The defending WNBA champion LA Sparks have hired former Wisconsin women’s basketball coach Bobbie Kelsey as an assistant coach, the team announced today.
“They know how to win and they have the players and the personnel to keep winning,” Kelsey said of her new team in an interview with Madison365.
“We are excited to add Bobbie to our coaching staff. She is an excellent coach who is very passionate about the game,” said Brian Agler, LA Sparks Head Coach in a press release. “She will be responsible for our preparation for competition and will be engaged in our practice setting. Bobbi will get up to speed quickly on the WNBA, how we play and practice and she will fit in perfectly to our culture.”
Kelsey played four years at Stanford and held assistant coaching jobs at Virginia Tech, Stanford, Evansville, Western Carolina, Florida and Boise State before landing the head coaching job at Wisconsin in 2011. The Badgers went 47-100 in her five years until she was let go after the 2015/16 season. She has continued to serve the Madison community over the past year as Vice President of Corporate and Wellness Programs at the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County.
The Sparks have won three WNBA titles in their 20 years in the league. They posted an impressive 26-8 record in 2016 en route to their third championship. The team returns its top two scorers, 2016 MVP Nneka Ogwumike as 2-time MVP Candace Parker.
Kelsey coached Ogwumike at Stanford and looks forward to the chance to coach her again.
“There’s a familiarity there,” Kelsey said. “She’s a great player. Works really hard. That’s the kind of player I want to work with. She wants to be in the gym.”
Kelsey isn’t worried about the jump from college to the pros. Even the interview process was about the same.
“It’s basic interviewing,” she said. “It’s nothing different than any other coaching interview. You try to get to know the folks who are running the team, the coach and the GM. Of course there’s no GM in college, but that’d be the Athletic Director. It’s different titles but it’s just getting to know the people you’ll be working with.”
On the court won’t be much different either, she said.
“It’s still basketball. It’s not rocket science,” Kelsey said. “It’s a different challenge. Not necessarily a more difficult one.”
What will be different in the schedule, since the WNBA is a summer league on a tight schedule.
“It is fast and furious,” she said of the schedule, which has exhibition play starting later this month and the regular season starting May 13. “A little different level of intensity but one I look forward to.”
Kelsey said she loved her time with the Boys and Girls Club, noting that she took pride in helping several events set fundraising records.
“We are very proud of her and wish her all the success in the world,” said Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson in a message to Madison365. “She will be an amazing coach!”
“I’ve done community service in my private life. I loved my time at the Boys and Girls Club,” she said. “But I’m a coach at heart. I had to get back to what I love. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”