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Like parents, like daughter: for Royslands, coaching is in the blood

Kelly Roysland played in the Final Four; seven years later, she’s an assistant coach for her alma mater.
Like parents, like daughter: for Royslands, coaching is in the blood
Image by Mark Vancleave

Every time Kelly Roysland takes her seat on the Minnesota sideline, sheâÄôs following in her parentsâÄô footsteps.

Roysland, who helped take the Gophers to the Final Four as a player just seven years ago, is in her first year as an assistant coach at her alma mater. SheâÄôs also continuing a family coaching tradition that stretches back more than three decades.

Her parents, Mike and Kim Roysland, have been coaching for more than 60 years combined and were both inducted into Bemidji StateâÄôs athletic hall of fame in 2008. Mike is currently the head womenâÄôs basketball coach at the University of Minnesota, Crookston.

âÄúI grew up in a coaching family, and it kind of seemed like a natural fit,âÄù Kelly said.

As a player under current head coach Pam Borton from 2003-2007, Kelly finished her career as the GophersâÄô 12th all-time leading scorer with 1,074 points. During her freshman season, she scored in all five games of the programâÄôs Final Four run, and by her senior year she was a team captain and was selected third team All-Big Ten.

Kelly had considered coaching, but after graduation, the question was: Where?

It didnâÄôt take her long to find an answer.

In June 2008, Kelly was hired as an assistant at North Dakota State University. While she was at the program, NDSU went 32-26 overall, including a 23-13 conference record. She worked with the Bison for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, but knew that she eventually wanted to return to the Gophers.

âÄúIn the coaching profession, anytime that you can go back to someplace that has meant so much for you âÄî where you spent a significant amount of time âÄî I think a lot of people would jump at that opportunity,âÄù Kelly said.

Word of her skills as a coach spread, and in October she received a call from coach Borton inviting her to join MinnesotaâÄôs staff.

âÄúItâÄôs been a very easy adjustment,âÄù Borton said of KellyâÄôs first year in the program. âÄúThereâÄôs been no teaching or a big learning curve.âÄù

Borton is encouraged by KellyâÄôs understanding of the program, her winning ways at NDSU and her familyâÄôs knack for coaching.

Incidentally, Kelly has matched coaching wits with her father twice in exhibition games. SheâÄôs quick to point out that her team won both games, however Kelly and her father make it clear that both experiences were more fun than anything else.

âÄúItâÄôs really kind of a win-win situation,âÄù Mike said about the exhibitions. âÄúIâÄôm used to it because I coached for a long time against my wife. Fifteen years, I had to go head-to-head against her.âÄù

Make no mistake; the Royslands are competitive. Mike somewhat begrudgingly admits that âÄú[KellyâÄôs] got the upper handâÄù on him right now, even though he was never sure she would end up inheriting the family business.

âÄúI basically did not know that she was going to follow in those footsteps until she got done [playing at Minnesota],âÄù he said.

Regardless, KellyâÄôs foray into coaching seems to fit. Senior guard China Antoine said that KellyâÄôs youth and recent experience as a Gophers player helps her relate to players.

âÄúItâÄôs always good to have people that have gone through the system,âÄù Antoine said. âÄúFrom the second she got here sheâÄôs been very personable and has helped us out with everything that she can.âÄù

KellyâÄôs responsibilities with the womenâÄôs team involve developing the guards and perimeter players, scouting opponents and recruiting.

KellyâÄôs said sheâÄôs comfortable overseeing and organizing many of the teamâÄôs recruiting efforts, a role she views as advantageous thanks to her Minnesotan roots. She can talk with potential players about what it means to play for Minnesota and under Borton, and how it can be beneficial to stay in-state.

Kelly said some of the players sheâÄôs recruited actually followed her college playing career. âÄúIâÄôm kind of on the same wavelength as them,âÄù Kelly said of her in-state recruiting efforts. âÄúWe love to keep Minnesota kids here.âÄù

While this is probably the first of many years coaching with the Gophers, thereâÄôs always the next step to think about âÄî head coaching.

âÄúNow that IâÄôve been an assistant for almost three years, I think it would be fun at some point to have the opportunity to run your own program,âÄù Kelly said.

With her family coaching history and the experience sheâÄôs gained an assistant, Borton said she thinks a program of her own is well within KellyâÄôs grasp.

âÄúI think she knows the game extremely well, I think sheâÄôs a great teacher,âÄù Borton said. âÄúThereâÄôs no doubt that sheâÄôd make a great head coach someday.âÄù

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