Katie Abrahamson-Henderson — a former Lady Bulldog who has experienced outstanding success as a head coach over the last two decades, including her current stint at UCF — has been named the third full-time head coach in Georgia women’s basketball history, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks announced Saturday.
Head Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson
“This is a dream come true. I am thrilled to return to Georgia as the head coach at one of the premier women’s basketball programs in the country,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “I want to thank president Jere W. Morehead, athletics director Josh Brooks and senior deputy athletics director Darrice Griffin for the trust they have placed in me. I also want to thank Andy Landers and Joni Taylor for the foundation of success they have laid as we continue to build on that great tradition.
“What we did at UCF was the most historic season in school history! Winning the regular season and conference tournament titles, earning a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament — the highest in program history — and winning in the first round of the NCAA to reach the round of 32. It is not easy to leave a place like UCF, and I want all our administrators, players, alumni, fans and supporters to know you will always hold a special place in our hearts.
“When I signed a national letter of intent with Coach Landers in 1985, this program was in the middle of a remarkable and unprecedented run of competing for SEC and national championships. In talking with Josh Brooks and Darrice Griffin, our vision and belief that Georgia will compete for championships and postseason success lined up perfectly. I am so ready to get started.”
J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks
“We are thrilled to welcome Katie, Michael and their daughters Savannah and Brooklyn to Athens,” Brooks said. “Throughout this process, one name kept coming up, and that was Coach ‘ABE.’ Her resume and history of success at every level is impressive. Our goal was to find a proven coach who has had sustained success both in competing for conference titles and in the NCAA tournament. Katie is the entire package, and I can’t wait to see what her teams are able to accomplish here at the University of Georgia.”
President Jere W. Morehead
“We are excited to welcome Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson to the University of Georgia,” Morehead said. “Her history of excellence and success as a head coach at UCF, Albany and Missouri State is remarkable. I am confident she will be an outstanding ambassador for the University and our women’s basketball program.”
Senior Deputy Director of Athletics Darrice Griffin
“Coach ‘ABE’ has demonstrated a special commitment to excellence in all aspects of higher education and competition,” Griffin said. “She stands firm in empowering young women, developing their talents and gifts while also preparing them for purpose-driven lives after their student-athlete experience. I truly believe we have found the right leader to build upon the rich history and tradition of Georgia Women’s Basketball.”
In 17 seasons as head coach, with stops at UCF, Albany and Missouri State, Abrahamson-Henderson’s teams have compiled an impressive 372-157 record — a 70 percent win percentage and average of 22 victories per year. Her squads have also won seven conference regular season titles, nine league tournament crowns, have earned 11 NCAA Tournament berths and 14 postseason bids overall. Her Missouri State team also won the 2005 WNIT Title.
Most recently, the 2021-22 UCF Knights set the school record for most wins in a season with a 26-4 overall mark, including a 14-1 record in league play, on its way to winning the American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships. The Knights advanced to the NCAA tournament, where they narrowly lost to No. 2 seed UConn, 52-47, in the second round.
For her efforts, Coach ‘ABE’ was named the 2022 AAC Coach of the Year, marking the fourth time in her career she has earned league Coach of the Year honors. Under her guidance, Diamond Battles earned AAC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and placed on the conference’s first-team squad.
Overall, she has coached seven players to league Player of the Year accolades, five to Defensive Player of the Year and 20 student-athletes to first-team honors.
At UCF, her teams hit milestone after milestone with postseason bids each year (excluding the 2020 COVID season). In 2018-19, UCF earned the program’s first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and followed with yet another trip and the highest seed in school history in 2021.
Coach ‘ABE’ led UCF to a 131-49 record in six seasons. After being named head coach in 2016, her impact was felt immediately. Her team finished 21-12 that year — a 14-game improvement from the previous season and the second-best turnaround among Division I women’s basketball programs.
Her 2018-19 squad finished with a 26-7 record and 13-3 mark in The American to finish in second place. This came after her 2017-18 team tied the program’s Division I record for wins in a season and made back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time.
Prior to UCF, Abrahamson-Henderson spent six seasons at Albany (2010-16), where she led the Great Danes to a combined nine America East Conference tournament and regular season titles, including four Players of the Year awards, four Defensive Players of the Year awards, one Scholar-Athlete of the Year, one Rookie of the Year and nine first-team all-conference selections.
She was chosen as the America East Coach of the Year three times, helping the Great Danes to a combined 83-13 record in league play. Albany won 38 consecutive America East regular games, which set a new league record and, at the time, was a Division I record.
Coach ‘ABE’ guided Missouri State to three Missouri Valley Conference tournament championships, a pair of MVC regular season titles and three NCAA berths from 2002-07.
In addition to her head coaching stops, Abrahamson-Henderson was the associate head coach at Indiana from 2006-10, an assistant coach at Washington from 2007-08, the associate head coach at Michigan State from 2000-02, an assistant coach at Iowa State from 1994-00, an assistant coach at Maine from 1992-94 and an assistant coach at Duquesne from 1990-92.
As a player, Abrahamson-Henderson was a Parade Magazine and USA Today High School All-American and was a highly sought after recruit. After playing two seasons for Coach Landers at Georgia, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa native transferred to play for C. Vivian Stringer at Iowa. She was a member of two Big Ten championships teams. As a freshman at Georgia, she helped the Lady Bulldogs capture the 1986 Southeastern Conference Crown.
Abrahamson-Henderson played in 64 total games with 34 starts during her two seasons in Athens. She totaled 443 points and 253 rebounds from 1985-87.
She earned a B.S. in physical education with an emphasis in sports administration from the University of Iowa. She received her master’s in education from Duquesne University in 1992.
Abrahamson-Henderson and her husband, Michael, have two daughters, Savannah and Brooklyn. Michael also had a celebrated college basketball career and eventually played for the Harlem Globetrotters. He led Long Island-C.W. Post to a pair of NCAA Tournaments and scored 1,173 career points from 1981-84.
Michael was a referee in the WNBA from 1998-01 and an NBA ref from 2001-06. He is currently a Division I women’s basketball official in numerous conferences across the country.
Photo Courtesy UGA AthleticsGeorgia SEC UCF