As a freshman at Kaneland in the 2002-03 season, Kelsey Flanagan missed six weeks of the season with a fractured wrist but recovered to score 17 points in a season-ending regional loss to Sycamore.
Flanagan had been an impact player for the Knights. And now she’ll look to lead Kaneland with the clipboard, as she’s been named the new girls basketball coach.
She replaces Ernie Colombe, who took over the boys team. Flanagan had served as an assistant for Colombe for nine years.
“I’m real happy for Kelsey,” Colombe said. “She is a hard worker with great character. Kelsey will be an excellent role model for the girls in the Kaneland community. I was lucky to have her on the staff for many years and look forward to watching her teams play.”
After graduating from DePauw, Flanagan began as a volunteer coach at Kaneland for a couple of years before being hired as an assistant. She set some personal goals – and becoming a head coach was one of them.
“I try to set short- and long-term goals in my mind, and I had a five-year plan to be a head coach within the next five years,” said Flanagan, a social studies teacher at Kaneland. “So it’s a little more than a couple years after that goal was in my mind, but it was definitely something Ernie knew, and he created an opportunity and more responsibilities for me. So I got a little taste of it, so I’m very grateful for him and that opportunity.”
Kaneland truly is Flanagan’s home.
“When I was going through the interview process and I realized how long I’ve been involved with the program as a coach and then added my time as a player, and it’s half of my life,” Flanagan said. “It’s kind of crazy to think about it that way, but it’s also really special to me to take over this program.”
Flanagan’s most successful season as a player was her junior year in 2004-05. The Knights (27-3) won 21 straight games before coming up short against Candace Parker and eventual state champion Naperville Central in a sectional final.
Like Flanagan, Lyndsie Long had a lot to do with Kaneland’s success during that era. Long, who is the head girls basketball coach at Downers Grove South, said it’s great for Kaneland to choose her friend for the role.
“I’m proud and happy that she has the opportunity to be head of the program,” Long said. “She’s always had an amazing basketball IQ, and I know she will fill the role very well. I wish her and her team all the success.”
Junior Kelsey Modaff, one of the key returners this winter, was excited to hear the news about her new head coach being a former Knights player and a familiar face.
“I’m really excited to see where coach takes the program and to see how far the team will go this season,” Modaff said. “It’ll be a fresh and exciting start, and I can’t wait to have fun while working to see where we will go. I’m really happy for her.”
Look for a lot of things to stay the same. The Knights were 199-166 in Colombe’s 13 seasons.
“Winning is always the goal, but it’s not always the most important thing,” Flanagan said. “I really focus on emphasizing the building of the relationships between myself and the players and each other. And I think that’s a big part of the Kaneland community where we get great support from our parents. We’re all kind of working toward the same things.”