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Kelley Sundberg exceeding expectations in first season as Lasell women’s head coach

Kelley Sundberg exceeding expectations in first season as Lasell women’s head coach
Lasell women’s basketball head coach Kelley Sundberg. (Courtesy: Lasell Athletics.) 

Nico Manganiello - BVM Sports Contributor

NEWTON, Mass. (BVM) – In March 2021, Kelley Sundberg took over the Lasell University women’s basketball program. The program at Lasell has historically struggled over the years, making the Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament only twice since joining the conference in 2007. Despite making the playoffs twice, the team has never had an in-conference record of .500 or better. Today, Coach Sundberg has the Lasers sitting at 5-6 in conference play, tying the most GNAC wins ever for the program in a single season.

This job is Sundberg’s first as a head coach, but she is no stranger to college basketball. Sundberg was the women’s basketball assistant coach at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania for the past three years. She also coached two years as an assistant coach at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. Sundberg also has experience as a student-athlete, attending Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, where she was the team’s starting point guard for three of her four years.

Success at a new program is often not seen right away for many coaches, even less for first year head coaches in general. However, that has not stopped the former point guard from putting the Lasers right in the middle of a playoff race.

 Sundberg acknowledged that coaching changes are always challenging but credited her players for “embracing it and allowing us as coaches to change things about the program. They’ve been really receptive about that.”

A key to the success of Sundberg so early on has been the open line of communication she has had with her players. 

“We have had awesome conversations, very mature conversations with this group and they have really taken it and run with it, which has been fun to see,” Sundberg said.

Graduate student Peyton Young echoed the importance of communication to the team’s success.

“The communication is effective. We can go to Coach Sundberg with anything… [players] did not feel that before with prior coaching… she created an open and communicative relationship with all the players” Young said.

Young also acknowledged the change that Sundberg brought to the program. 

“The biggest change she has brought in is what she does off the court. She separated [the team] into two groups: first years and returners,” Young said. “We would meet individually once a week and in the returners group we talked about how to be better leaders, teammates, connect with the girls on the court and off the court.”

Sundberg is focused on helping her players grow as basketball players and people. 

“With basketball we’re trying to build skill sets [for the players] to apply in different areas of their life,” Sundberg said. “Dealing with conflict and problems… always going to be conflict and problems, it’s how you solve them,” 

Young has appreciated Sundberg’s lessons on and off the court. 

“I’ve enjoyed it a lot. She has pushed us out of our comfort zones,” the graduate student said. “I think I have grown not only as a basketball player and teammate but as an individual,” 

The Lasers will hope that the Kelley Sundberg era continues to see success as they near the tail end of Sundberg’s first season in charge.