Skip to content

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

Apr 9, 2012, 12:33 AM EDT

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. Washington adds two forwards in 2015 class

    Oct 20, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Indian Hills Community College Indian Hills Community College

    Lorenzo Romar now has a six-man recruiting class for 2015.

  2. Top 25 Countdown: No. 15 Oklahoma Sooners

    Oct 20, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Buddy Hield (AP Photo) Buddy Hield (AP Photo)

    Oklahoma has a chance to be the second-best team in the Big 12, especially if a key player receives a waiver.

  3. St. Joseph’s loses another front court piece for the 2014-15 season

    Oct 20, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Phil Martelli AP

    The Hawks will have a thin front court this season.

  4. 2014-2015 Season Preview: Which new coaching hires will succeed?

    Oct 20, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Steve Wojciechowski AP

    Five new hires that should thrive, and five who may end up struggling.

  5. Report: Former Oklahoma State guard leaves his junior college

    Oct 20, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT

    Stevie Clark, Jevon Taylor AP

    Stevie Clark was dismissed from Oklahoma State after a pair of bizarre incidents involving the police.

  6. Maryland lands commitment from junior college point guard

    Oct 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Mark Turgeon

    Jaylen Brantley is Maryland’s first commitment in the class.

  7. No longer supplementary pieces, two Texans will lead the way at Weber State

    Oct 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Randy Rahe AP

    After riding the coattails of a pair of Californians, Weber State’s focus on recruiting the state of Texas will pay off this season.

  8. Former NBA guard says Emmanuel Mudiay ‘handled himself well’ in first game in China

    Oct 20, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT

    unnamed-1

    Mudiay has now played two preseason games as a professional.

  9. 2014-2015 Season Preview: Weber State won’t lack for challengers in Big Sky

    Oct 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Weber State's Joel Bolomboy (AP Photo) AP

    Weber State will be the preseason favorites, but Northern Arizona, Sacramento State and Eastern Washington will lead a group of challengers capable of pushing the reigning champs.

  10. Highlights from San Francisco’s ‘Hilltop Hoopsfest’ event (VIDEO)

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:57 PM EDT

    Rex Walters AP

    Junior forward Mark Tollefsen may be one of the best dunkers in America.

  11. Louisville takes next step in season preparations with their annual Red-White Scrimmage

    Oct 19, 2014, 8:49 PM EDT

    Chris Jones, Dillon Avare Chris Jones, Dillon Avare

    Chris Jones’ three-pointer in the final seconds gave the White team a 75-72 win over the Red.

  12. Fractured foot to sideline Maryland forward 4-6 weeks

    Oct 19, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    Evan Smotrycz AP

    Evan Smotrycz was re-evaluated Saturday after suffering the injury at the end of practice Friday.

  13. Durand Johnson returns in Pittsburgh’s Blue-Gold Scrimmage

    Oct 19, 2014, 6:36 PM EDT

    Durand Johnson, Zach Gordon Durand Johnson, Zach Gordon

    Johnson last played in live action on January 11, when he suffered a torn ACL in the Panthers’ loss to Virginia.

  14. 6-foot-10 center verbally commits to Colorado State

    Oct 19, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT

    Larry Eustachy Larry Eustachy

    With three of their five seniors being front court players, Colorado State needs to add depth ahead of the 2015-16 season. Sunday’s commitment will help in this area.

  15. Led by senior forward Alan Williams, UCSB capable of earning first NCAA tournament bid since 2011

    Oct 19, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    UCSB's Alan Williams (AP Photo) AP

    Alan Williams gets most of the attention nationally, but he won’t be alone as the Gauchos look to rebound from last year’s disappointing finish.

  16. La Salle gets commitment from 2015 guard

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Wichita St. v La Salle Getty Images

    La Salle nabbed a talented combo guard.

  17. Kentucky center Dakari Johnson has lost 20 pounds

    Oct 19, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Dakari Johnson AP

    A more mobile Dakari Johnson could be a scary thought.