WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Packard closing in on 50 wins
Coach reflects on time at Ball State, 50 win milestone
Prior to arriving in Muncie, Kelly Packard was unaccustomed to being a head coach at any level of intercollegiate women's basketball. She was, however, familiar with the system.
Packard spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Colorado State University, where the Rams posted a 99-49 overall record and appeared in two NCAA Tournaments. She was part of the staff that guided CSU to a 33-3 record in the 1998-99 season as the Rams claimed a No. 5 national ranking, a WAC Mountain Division title and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
Following her stint out west, Packard took the leap to the most prestigious level of women's basketball.
Packard was previously the executive director of the WNBA Expansion Team for Colorado, working for Triple Crown Sports. She spent two seasons as the coach of the Colorado Chill (2004-06). During her tenure, the Chill posted a 34-12 overall record and claimed back-to-back NWBL Championships.
Three years later, Packard was named the 10th coach in Ball State women's basketball history.
Her rookie year at Ball State was a Cinderella story. Packard guided Ball State to its third straight Mid-American Conference West Division title, its first MAC Tournament Championship and its first NCAA Tournament berth. She was the mastermind behind the Cardinals stunning 71-55 upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against the two-time defending national champions, the University of Tennessee.
Packard is in the midst of her third season at Ball State, just one win shy of becoming only the second coach in women's history to reach 50 wins in their third year.
"It's an interesting feeling because having collected 26 of those [wins] in one year makes that even possible," she said.
Packard said reaching the milestone isn't as important to her as many would assume.
"It's a significant thing when it comes to a numerical definition of [doing] a decent job of coaching," she said. "My reward, which I can't really count in numbers is just the interaction I get to have with these young girls."
Some coaches define their success by the wins and losses. What determines Packard's accomplishments lies in the daily lives of her team.
"I really define my success as to whether these young women are having a positive college experience, meaning am I creating an environment for them to come to each day that they love," she said. "If they're coming in here and winning 26 games a year but they're not having an enjoyable experience because the environment is not healthy, [then] 50 wins doesn't mean anything to me."