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Get to know Westfield girls basketball coach Kelsey Key
Credit: Rocks Media House

Get to know Westfield girls basketball coach Kelsey Key

WESTFIELD, Ind. — “Roller coaster season.” That’s how the new Westfield High School (WHS) head girls basketball coach described her first season at the helm. That’s also how standout player Ellie Kelleher described her junior campaign with the first-year head coach. On its face, that might not sound like a great description, but to have a coach and player on the same page speaks volumes to head coach Kelsey Key’s approach to leadership: the Xs and Os of basketball will come, but she is intentional about creating strong bonds, lasting relationships, and great humans.

“Some of my greatest memories about playing high school and college basketball are the times we spent together off the court,” Key said. “The laughs on the sidelines, the late nights in hotel lobbies, the bus trips – those are the things I remember fondly. And those are the memories I want our team to have.”

Credit: Rocks Media House

Coach Key comes to Westfield’s basketball program after coaching at the division 2 level for three years. Prior to that, she played four years of basketball at Indiana Wesleyan University, where she averaged 14.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game during her senior season as a Wildcat. She took over WHS’s program after former head coach and current assistant athletic director Ginny Smith stepped down last year.

“We are super fortunate to have Kelsey here at Westfield,” Smith said. “She’s fantastic at her craft, and she’s a true student of the game. I look forward to seeing her build not just this team, but this program.”

The relationship piece of her leadership is even something the former coach recognizes.

“Kelsey is young and full of energy,” Smith said. “She is able to relate to the players on a different level and really motivate them and get them to push themselves.”

Kelleher, the aforementioned junior guard, echoes Smith’s thoughts on Coach Key’s enthusiasm.

Credit: Rocks Media House

“I would describe Coach Key as supportive, positive, and enthusiastic,” she said. “This year we bonded really well and established a solid culture, but there is still room for improvement.”

You might be wondering how you’ve gotten this far into a piece about a basketball coach and not read anything about basketball yet. That’s because to talk to Coach Key about her team, is to talk about young women first and ballers second. Even when talking about goals for next year, her mind goes straight to community outreach.

“Next year, I’m looking forward to finding opportunities for our team to get out into the community and do some volunteer work,” Key said. “This past year, our team adopted a family and fulfilled some of their needs over the holidays. We went to the store together and did the shopping together, and we really bonded over participating in something that was bigger than ourselves.”

When asked how she could tell the team was improving, she didn’t cite wins and losses but, rather, bench energy.

“I could really tell our team was turning a corner when the energy on the sidelines started to organically pick up,” the coach said. “In the beginning of the year, things were quiet on the bench, but, eventually, they became each other’s biggest fans and were making noise from the opening tipoff to the final buzzer. That let me know that we were growing as a team.”

With such a focus on relationships, team building, and lifetime memories, the obvious question is how did it translate to the on-court performance? That’s where the roller coaster comes back into play. The team started off hot with a three-game winning streak, and then the bumpy ride began. The Rocks beat some really tough competitors, including Indian Creek, giving that team their season’s only loss. And they lost some heartbreakers, including a four-point loss to one of the state’s top teams in Zionsville. The team finished with a record of 12-11, and they fell to Zionsville once more in the sectional tournament.

But this is only the beginning, and Coach Key is just getting started.

“All season, our motto was ‘Relentless Pursuit,” she said. “Whatever you are pursuing, you need to be relentless about it, and don’t let anything stand in your way. When we’re practicing, we’re relentless in trying to get better. When we’re in the game, we’re relentlessly fighting. And when we’re off the court, we’re relentlessly trying to become better people.”

That relentless attitude is what this new head coach is bringing to Westfield High School’s girls basketball program, and it can already be seen in her players. When asked what she thought about this season, player Ellie Kelleher proved her relentlessness for improvement.

“As a whole, I think everyone developed on and off the court,” Kelleher said. “We came together as a team, but we have more growing to do.”

As if trying to show Coach Key that she has internalized the teachings, Kelleher leaned once more on growth and relationships.

“We had some awesome highs and some not so great lows, but overall it was a great season,” she said. “This was also a notable year for growth, and next year we can be even better. We had to learn and adjust to a new coaching staff, and they had to do the same. But we have an awesome relationship, and that will carry us into the future.”

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