A Boilermaker legend will join head coach Katie Gearlds on the sidelines at Mackey Arena starting next season as Purdue Women’s Basketball welcomed Kelly Komara back home as an associate head coach.
One of the top guards to play for Purdue, Komara helped guide the Boilermakers to the 1999 NCAA National Championship and runner-up honors in 2001. A three-time All-Big Ten selection, the 2001 NCAA Mideast Regional Most Outstanding Player and 2002 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Komara brings with her a proven track record of player development and being an effective recruiter.
Komara spent the last two seasons on staff at Marquette.
“I never thought I’d meet someone who loved Purdue as much as me, but Kelly Komara is it,” Gearlds said. “I am so excited to have Kelly back home to help get Purdue back to where it belongs. Kelly was a part of that generation that set the standard. She knows what it takes to get there. I can’t wait to see how much our players will benefit from her coaching and pure passion for Purdue. It’s always rewarding to welcome another Boilermaker back home.”
One of seven Boilermakers in history to score over 1,000 points, dish out 400 assists and record 200 steals, Komara is back on the sidelines at Mackey Arena for the second time, following two seasons from 2014-16.
“I’m both incredibly thankful and beyond excited to be coming home,” Komara said. “Katie is a proven winner and fearless competitor. Her love for our alma mater runs deep. I want to join her in elevating Purdue Women’s Basketball back to the top of the Big Ten. Purdue basketball prides itself on toughness, integrity and excellence. I bleed black and gold and can’t wait to be back in Mackey, again!”
Leading a dynamic backcourt in Milwaukee the last two seasons, Komara helped the Golden Eagles to back-to-back postseason appearances, including the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed in 2023.
Her final campaign at Marquette was highlighted by unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team honoree Jordan King, who finished in the top 10 of the league in scoring and assists. Komara was instrumental in helping Mackenzie Hare and Emily La Chapell earn BIG EAST All-Freshmen laurels in 2022-23. Marquette ranked as one of the most efficient offenses in the BIG EAST, averaging 16.5 assists per game with a 1.22 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Komara helped the Golden Eagles to a 23-11 record in 2021-22 and reach the third round of the WNIT. Marquette ranked among the nation’s elite in ball movement and passing efficiency. They averaged 18.0 assists per game to rank eighth in the NCAA, while holding a 1.21 assist/turnover ratio. Additionally, MU ranked near the top of the league in both field goal percentage (.435) and 3-point field goal percentage (.345).
Komara joined Marquette’s coaching staff following five years at Vanderbilt under fellow Purdue legend and national championship teammate Stephanie White. Komara served as the associate head coach from 2018-21 after starting as an assistant coach from 2016-18.
Komara has proven herself to be an exceptional recruiter and developer of talent. From 2017-19, she helped sign three consecutive recruiting classes that ranked in the top-20 nationally. In her five years at Vandy, she recruited and coached seven SEC All-Conference selections, notably helping Chelsie Hall to a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team in 2017-18. In 2019-20, Jordyn Cambridge led the league in steals and earned SEC All-Defensive team honors.
In 2019-20 Komara oversaw the first Commodore duo to post more than 100 assists apiece in nearly a decade. Hall led the team with 117 assists, while Cambridge became the first Vanderbilt player with 100+ assists (105) and 80+ steals (85) in a season in over two decades. Komara also served as the team’s defensive coordinator, director of non-conference scheduling, head of scouting and the liaison to the strength and conditioning coach.
Komara’s first time on the sidelines in West Lafayette came during two seasons from 2014-16. She helped lead her alma mater to a 20-12 record in 2015-16 and an NCAA tournament berth. She coached four All-B1G honorees and brought in the ninth ranked recruiting class in 2015.
In her two years at Albany prior to her time at Purdue, Komara helped the team to two NCAA tournament berths while achieving a combined 55-9 (32-1 America East) record. She recruited and developed 14 all-league selections, including two players of the year and a defensive player of the year.
Komara has also worked at Valparaiso, Auburn and Northwestern in a variety of roles.
In 2002, she was drafted in the WNBA third round by the Indiana Fever and played professionally for the Grand Rapids Blizzards in the National Women’s Basketball League. Komara also played professionally for Panathinaikos Basketball club in Athens, Greece.
Komara played for Purdue during arguably the best four-year stretch in program history. The Boilermakers reached the 1999 and 2001 NCAA National Championship Games, four NCAA Tournaments, three Big Ten Regular Season titles and two Big Ten Tournament Championships.
Purdue went 34-1 in 1998-99, including wins over No. 1 Tennessee and No. 3/4 Louisiana Tech to lift the NCAA National Championship, becoming the only program from the Big Ten to win a women’s basketball national title.
Komara played 134 games for the Old Gold and Black, making 99 starts. She averaged 9.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Her senior season as a team captain in 2001-02 saw her reach new heights with 12.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Her 120 steals her senior season is still the single-season record at Purdue.
Komara ranks 22nd in program history with 1,266 career points, 17th in free throws made with 283, 12th with 402 assists, fifth in steals with 297, 10th in games played and 17th in games started.
During her four-year playing career, Komara and the 2002 graduating class went 112-22 (83.6%) which is the best winning percentage by a class in program history, while ranking third in total wins. Komara’s class also holds the Purdue record for best Big Ten winning percentage at 84.4% with a 54-10 mark. The Boilermakers appeared in every AP Top-25 poll and reached the top 10 for 51 of 74 weeks. Komara finished with 23 ranked victories.
She was also granted the prestigious Mackey Award and Varsity Walk Award as a senior by the Purdue administration.
A native of Schererville, Indiana, and standout at Lake Central High, Komara was named Indiana’s Miss Basketball after averaging 21.5 points per game as a senior. She was the fourth Indiana Miss Basketball to play for Purdue.
Komara earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education from Purdue University in 2002. She went on to receive her master’s degree in higher education and sports management from Auburn in 2006.
Komara and her wife, Jenn, have two children, Kennedy and Hudson.