Kelsey Keizer assumed the role of head coach at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, before the start of the 2014-15 season. She led the Bearcats to a 16-13 record this past season, which was their best season since 2007-08. The Bearcats also made an appearance in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Tournament. The Okaboji, Iowa, native participated in the WBCA’s 2015 Center for Coaching Excellence that was held in Atlanta.
Tell us a little about your background?
I played college basketball at Drake University and was fortunate enough to win two championships and play in three postseason tournaments. I was coached by a transformational coach — Amy Stephens. She taught me the true definition of excellence. We worked hard, we were prepared, and the byproduct was success. I had a fantastic college experience which really catapulted me into the coaching profession. After completing my finance and education degrees at Drake, I played overseas in the Czech Republic. I played for Team Sparta and worked with Athletes in Action Sports Ministries.
What do you like to do in your free time?
When I get a break from basketball I am always looking for an adventure overseas. I really enjoy working on overseas missions trips through Athletes in Action. I have been to Africa, South America, and the Middle East in the past five years.
When did you know you wanted to be a coach?
I knew at a young age I wanted to coach. Basketball was such a huge part of my life and there were so many coaches that shaped me throughout my youth. I always had a desire to give back.
Do you have any pregame rituals?
Before games, I spend time in prayer and quietness. I like to clear my mind of all strategy and statistics to focus on my attitude and mindset. I still get nervous before nearly every game and my staff has to remind me to take a breath and sit still.
What is/are the most challenging part(s) of your role?
One of the most challenging responsibilities I have as a young head coach is leading my staff. I want to be open and welcoming to all of my staff members’ ideas; however, I want to stay true to my own philosophy. After spending years as an assistant coach I still find it hard to delegate smaller duties to my staff. I still enjoy being a part of all of the small details of our team as well as the big.
How do you work through these challenges?
I have surrounded myself with a staff that I trust and that knows me. They do a good job of reminding me to stay true to myself. I find myself needing more and more time to myself and my own thoughts. I have had to learn how to balance my office time so that I can be ready to answer any question thrown my way, by both my staff and my team.
Briefly state your coaching philosophy. What values are important to you that you try to instill in your student-athletes?
“Relentlessly Pursing Excellence” epitomizes my life philosophy. Hard work is an important character quality that I learned from my parents and then my coaches. I want all of the young ladies who come through my program to understand the value of hard work. No matter what it is that our team is working on, we want them to be excellent at it. We want to pursue our absolute best every day in every endeavor. The relentless part indicates a competitiveness and a toughness to which we pursue our best. And as my college coach, Amy Stephens, always said, “Winning will be the byproduct of hard work."
What is your favorite memory in your current coaching role thus far?
This past season we upset the No. 1-ranked team in the nation right before the holiday break. We had one of the most difficult weeks of practice leading up to that game. We faced adversity from within and outside of our team that week, yet on game day we were able to perform one of our best games of the season. It was the best Christmas present to see our team persevere through adversity together. It served as a turning point for our season, and in my coaching career.
What does it mean to you to be recognized as a WBCA “Thirty Under 30” honoree?
This is a very special honor to receive. I have so much respect for so many great coaches involved with the WBCA, and to be named on any sort of list is such a humbling recognition. The coaching profession is grueling and so cut throat. It is such a rewarding experience to be a part of the WBCA where coaching can come together to encourage and support one another. This award is a special nudge of encouragement for me as I move forward in my coaching career. I am thankful for the amazing administrators at SBU for giving me the opportunity to be a head coach at such a young age, and I am thankful for my coaching staff which truly pushes me forward every day.
The WBCA recognizes annually the WBCA's Thirty Under 30 recipients. This recognition was created to honor thirty of the up-and-coming women's basketball coaches age 30 and under in the sport at all levels of the game. For more information on the award, click here.