Converse Athletics Department Welcomes Three New Coaches
July 15, 2019
Athletic Director Jennifer Bell and the Converse College Athletics Department are proud to announce the hiring of Alexandria “Allie” Alaman as the head coach of the Valkyries acrobatics and tumbling team, Gabriella Bigos as the head coach of the Valkyries lacrosse program and Jim Brunelli as the head coach of the Valkyries basketball team.
Allie Alaman comes to the Valkyries after one year at Arizona Christian University. During her time at ACU she successfully recruited NCATA record-breaking numbers of student-athletes from across the nation to compete at the collegiate level. Alaman also prepared and developed individuals and strategies to create a competitive program, maintained compliance with NCAA and NAIA by-laws along with eligibility rules while traveling and competing at University sponsored events, coordinated travel for 28 team members and staff during the competitive season, kept documentation, and accounted for expenses to stay within the athletics travel budget.
A four-time NCATA National Champion as a member of the Baylor Bears, Alaman brings a plethora of knowledge to the Valkyries program. While at Baylor she was the Bears’ camp head coach where she taught extensive training in acrobatic gymnastics and tumbling. Allie was also a tumbling instructor in Riverside, California during the summers of 2016 and 2017.
Alaman was assigned to the USA Worlds Acrobatic Gymnastics Team four consecutive years where she represented the country at worlds competition from 2009-14, winning the National Championship in 2014.
Alaman received her training at various locations on the west coast, including Realis Gymnastics in Riverside, California (2012-14), Empire Gymnastics, also in Riverside (2008-12), and Precision Gymnastics in Rancho Cucamonga, California (2002-2008).
“I am truly excited to take the next step in my coaching career at Converse College,” Alaman said. “It will be a chance to relocate, and work to strengthen an already successful budding program. I relished the year I spent with ACU, but am eager to take on a new challenge. I am extremely impressed with the support and engagement of the Converse administration on all levels for the Acrobatics & Tumbling program. I look forward to everything this position, year, and student-athletes will possibly bring me.”
Jim Brunelli brings a plethora of knowledge to the Converse basketball program and will look to build off of what has become a competitive culture.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to lead the Valkyries Women’s Basketball program,” Brunelli exclaimed. “Having the good fortune to work for Director of Athletics Jennifer Bell is a blessing, not only for me, but for my family. Her integrity, loyalty, and dedication to Converse College Athletics and its coaches are refreshing. My family and I look forward to building a special relationship with the Converse Community.”
Prior to accepting the job at Converse, Brunelli spent six seasons at Gannon University, recording 105 wins, tying him for second on the program’s all-time wins list by a coach. He won more games during his first three seasons with the Golden Knights than any other coach in program history. In addition, he guided teams to the NCAA Tournament during his initial two years at the helm of the Gannon basketball team.
Brunelli arrived at Gannon after serving as the head coach at Anderson (S.C.) University for five seasons. The Trojans won three conference tournament titles (two in Conference Carolinas and one in the South Atlantic Conference) and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament three times during his five seasons at the helm.
Brunelli was named SAC Coach of the Year in 2012-13 after guiding Anderson to the conference regular-season and tournament championships. The Trojans began the season with a 72-65 victory at NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) member Clemson, before finishing 23-9 overall.
Brunelli and the Valkyries will kick off the 2019-20 season with an exhibition at Division I High Point on October 26. A trip to Fairbanks, Alaska will highlight the early portion of the schedule for Converse on November 28-30, followed by the Valkyries first Conference Carolinas game, hosting Mount Olive on December 3.
Gabriella Bigos joins the Valkyries lacrosse program after a successful stint as the assistant women’s lacrosse coach at the University of Mount Olive.
“I am excited to be the new head lacrosse coach at Converse College and am ready to start leading the Valkyries to victory,” exclaimed Bigos. “Working with the team and building upon what has already been established, as well as with a supportive athletic department and welcoming atmosphere encourages me to give everything I have to this program.”
While with the Trojans, Bigos carried out many duties such as on and off field instruction, planning practice and conditioning, extensive recruiting of high school and transfer student athletes, organizing camps, clinics, community service and other special events, preparing for home, away, and overnight trips, communicating with SID’s for team media as well as controlling all team social media accounts
“Although I am sad to see Coach Bigos move on from UMO, I am excited to see the next step in her coaching career will be to a program in Conference Carolinas,” stated Grant Kelam, head coach at the University of Mount Olive. “I wish her well and know she will give Converse College everything she has to build a strong program.”
Previously, Gabbi served as an assistant coach with the University of Bridgeport women’s lacrosse team. While with the Purple Knights, Bigos helped coach the team to a 9-6 record and a 2017 All-East Coast Conference Women’s Lacrosse Second Team honoree in Lauren Mengel.
Prior to her time at Bridgeport, Bigos was a student-athlete at New England College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sport and Recreation Management.
Outside of collegiate lacrosse, Gabbi was a coach for several club lacrosse teams. She helped coach the Nor’easter Lacrosse Club, the Guilford Youth Lacrosse team, and the East Haven Youth Lacrosse Camp. She was also the head coach of the 2016 Cape Cod Lacrosse team.