Kelly Roysland photoCoach Kelly Roysland

Forward thinker

Third-generation coach Kelly Roysland, ’09, focuses on relationships

Gopher basketball dynamo Kelly Roysland, ’07, ’09, grew up in a coaching family.

Her maternal grandmother, Bernice Carlin, coached volleyball, basketball, track, and cheerleading at Fosston High School in northwestern Minnesota.

Her mother, Kim Roysland, coached Fosston’s volleyball and golf.

Her father, Mike Roysland, is the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Minnesota–Crookston.

The three racked up more than 80 years of combined coaching experience at the interscholastic and intercollegiate levels.

Roysland couldn’t escape her pedigree. After serving as an assistant coach at North Dakota State University (NDSU) and the University of Minnesota, she is now entering her third year as head women’s basketball coach at Macalester College in Saint Paul.

“I’ve seen a lot of sides to coaching,” she says, “but what my family really taught me was outside the scope of the game.”

Roysland credits her family with instilling the value of relationship-making and loyalty—an ethos that she was able to build upon as a student-athlete and graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

From athlete to coach

A four-year letter winner as part of Golden Gopher Women’s Basketball, Roysland made three trips to the NCAA Tournament and one appearance in the WNIT, including her role as the “sixth man” on the Golden Gophers’ 2004 Final Four team and 2005 Sweet Sixteen squad.

Roysland earned her bachelor’s degree in the School of Kinesiology’s sport management program and continued on for her master’s, finishing her M.Ed. in sport and exercise science. She credits faculty members Jo Ann Buysse, Mary Jo Kane, and Nicole LaVoi, in particular, with influencing her academic experiences at the U, and they continue to inspire her as a coach.

“They opened my mind to issues in coaching and sport that I hadn’t thought of,” Roysland notes. “They shaped strategies of how I coach today.”

Her academic experience not only provided textbook examples of how to be a successful coach but also helped Roysland build her coaching philosophy. That philosophy extends her value of creating and maintaining relationships and looks to rebuild Macalester’s basketball program. Already in the 2015–16 season, Roysland nearly tripled her win total.

“I wouldn’t have gotten my first job without my master’s,” she says. “And I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the relationships I built in CEHD and at the U.”

Her master’s and a strong support system that also included former Gopher head coach Pam Borton provided Roysland with the connections and the confidence to take the jump from her first assistant position at NDSU to returning to the U as an assistant in 2010 and moving on to Macalester in 2014.

Forward thinking

Building and keeping relationships is also a critical part of recruiting and coaching at the Division III level in a small, strong liberal arts college like Macalester.

“I’m not just recruiting the student athlete, I’m recruiting the whole family,” says Roysland. “And while I’m a teacher on the court, I’m also teaching the students about Macalester and what they can experience here.”

Roysland’s holistic coaching philosophy comes through in what she tells aspiring coaches.

“Stay connected to your past,” she advises, “but also be a forward thinker. You don’t want to wait to be asked to do things. You want to control the answer to the question: ‘What do people say about you when you’re not there?’”

She practices what she preaches.

“Kelly maintains her passion and love for sports while being committed to enhancing a quality educational experience for her players,” says U professor Mary Jo Kane. “We are lucky to have her as a proud graduate of CEHD, and I am honored to call her my friend.”

Learn more about Kelly Roysland and the School of Kinesiology.

Story and photo by Austin Stair Calhoun | July 2016