Lindsay Woolley has put Montana Western back in the national spotlight

Posted at 3:03 PM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-28 18:09:06-04

DILLON — Lindsay Woolley’s coaching career spawned from humble beginnings.

“I packed up everything I had in my car and drove to Miles City for, like, $2,000, a dorm room and a meal plan,” Woolley said.

From his time at Miles Community College and as the junior varsity head coach at his high school alma mater, Missoula Big Sky, it was ultimately his drive and determination that landed him the head coaching job at Montana Western.

Among the things that has made Woolley successful is his unwavering demeanor, to never be something he’s not.

“I just try to be myself, I think you have to. As a coach, if you try to be someone you’re not, your inauthentic and your players pick up on it pretty quickly,” said Woolley, who was named the NAIA women’s basketball coach of the year after leading the Bulldogs to the 2019 NAIA Division I national title.

His accolades speaks for themselves — a 135-88 career overall record, the 2019 NAIA coach of the year and a national championship. This year’s squad had a size disadvantage in nearly all of its games, but Woolley turned his guard-heavy team into a fast-paced scoring machine.

“What I found is we weren’t able to get first-team all-American-type big kids, and so, if we could find guards that could be that caliber of player, then we just had to build our system around those guards,” said Woolley.

If 2019 NAIA player of the year Brianna King didn’t prove that to be true this year, go back a couple seasons to when second-team all-American Aniese Palmore suited up for the Bulldogs. Palmore was a high-caliber player who, along with her teammates, planted the seed that sprouted Montana Western to the biggest stage.

“You can always go back to the kids who laid the groundwork, and that group of kids, Aniese’s first year, it would’ve been four season ago, was a really important group in terms of dedication and commitment and working extremely hard, even though they didn’t see it for kind of a year,” said Woolley.

The process paid off for the Bulldogs. Four years after finishing in last place in the Frontier Conference, Woolley and his team cut down the nets, helping put Montana Western back on the national radar.