A woman who learned basketball from her high school coaching father has been tapped to head the Lady Longhorn hoop program.
Kelly Kreig takes over for Stacy Anderson who resigned in the spring to accompany her husband, Josh, to Dakota State University where he is the school’s new football coach.
For Kreig, being named the PHS coach is a dream come true.
“My goal has always been to be a head coach, and to be one in a place like Payson is unbelievable,” she said. “I feel really fortunate and I’m excited.”
In addition to coaching the Lady Longhorns, Kreig will assume Stacy Anderson’s vacated physical education teaching position.
Kreig previously taught physical education at Yuma Kofa High School serving there from 2005 until she resigned in the spring to move to Payson.
Her teaching duties at Kofa included freshman girls physical education for one year, freshman coed PE for two years and ninth- to 12th-grade girls aerobics for one school year.
Among her educational accomplishments was to implement the PACER cardiovascular endurance test as a way to measure students’ physical fitness and to start a reward system to reduce the number of “non dressed” students.
On her resume, Kreig says her goal is to produce “a healthy and active learning environment where students learn the importance and develop an appreciation of physical fitness.”
At Kofa, she was also the junior varsity girls basketball coach.
Kreig, who calls Minnesota her home, graduated in 2005 from University of Wisconsin Superior University with a 3.50 GPA and as a member of the dean’s list.
At UWS, she played basketball for four years and her senior season was captain of the team.
Kreig primarily played point guard during her tenure with the Yellow Jackets.
Prior to attending UWS, she played high school basketball in Minnesota on a team coached by her father, Larry.
“I played for him three out of four (high school) years and I learned a lot,” she said. “He taught me much of what I know — we are sort of a basketball family.”
As the Lady Longhorns new coach, Kreig will stress the fundamentals of the game including defense and rebounding.
Kreig says she favors running a set offense over the run and gun, fast break style of play, but will fashion both her “O” and “D” on the skills and talents of her players.
Payson High School assistant principal Tim Fruth, once the Lady Longhorn head coach, lauds Kreig as a coach who can successfully mold individuals into a team that will represent PHS well and be competitive in the rugged 3A East Region.
“What we like about her is she’s highly energetic,” he said. “She’s been in the trenches — she’s earned the right to step up and have her own program.”
The new coach took the PHS job knowing that the program was losing all the core players from the past three seasons.
“Those teams had a lot of talent, but now they’ve (graduated) and we must replace them,” Kreig said.
Among those who graduated last spring are Christina Deaton, Cydney Figueroa, Kayla Morgan, Jenna Robertson and Rose Hardt. The five led PHS last season to a 24-7 record, the East Region championship and into the state tournament where PHS was eliminated by Monument Valley 47-46.
Deaton, Figueroa, Robertson and Morgan were varsity starters since their sophomore seasons and recipients of numerous postseason awards. As a senior, Deaton was a prestigious All-American nominee.
Knowing what faces her as the new coach, Kreig says she doesn’t want to use the term “rebuilding,” but understands she will have the challenge of remaking a team with players who have very little varsity experience.
She says she’s determined to scour the campus to find student athletes who have the heart, desire and motivation to play the sport passionately.
She didn’t want to single out any promising players, but several underclassmen last season showed they might have what it takes to be varsity contributors. They include Rylee Halenar, Kelsey Waugh Jordan Klabbatz, Maddie Nossek and Katie Welker.
The process of putting together a team for next season began weeks ago when Kreig arrived in Payson to host evening open gym sessions.
Next on her agenda is to fill out her coaching staff. Thus far she’s enlisted the services of Rim Country Middle School assistant principal and athletic director Yvette Harpe to coach the freshmen.
“I’m still looking for a jayvee coach,” Kreig said.
If there is a real positive in Kreig’s new coaching job, it is that she has more than three months to acclimate herself to the school, lay plans for the program and meet and evaluate prospective players.
“As a first-year head coach, that’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to,” she said.