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'Dream come true': Missoula native Joslyn Tinkle ready to begin coaching career with Montana Lady Griz

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Posted at 6:43 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 20:43:12-04

MISSOULA — Joslyn Tinkle can't quite pinpoint the last time she walked around Dahlberg Arena in Griz attire.

There's too many memories to count from when her father, Wayne Tinkle, was an assistant and eventually head coach of the men's program as Tinkle and her siblings, Tres and Elle, were all growing up in Missoula.

Now, more memories are sure to come in the near future for the eldest sibling out of the trio.

Joslyn Tinkle was officially hired as an assistant coach for the Montana Lady Griz back on June 11, a big splash for new head coach Brian Holsinger that created a lot of excitement for Montana basketball fans. She now coaches in a program where her mother, Great Falls native Lisa (McLeod) Tinkle, once starred.

"I was so excited at the opportunity to be able to share my experiences and help give back as best I can to these young women here wearing Lady Griz jerseys," Tinkle told MTN Sports. "I'm pumped, this is a dream come true.

"It feels a little surreal and I'm at a loss of words. I'm driving in downtown Missoula and it looks a lot different, things have changed, but I just couldn't be happier being back home."

Wayne Tinkle, Elle Tinkle, Joslyn Tinkle, Lisa Tinkle, Tres Tinkle
Montana head basketball coach Wayne Tinkle, right, poses for a photograph with his daughters, Gonzaga's Elle Tinkle (31) and Stanford's Joslyn Tinkle, second from right, his wife Lisa, left, and son Tres after an NCAA college basketball game in Spokane, Wash., Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. Stanford won 69-41. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Tinkle is one of the most decorated basketball players, male or female, to come from Montana. She joins the Lady Griz after spending her post-playing career working at various jobs in Portland.

Coaching was something Tinkle told MTN Sports she was weighing back in early 2020, with an AAU coaching opportunity in hand before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States. During her time in Portland, she also started up a youth basketball organization for students between 3rd and 12th grade.

But she had one major priority to finish before pursuing her own coaching career.

"For me, the main priority was waiting until I watched Tres play for my dad (at Oregon State)," Tinkle said. "So when he graduated that’s when my interest kind of kicked in and I was pursuing things and trying to have those conversations but then obviously COVID happened so it put a wrench in things."

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Oregon State's Tres Tinkle (3) hugs his sister Joslyn Tinkle following his last home NCAA college basketball game against California in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)

So this last spring when jobs began to open up, Tinkle said she began looking at jobs seriously again and waited for the right opportunity which she ultimately found at UM.

"I was chomping at the bit and potential opportunity of being here," Tinkle said. "So when it all kind of fell into place I knew this was the exact fit for me. Coming back home was what excited me most."

Tinkle's new job with the Lady Griz signifies her first college coaching gig, but it doesn't come without good mentors.

Joslyn Tinkle
Stanford's Joslyn Tinkle celebrates after defeating Duke in the second half of an NCAA women's tournament regional final college basketball game Monday, March 26, 2012, in Fresno, Calif. Stanford won 81-69. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

Wayne Tinkle recently led Oregon State to the Elite 8 of the men's NCAA Tournament, and Joslyn's college coach at Stanford, Tara VanDerveer, is the winningest coach in women's college basketball history.

Plus her new colleagues in Brian Holsinger, Jordan Sullivan and Nate Harris, who all bring their varying and vast coaching experiences to the table.

"One of the reasons I was most excited to join this staff was great people," Tinkle said. "I'm joining great people that would have my back and help me learn. I'm a rookie here so yeah coming in here I was a little nervous. I was excited because I knew that I could help and would be able to make an impact right away and bring my experience and knowledge from over the years."

Tara VanDerveer, Joslyn Tinkle
Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, left, talks with forward Joslyn Tinkle in the second half of Stanford's 57-40 victory over Colorado in an NCAA college basketball game in Boulder, Colo., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Under Vanderveer, Tinkle played for four seasons and started as a junior and senior for the Cardinal. With Stanford, Tinkle went to three Final Fours as well as one national championship game. After her playing days at Stanford, Tinkle played briefly in the WNBA with Seattle before finishing out her playing career overseas.

"Now not only am I just talking hoops or catching up with dad it’s ‘hey, help me with this’ and we’re sharing coaching tips and then Tara, and she’s been really really helpful too and even in this process of me getting into coaching. I would hope and I’d like to think that I had my ears open and absorbed some things during my time because she’s an incredible coach, she’s the best."

"Coaching is about people and she has things you can't teach as far as people," Holsinger added about his hiring of Tinkle. "She's so dynamic, she loves people, she's someone who has done a normal job. Coaching is not a normal job. So she knows what that was like and now she's like, 'That's not my passion. My passion is people and basketball.' And that's what this is.

Joslyn Tinkle, Amber Harris
Seattle Storm's Joslyn Tinkle (31) reaches for the ball as Minnesota Lynx's Amber Harris defends in the second half of a WNBA basketball game Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Seattle. The Lynx won 73-60. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

"The other thing is she just comes from a family of basketball. She's been around college coaches her whole life because of her dad so there's some experience in there that's really valuable too."

Now, like her playing career, Tinkle begins her coaching career in Missoula.

And if it's anything like her time on the court when she won two Gatorade Player of the Year awards and back-to-back Class AA state titles with Big Sky, big things could be in store for Tinkle and the Lady Griz.

"This program raised me, this community raised me," Tinkle said. "It feels a little bit just weird in the best way to be wearing this Lady Griz shirt right now and walking down to Dahlberg and working out with these now Lady Griz players."