Roysland brings passion to Macalester

The former Gophers assistant coach is a first-year head coach at Macalester.

David Nelson

The parking lot outside of Macalester College’s Leonard Center was still at 5:45 a.m. last Thursday morning.

Dew from the night’s rain settled onto blades of grass. Streetlights turned off in preparation for the morning sun. The only noise came from the hum of early morning travelers’ engines.

But inside the doors of the 6-year-old building, the Macalester’s women’s basketball team was full of energy and excitement as it warmed up inside the Division III school’s gymnasium.

The players smiled as they stretched to the sound of Iggy Azalea, but no eyes in the gym showed more excitement than first-year head coach Kelly Roysland’s.

Roysland played college basketball at Minnesota and served as an assistant coach under former women’s basketball head coach Pam Borton from 2010 to 2014.

Though Roysland didn’t return as an assistant under current head coach Marlene Stollings, Macalester’s new leader looks like she’s found her home in St. Paul.

Becoming a Scot

After becoming the interim head coach for Minnesota following Pam Borton’s firing, Roysland admitted that her time at Minnesota felt like it was coming to a

“I knew I wasn’t going to work at the ‘U’ my whole life,” Roysland said. “In that business, it’s difficult. As a coach, you [have] to be willing to take new opportunities.”

Roysland worked at Team WomenMN over the summer and explored a few different coaching options, which included an assistant position at Marquette University and a head coaching job at North Dakota State.

But after getting married this summer, Roysland wanted to stay close to home.

“It was a program that I think had a lot of potential. … When this opportunity opened up, it was a good fit for a lot of reasons,” Roysland said.

Three days before her wedding, she interviewed for the head job at Macalester. One day later, she was hired.

Roysland follows in the footsteps of her father, Mike, who is entering his eighth season as the head coach at the University of Minnesota-Crookston.

Mike Roysland said he believes his daughter is more than ready to be a head coach at the college level.

“She knows a lot about the game,” he said. “She’s been around the game for a long time — growing up as a youngster … to playing it collegiately … and then [being a coach].”

Kelly Roysland received plenty of training for a head coaching position during her many years around basketball.

She said the experience of having different head coaches during her time as a player and assistant has taught her different lessons and methods.

Roysland took on a bigger role during her final year with the Gophers. She was asked to do tasks that are often completed by a head coach.

Those responsibilities included recruiting on a national level and running practice when Borton was on the road recruiting.

Roysland said she had explored head coaching opportunities in the past, but she didn’t feel ready to pursue one and leave Minnesota.

“I didn’t feel like I was in the position that I needed to be in to be confident in my abilities [as a head coach],” Roysland said.

But Roysland said she has become comfortable doing a variety of different tasks, and she has developed a formula for how she would run a program.

And that will be put to the test with her position heading the Division III level program, where she will “have her hand in everything.”

But judging by her attitude, Roysland doesn’t seem afraid of the challenge.

“Once you kind of … feel comfortable about your ability to recruit, your communication skills with different coaches, being a teacher on the floor and the systems and things you want to implement, I think that that’s the time for you to go for it,” Roysland said. “I finally felt like I was ready.”

A player’s coach

Between 2004 and 2007, Roysland played guard for the Gophers and was a member of three teams that went to the NCAA tournament — including Minnesota’s run to the Final Four in 2004.

Roysland used that experience to train a talented group of guards — including last year’s Big Ten leading scorer, Rachel Banham.

“I loved Kelly,” Banham said. “Since she’s so young … she gets things. … She makes things fun and exciting. She doesn’t harp on you.”

And it didn’t take long for the players at Macalester to notice that Roysland brings a friendlier style of coaching.

“She’s just as loud as we are. She’s the first one to cheer us on. So it’s been really nice having her,” sophomore guard Grace Dickman said.

During an intrasquad scrimmage at the end of practice Thursday, one player missed a wide-open layup that would have put her team ahead in the closing seconds.

Roysland halted practice, but rather than punishing the player for her error, the first-year head coach simply told her that she needed to make those shots and gave her a high-five.

Though a small moment, it offered a glimpse into the sort of coach the Minnesota alumna is.

“Kelly brings a lot of enthusiasm and energy,” Mike Roysland said. “She’ll bring all that into that program, and I think it’s a great opportunity for her. I think that she’s really ready to be a head coach.”