Meet Robyn Fralick, Michigan State University’s New Women’s Basketball Head Coach
Bringing with her a proven track record of success and program building, Robyn Fralick is Michigan State's new women's basketball head coach. Fralick becomes the sixth coach in Spartan women's basketball history.
“I was born in Sparrow Hospital. We just drove by that the other day. I graduated from Okemos High School in 2000. I was born and raised here and have family here. It’s a wonderful place to grow up. I have so many good memories, and to come back feels a little surreal. It's been interesting, even as we look for houses and places to live. There's a lot of nostalgia. Obviously, I've been back to Okemos a good amount with my family being here, but I've been back as a visitor. Now I'll be back as a community member’ it’s pretty cool for it to come full circle.”
What attracted you back to the lead the MSU program?
“I feel so fortunate for the opportunity. Suzy's been the head coach for the past 16 years and has done a wonderful, fabulous job. And for the opportunity to come about at this time in my coaching career just feels really fortunate.”
What are some of your immediate short-term goals and some longer-range ones you're thinking about?
“Short term is all about people. You've really got to get to know the kids and get your staff. We're right now in the process of getting the staff here and then getting everyone on the same page on what we're about. But that does take time because right now I think the roster is evolving. Who's here? Who's leaving? Who's coming in? Long-term is getting all the people under the same expectations, system, and guidelines. I've done this before. I'm actually having flashbacks. I remember when I went from Ashland to Bowling Green. I remember all the sort of transitional energy that goes into the change. But it's really exciting. And so far, the kids I have been able to meet with have been great.”
What are some challenges and opportunities you see?
“A challenge is always in the newness when you're taking over a team and teaching a new system and teaching a new way of doing things. I think that always takes time. And I always say the trust piece is so important and it'd be ridiculous of us to think that that just happens with a magic wand. I love to say trust is built. It's not built in a day. It's built every day. And so that's going to be two-way with staff and players. Getting on the same page takes time, but it's an exciting piece of it. Trust is fast to lose and slow to earn. You can't speed that process up, but we can invest in it every day.”
Women’s college basketball has never been more popular. How has the game evolved over your time in it? And where do you think it's headed?
“There are more opportunities. We've been able to play since we were younger. We've had higher level opportunities. So, the quality's been better. The players are better. When there's a better product, there are more eyes on it. And then when the product continues to be so fun to watch, people keep coming back. Title IX's been a big piece of it, and we're continuing to stay in pursuit of more opportunities. And through that, I think we've all seen what it looks like when girls get a chance and when girls also are on TV.”
What about the whole world of intercollegiate athletics? We hear about name, image and likeness and the transfer portal. What’s your assessment and where do you see it all going?
“It’s part of our world. And I think to think anything different is a bit naive. Adapt and embrace. And yet I still also believe that the things that matter always matter. That won't change. I was a Division II coach for 10 years. I was at Bowling Green for the past five. And the things that make a quality experience don't change - true relationships, a culture people want to be part of, expectations, standards, being able to help, and being able to provide support. Those things really make an experience. And then the added resources are a bonus and they're part of it. And I think it's really cool. But I've coached really happy kids at DII where we drove a van and ate Subway because they were part of something. And I think the things that matter like feeling part of something and staying in pursuit of something together really matter.
“I'd love to have the community come out. I think such a big piece of a student athlete experience is having a crowd that cares and having a student section and an engaged community. And I know that's twofold. I know we have a real responsibility to get into the community and give back to the community. And I always say, you cheer a little differently when you know the kids, right? You cheer a little differently when you really know them and know who they are. I want Breslin to be the ultimate home court advantage.
“I've always operated under five core values. I call them the traveling core values when they become really part of a team, and I know that takes time. You see a connected team. You see a spirited and a competitive together team. And that's going to be what we're going to work really hard towards is playing in a way that is inspiring. I always think people are drawn to a team that has that sort of spirit. We're going to work hard to get that.”
What are your five core values?
“Be a great teammate. That's trendy and easy to say but is actually really hard to do. But when you can do it, your whole experience changes. And our second one is manners matter. We get so many opportunities. We can do so many cool things and we want to make sure we're operating out of gratitude instead of entitlement. Our third one is trust, an important piece for an experience and a career. And then toughness. It's literally how we play. I've never, in all my years of coaching, coached a kid who finished their career and thought, ‘Oh, that was just so easy.’ Even the absolute best players I've coached on the best teams have peaks and valleys through a season. There are peaks and valleys through a career. To think anything differently is really naive. There's a toughness piece to the endurance of a career. That’s how we’ll play. And then our last one is commitment, which is central to doing anything well.”