Coach Kelsey-Grayson Interview: The Final Four Experience, Predictions, Mississippi State having a shot, and finding your path
Mrs. Bobbie Kelsey Grayson, having just completed a one year stint as Vice President of Corporate and Wellness Programs at the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County in Madison, Wisconsin, spent the previous 5 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as the head women’s basketball coach.
Kelsey Grayson was a four-year letter winner at Stanford University from 1992-96. She helped the Cardinal to three Final Four appearances in five years as a player, including the 1992 NCAA championship. Kelsey was a team co-captain in 1995 and 1996, voted the team’s Most Inspirational Player in 1992 and 1996, and named the team’s most improved player in 1993. After her playing career, Kelsey-Grayson spent the next 14 years working as an assistant coach at numerous institutions including Stanford University, Virginia Tech, Western Carolina University and the University of Florida to name a few.
We sat down and talked with Coach Kelsey-Grayson about the Final Four experience, how basketball helped her in life, Mississippi State being a sleeper and how young girls can use athletics to propel them through life!
A.WaL: What’s the Final Four week like for players and coaches?
Coach Kelsey-Grayson: Well because I’ve been on both sides. Long ago as a student athlete but more recently as an assistant coach. To be able to experience a Final Four and all the Pageantry that comes with it, the excitement knowing your one of for teams left for the big prize and everyone has an equal shot to get it; you just have to being playing your best ball that day. To be able to experience that is once in a lifetime I wish everyone could but everyone doesn’t unfortunately. It’s a very surreal experience.
A.WaL: What was the energy like being a player in the Final Four?
Coach Kelsey-Grayson: It’s hard to put into words. After all the hardwork throughout the year, the practices, being on the road, taking test on the road because you got a game, your parents coming, your friends, your family. To culminate that with a championship. You really stand there and say, did we really just do that? Because every team looks forward to it every year but only one team is going to win. So to have that opportunity to actually go there and not just experience the Final Four but to come home with the trophy is unbelievable. So I understand the tears both ways. Getting that close and not winning or getting that close and winning, either way those tears are going to flow. I feel for them when I watch now because i remember how I felt.
A.WaL: I don’t want to be to obvious. I know you went to Stanford and Connecticut is obviously the favorite so is there anything you like about Mississippi State and South Carolina State?
Coach Kelsey-Grayson: UCONN is going to be hard to beat. Just because they are a machine, they’re the Warriors of Women’s basketball, they’re the UCLA of back in the day, they’re the Bulls of yesteryear, they’re the Lakers with Kobe and Shaq. They’re the Minnesota Linx of the WNBA who have won multiple championships and the Sparks. It’s going to be hard to beat them because they are precise in what they do, they know their roles on the team, they have the talent ability and smarts. It’s going to take a perfect game from one of those other schools to beat them. I think Mississippi State has a very good chance if they play the way they’re supposed to because UCONN makes you play perfect. If you want to watch great, precise basketball. Watch UCONN they play a beautiful game.
A.WaL: Whats next for you? Head coaching again? General Manager for a WNBA team?
Coach Kelsey-Grayson: I don’t know what it’s going to look like but I do love basketball. I love the game it’s been very good to me, it’s allowed me to travel all over the world, meet great people, play with great people, work under great coaches. I can’t say anything bad about it, i’ve had injuries and setbacks but all of that is a part of it. You can’t have all the good and no bad. No one wants to get hurt but it teaches you. It’s a microcosm of life. I want to get back to the game and I will get back to the game as soon as my stint with the Boys and Girls club is over. It’s where I can really effect obviously women because that’s who I coach but people in general. It allows me to use the platform as a testimony for how I got where I am and how God has opened doors. And share it with people to give them encouragement and motivation to keep pushing. Athletics is about push, push, push never give up. No team should give up and in life you can’t give up, keep pushing.
A.WaL: Any words of wisdom for girls out there who may have felt they didn’t get the scholarships they deserved and may be feeling a little discouraged. Any words of wisdom for them?
Coach Kelsey-Grayson: The bottom line is you’re not going to play ball forever. It’s an ego hit when you don’t get things that you feel you should. At the end of the day you end up exactly where you are supposed to be, I believe that you’re not always able to explain it. Some people say that’s easy for you to say cause you went to Stanford. I never thought I would go to Stanford. Stanford was not on my list. I got hurt they still recruited me, that was my divine path. That may not be for everybody, you don’t have to go to Stanford to be successful. You just have to get your degree. Then use it to your benefit. You may not have been the best player or went to the best school but you may end up turning that into a CEO position, because you understand team. As an athlete you understand time management, you understand working together with a group of people that you didn’t know previously. So it gives you a lot of life skills to go forward in whatever career that a young lady would consider. But at the end of the day don’t compare don’t put your situation up against somebody else’s everyone has their own path. And whatever it is for you will be for you. So just push on through.