MISSOULA — After 38 seasons and 865 wins as head coach of the Montana women’s basketball team, Robin Selvig announced his retirement in 2016.
Selvig led the Lady Griz to 36 winning seasons, including 31 20-win seasons, 24 conference championships and 21 NCAA tournament appearances. He earned conference coach of the year 21 times.
Since retiring, the Outlook native has transitioned to fan, watching the Lady Griz and other Montana athletic programs from the stands. Selvig has taken up new hobbies, like golf, and spent time traveling. He recently sat down with MTN Sports to discuss traveling and his golf game, as well as reflect on his time as the coach of the Lady Griz.
MTN Sports: Well, Coach, it’s been probably more than a year since you and I sat down. How’s retirement been in that past year?
Robin Selvig: “It’s been good, enjoying a lot of things. Enjoying my family a little more since they’re not in town, and I get to run and see them. I’m starting to lose some of the gray, I think, so it’s been pretty good. Things I miss, but things I don’t.”
MTN Sports: When we sat down with you last time, you were talking about being able to get to see your family more. Have you been doing a lot of traveling and being able to get out and about since you don’t have to worry about the day-to-day grind at UM?
Selvig: “Yeah, it’s just a lot easier. I only have one granddaughter, but they’re in (Los Angeles), and so get down there. Son in San Francisco and of course my parents still live in Outlook, Montana, and a lot easier to get up there and help out around the house a little bit, so all those are good things.”
MTN Sports: How about here in Missoula? I know you’re a big-time golfer. Have you been out on the courses a little bit?
Selvig: “I’m not really a big-time golfer, but I took golf up again and play a lot, got a great group of guys I play with. Thought I’d do better, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ll look forward to next year.”
MTN Sports: Any good stories on the golf course yet?
Selvig: “Mike Marbut got a hole-in-one. He’s one of group, we play in the mornings, so I got to witness a hole-in-one. I haven’t had a hole-in-one; I did hit the green once, but it was fun to see that.”
MTN Sports: Any good books, any good movies, anything else you’re enjoying in retirement?
Selvig: “Some series that I’ve watched. Hadn’t watched any ‘Game of Thrones,’ and then watched seven seasons of that in about two days. Read some books, like historical fiction. Keeping busy enough. Of course I get down and follow the Grizzly team still, so there’s plenty to do.”
MTN Sports: I was going to ask about that. How much involvement — I know you’re not there day to day, but how much does coach Shannon Schweyen and that team maybe pick your brain every now and then? Do you get to talk to the team at all?
Selvig: “Oh, I bump into them sometimes, but I pretty much, it’s not my deal anymore, and they’re doing a good job. It’s fun to follow. I don’t think I missed a home game last year. Don’t know about this year with travel and how many I’ll see, but fun to follow. Miss being around the young kids. I always said, ‘They keep you young,’ so I’m probably aging fast.”
MTN Sports: Shannon had such a difficult first year with all the injuries and everything. What have you seen in her time there as far as her development as a head coach?
Selvig: “I think she’s doing a good job. The first year was a tough one, when you lose those two seniors. There was a pretty good team returning, but they recruited good, young kids. It’s the nature of coaching: Sometimes there is a little luck involved, staying healthy, things like that. That’s why coaches don’t sleep well sometimes, you always have something to worry about. She’s got a fun group, and they play hard. I caught their exhibition game the other day, I think they’re going to be pretty good.”
MTN Sports: How hard is it for you sit up in the stands? Are you muttering under your breath or anything like that?
Selvig: “I did a little bit to start with, but I don’t anymore. It’s hard, but the thing that wears you out over the years is all the emotional involvement, and I’ve tried to just not be emotionally involved. Like I said, to start with, ‘Take a charge, somebody,’ and that. But not really anymore. I just pull for them.”
MTN Sports: So you’ve successfully transitioned from ex-coach to fan?
Selvig: “I really have. It was a good run with a lot of great kids. Enjoyed the heck out of it, but I’m finding there’s some other things in life that I can put more attention to that are important. I have no regrets.”
MTN Sports: Now that you have had a few years to maybe reflect on it and think about it, what’s some of the biggest takeaways from your time as the coach of the Lady Griz?
Selvig: “I just think I feel real fortunate. I just said a little bit ago, there’s a lot of luck involved. I had a lot of good players. We won some championships with a shot here, a shot there, things like that, and you just feel fortunate about that. But the main thing is, and the most important thing was, I really enjoyed all the ladies I coached. They were fun to be around, they were great competitors. Whether we won or lost, I think it added a lot to my life.”
MTN Sports: With the athletic program at UM, there’s a ton of success, whether it’s with men’s basketball, the women’s soccer team, the softball team, volleyball’s on the upswing. How much fun is it just to be able to kind of sit back, and not be right in the middle of it, but be able to watch that and enjoy that success from the outside?
Selvig: “It’s really fun to follow. There’s some really good people down in our athletic department and really good coaches. Softball’s been fun to watch grow. I grew up playing fast-pitch softball, and watching that program, the beautiful place there. Look what soccer did this year. That’s the nature of sports: You’re going to have some times where you feel great, and there’s going to be disappointment. That is what it’s all about. There’s people down there that are leading things in the right way. It’s not all about whether you win or lose, that’s for sure. I think they’re definitely doing a good job.”
MTN Sports: We’re recording this the day before Cat-Griz. What is that weekend like for the other coaches, the non-football programs, at Cat-Griz?
Selvig: “It’s exciting. You used to want to have recruits in that weekend, because it’s a heck of a thing. Unfortunately, a lot of times we were on the road, because we’d always already started our season, so you’re getting scores. You can pick something up now, but it used to be you’re following Gametracker or something, trying to keep up with scores. It’s just exciting. The thing about it in Montana, which we had lots of Montana kids, they had lots of Montana kids, from all over the state, people are interested. I think it’s a healthy thing, and I don’t want it to ever be not healthy. They have good kids, we have good kids. You want to have the bragging rights thing, but the experience for the athletes to compete in it is the main thing. It’s just a lot of fun.”
MTN Sports: You obviously worked alongside coach Bobby Hauck for a while when you guys were both at UM. What was your reaction when he got hired back to coach the football program?
Selvig: “When they made a change, which is always hard for me — you never like to see somebody lose their job — I was excited Bobby was coming back. I mean, Bobby’s the epitome of a Montana coach. He obviously had great success here. He’s obviously a great coach, but he loves this state, he loves the University of Montana. He’s a great a fit for this job. It’s been fun to get him back and say hi now and then and pull for him. They’re doing a great job. I think they’re pretty good. As every season goes, ‘Oh, if we would’ve just done this and that, we could’ve won that one.’ Every coach sits there and does that.”
MTN Sports: Outlook, Montana, eastern Montana, Cats or Griz fans over there?
Selvig: “It’s pretty divided. I think when I was growing up, there was probably more the other way. But there’s been so many eastern Montana comes here, not only come here, but play here in basketball, in all the sports. So it’s pretty even. I think it’s probably that way most way around the state. That’s what makes it such a huge rivalry.”
MTN Sports: You’re far enough removed now, was there ever a time before you were a Griz that you rooted for the Cats?
Selvig: “No. But when I was growing up, interesting … almost where we grew up there was western Montana and eastern Montana, you didn’t even follow that close. Missoula was a big city when I came here. It was like, ‘Oh.’ It wasn’t, I don’t think, followed that close at that time over there. But certainly for a lot of years, it’s been that way.”