. He is ready and prepared for it. I am looking forward to my continued role as GM, working together with the incredible energy that Maria, Eric and the rest of the staff bring in order to continue our pursuit of another WNBA Championship. Maria will take on an even greater role in the development of our team on and off the court. Needless to say, we have an important off-season ahead,” stated Thibault.

“I will be forever grateful to Ted Leonsis, Sheila Johnson, and the Monumental ownership group for the support and resources they have given us to succeed, as well as the lifetime friendships that we have formed. I have been blessed to have worked with so many great players here in D.C. and throughout my career, and I’m excited to still be around the wonderful core group we have returning this coming season. A special thanks to the wonderful staff we have had throughout our time here – I couldn’t ask for better teammates in this journey. I have had so many great mentors and met so many unbelievable people because of the game of basketball – thanks to all of them. Thanks also to our great fans who believed in us when we promised them a championship after all the years of waiting.

Lastly, and most importantly, thanks to my family. My kids, Eric and Carly, have lived and continue to live a basketball life as new head coaches – I will be more nervous watching them coach than coaching my own games! I am proud of what they have earned with their hard work and dedication. The love of my life, Nanci, has been a part of this journey for over 40 years and has been our rock through it all. She is truly my better half, and this wouldn’t have been possible or enjoyable without her. We are looking forward to this next chapter in our Mystics and D.C. life!”

Eric Thibault enters his first year as head coach after spending the last 10 seasons as an assistant coach with the Mystics, including the last four as associate head coach.

“Eric is a young talent that we have seen develop the last 10 years. In the last four years, he has assumed more responsibilities and has been an instrumental voice in the success of our team,” said Leonsis. “From winning the championship in 2019 to helping us navigate the last two years of a pandemic, Eric knows our roster and we are looking forward to his success as our next coach.”

As part of his responsibilities the past 10 years, Thibault has directed much of the player development, with an emphasis on coaching the guards. Thibault has guided players such as Natasha Cloud, who was named to the All-Defensive First Team in 2022 and led the league in assists (7.0 apg), as well as Ariel Atkins, a 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist, perennial All-Defensive WNBA Team recipient and two-time All-Star.

“We are so excited to elevate Eric as our new head coach and I wish him all the best,” said Johnson. “He has spent the last decade learning from one of the best and we look forward to having him continue the excellence that is Washington Mystics basketball.”

“I am incredibly honored and excited for the opportunity to lead the Washington Mystics as head coach. I want to thank Ted Leonsis, Sheila Johnson, Mike Thibault and everybody at Monumental Sports & Entertainment for trusting me with this new role,” stated Eric Thibault.  “I’m ready to help the Mystics get back to the championship level that our fans, players, and staff expect. D.C. has become home for my family and I, and I’m thrilled to be continuing our journey with this exceptional organization.”

Maria Giovannetti returns for her 12th season with the Mystics. Giovannetti has served as the team’s assistant general manager for the last five season and will add senior vice president of strategy and vision to her responsibilities.  She has held numerous roles with the Mystics throughout her tenure, including director of basketball operations, where she oversaw all day-to-day functions for the team including player contracts, budget management, team travel and player development.

“Maria has been the glue to our success. She has been present at all the key moments of our team,” added Leonsis. “We think that under Mike’s tutelage, she will sharpen her considerable skills and eventually lead our basketball operations.”

“I would like to thank Ted, Sheila and Coach T for the opportunity. I look forward to continuing to drive a winning culture and supporting team development on and off the court,” said Giovannetti.

LaToya Sanders who enters her third year on the bench with Washington.  As a member of the Mystics’ coaching staff, Sanders is responsible for working with and helping develop the team’s post players, including Shakira Austin, who was named to the 2022 WNBA All-Rookie Team. Sanders also plays a crucial role in scouting and building practices plans.

“I am excited to continue my coaching career alongside Eric as he becomes head coach. As a player and coach, I have witnessed his passion and brilliance for the game. I look forward to continuing to work with the players to bring another championship to D.C.”

Prior to joining the coaching staff, Sanders played professionally for seven years with the Phoenix Mercury, Minnesota Lynx, Los Angeles Sparks and Washington Mystics. In four seasons with Washington (2015-2019), Sanders averaged 7.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.  She averaged 6.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a member of the 2019 Mystics Championship team, starting every regular season and playoff game.

For more information on the Washington Mystics fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

Washington Mystics – Official Site of the Washington Mystics (wnba.com)

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