|Kelly Rae Finley
BOULDER — Kelly Rae Finley has been named an assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of Colorado, head coach Linda Lappe announced on Friday.
Finley takes over for Jennie Baranczyk who resigned in April to become head coach at Drake University. She will serve as Colorado’s recruiting coordinator and will also coach the Buffaloes’ forwards.
Finley, 27, joins Colorado after spending four years on the staff at Harvard University (2008-12); the last three as a full-time assistant coach. The Crimson posted a 75-41 mark in her four seasons in Cambridge including four second place Ivy League finishes – a record of 42-14 - and three Postseason WNIT appearances.
“I think I’m going to be able to learn a lot from Linda, she’s a great coach and is somebody that every day makes you want to be your best,” Finley said. “The opportunity to coach with someone like that on top of the rest of the staff, and at a great university, I don’t know how you could pass it up.”
At Harvard, Finley was the recruiting coordinator, signing a class in 2011 that was ranked 31st in the nation by ESPN including the Ivy League’s first McDonald’s All-American in Temi Fagbenle. She coached 12 All-Ivy League players and coordinated player development with an emphasis on the forward position.
“She has an enthusiastic mindset to attract and recruit some of the best student-athletes in the nation has had great success in doing so,” Lappe said. “However, what will impress people the most about Kelly is her character, integrity, loyalty, and genuine nature in which she carries herself daily. We are happy she is on board.”
|Kelly Rae Finley coached 12 All-Ivy League players at Harvard
-Photo courtesy Harvard Athletic Communications
Off the court Finley was Harvard women’s basketball’s liaison for equipment management, community outreach coordinator and was an active participant at alumni events. She was a Harvard Faculty Affiliate with the Leverett House, an upperclass dorm. Finley also continued her education with graduate studies in organizational leadership & non-profit management through the Harvard University Extension School.
“It’s hard to lose a coach like Kelly who has been so valuable to our program over the last several years,” Harvard head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “She has a great opportunity to coach with one of her mentors and I know Colorado will be a great experience for her. She has been loved and respected by everyone here in the Harvard community.”
Finley graduated cum laude from Colorado State University in 2008 with her bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies. She was a two-year letterwinner for the Rams and was a Mountain West Conference Scholar-Athlete Award winner in 2008. Finley began her collegiate career at Northwestern University where she lettered in 2004-05.
“I want our players to get their degrees,” Finley said. “(They’re) going to spend four years here and after that you want to make sure you are very well prepared for the rest of your life; basketball won’t last forever.
“At Colorado you have a great school and you’re going to have great basketball at a very high level and a chance to be successful in both regards.”
She was involved with Boys and Girls Clubs of Fort Collins and Chicago as well as a representative on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
A native of Minneapolis, Finley was a three-year team captain for The Breck School, helping her team to a Minnesota Class 2A State Championship in 2004, runner-up finish in 2003 and a third-place showing in 2002. Her AAU team, the Minnesota Metro Stars won the Nike Showcase championship in Chicago in 2003.
Finley began her coaching career in her native state, as an assistant with her former AAU team from 2005-07. She coached the 12U, 13U and 16U teams, developing game schemes and practice plans while assisting with tournament organization and coordination. Finley also served as the MN Hardball basketball camp director from 2007-08, engaged in all aspects of the organization’s functions.
“Kelly will be an integral part of where we head in the future both on the floor and as our recruiting coordinator and we’re excited to have her in the Buff family,” said Lappe, who coached Finley as an assistant at CSU in 2006-07.