Skip to content

The road back to coaching wasn’t an easy one for Pat Kelsey

Apr 9, 2012, 12:33 AM EST

Winthrop Kelsey Basketball

New Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey made news within college basketball last year when he decided to give up coaching in order to focus more on his family.

The death of his mentor Skip Prosser took an immense toll on Kelsey, who was seen during his time as an assistant at Wake Forest and Xavier as one of the rising stars in coaching.

Coming to grips with the loss of Prosser eventually meant that Kelsey, a Cincinnati native who grew up in a community that was “all blue collar and tough and handle-your-own-problems”, had to do something foreign.

He sought out help.

Attempting to work through his grief over the loss of his mentor Kelsey immersed himself in his job, but in the end that did more harm than good.

“[Kelsey’s wife Lisa] wanted her husband back,” Pat Kelsey said. “She wanted the guy she met, the guy who did everything to his fullest, whether it was work or family or whatever. But that guy wasn’t there any more.

“When I was on the road, I felt guilty for not being home. When I was at home, I felt guilty for not doing a better job at work. I wasn’t doing either one very well. And it just kept spiraling.”

Eventually, Kelsey decided to step down from his position at Xavier, taking the advice of his father and seeking professional help.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health 16.7% of Americans deal with depression at some point in their lives, and there are plenty of instances in which a person won’t look for help especially in athletics.

Dwight Hollier, a licensed professional counselor at Southeast Psych in Charlotte who is a former NFL linebacker, said Kelsey’s admission was rare because of the culture of sports he grew up in.

“It’s unfortunate but it’s true. There’s still a stigma associated with depression and mental illness,” said Hollier, a former star at North Carolina who played nine years for the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts. “There’s a macho culture. The impression we’re supposed to give off is that we’re unbreakable, and that’s especially true with coaches, because they’re the ones leading, they’re the ones showing the way.

“The statistics that are out there don’t always show an accurate picture, because more people are suffering than come forward. That macho persona in sports keeps a lot of people from opening up and getting help.”

Taking that step not only allowed Kelsey to get the help he needed but also recharge his basketball batteries, eventually leading to him taking the job at Winthrop.

Before coaching a single game at the Rock Hill, South Carolina school, Pat Kelsey taught his new players a first lesson. And an important one too.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Duke releases awesome ‘mixtape’ to celebrate Coach K’s 1,000th win (VIDEO)

    Jan 27, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    You sometimes forget just how good some of the Duke guards were throughout the years. Here’s a reminder.

  2. New Mexico governor donates $10,000 to Lobo star’s charity

    Jan 27, 2015, 3:33 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Hugh Greenwood made headlines last week for responding to an online troll.

  3. Dan Patrick Show: Coach K talks 1,000 wins, most important player (VIDEO)

    Jan 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Mike Krzyzewski AP

    Can you guess who the most important player in program history was?

  4. Winter Storms postponing a few college basketball games (UPDATED)

    Jan 27, 2015, 9:16 AM EST

    Ed Cooley (AP Photo) AP

    DePaul may have to reschedule their trip to Providence.

  5. Late Night Snacks: Iowa State tops Texas in top-25 Big 12 battle; North Carolina beats Syracuse

    Jan 26, 2015, 11:45 PM EST

    Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Marcus Paige AP

    North Carolina and Iowa State earned conference home wins on Monday night.

  6. No. 15 Iowa State holds on to beat No. 19 Texas

    Jan 26, 2015, 11:22 PM EST

    Isaiah Taylor, Monte Morris AP

    Iowa State bounced back from a loss against Texas Tech with a big home win over Texas.

  7. Ineligible UCLA freshman forward now allowed to practice with the team

    Jan 26, 2015, 10:00 PM EST

    FIBA FIBA

    UCLA should get a boost in practice with the addition of a four-star freshman forward to its roster.

  8. BYU starting forward could be held out for the rest of 2014-15 season

    Jan 26, 2015, 9:00 PM EST

    Nate Austin AP

    BYU might be without a key frontcourt piece for the rest of the season.

  9. Report: Wake Forest transfer finds a new spot in the CAA

    Jan 26, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    Wake Forest Demon Deacons v Arkansas Razorbacks Getty Images

    The son of a former NBA veteran is moving on to a CAA program from Wake Forest.

  10. Washington kicks talented shot blocking big man off the team

    Jan 26, 2015, 6:54 PM EST

    Robert Upshaw (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Washington loses one of the most talented shot blockers in the nation.

  11. Pregame Shootaround: A top-25 Big 12 clash highlights a slow Monday night

    Jan 26, 2015, 6:00 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwrjywuxywyyywu3mjy5mddjotbkn2i1nzqynjq3zdhk AP

    Not a lot going on Monday night, but still some great games to check out.

  12. Maryland gets a commitment from top-150 point guard in 2016 class

    Jan 26, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Mark Turgeon AP

    Maryland grabs an impact point guard in the 2016 class.

  13. Indiana’s Robert Johnson injured, cheerleaders’ folders to blame?

    Jan 26, 2015, 3:52 PM EST

    Maryland v Indiana Getty Images

    Johnson landed awkwardly against Ohio State and may have to miss some time.

  14. Videos of all the wild finishes from an insane weekend in college hoops

    Jan 26, 2015, 12:49 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    A recap of the nine craziest finishes from your college hoops weekend.

  15. Wichita State guard Conner Frankamp arrested on Saturday night

    Jan 26, 2015, 10:28 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Frankamp spent a little more than a year at Kansas before transferring.

  16. Weekly Awards: D’Angelo Russell’s ascension, Kansas takes the next step

    Jan 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    D'Angelo Russell (AP Photo) D'Angelo Russell (AP Photo)

    The best players and most impressive teams from the last week of college hoops.