HELENA — Jolene Fuzesy Lloyd was deadly from 3-point range in both high school and during her time at Carroll College. She currently holds the record for 3-point percentage in the Montana High School Association record books as well as in NAIA Division I women's basketball. She also holds the Carroll College record for most career points scored with 2,067.
Fuzesy Lloyd grew up in Harlem before moving to Malta where she played volleyball and basketball. Following her volleyball season at Malta, Fuzesy Lloyd transferred to Havre, where she set the MHSA record for 3-point percentage her senior year. After graduating high school, Fuzesy Lloyd followed in the footsteps of her brother and became a Carroll College Fighting Saint. Fuzesy Lloyd quickly blazed her own trail as a part of Shawn Nelson's women's basketball team at Carroll.
After graduating, Fuzesy Lloyd moved to Lewistown, where she coached girls basketball for two years, before moving back to Helena and then Missoula, where she met her husband. Fuzesy Lloyd took a break from coaching to start a family and is now the junior varsity girls basketball coach for the Helena High Bengals and a well-revered realtor in the Helena area.
We caught up with the Montana basketball legend for this week's MontanaSports.com Sunday Conversation.
MTN SPORTS: Let's start from the beginning. You moved from Malta to Havre as you were going into your senior year, correct?
JOLENE FUZESY LLOYD: "Actually, I went, I finished my volleyball season at Malta, because I didn't want to leave that class and my coach. So it was -- after my junior year of basketball, it was kind of at the time, I was starting to fall, fall out of love with the game, and for different reasons. And my parents didn't understand that because I was getting up every morning still at 5 a.m. and sticking to the gym till 10 at night. And so they knew something had to change. And they know, they knew, who has now retired, Dennis Murphy over in Havre, who was the girls coach, and so they had this idea that I could go there. My brother was living there, and so my mom transferred over there with me. They kind of gave me that -- I didn't know, I don't know, I didn't know what was going to happen until it did. Then they kind of gave me that choice of staying for volleyball or not, and I, there was no doubt I was going to not stay. So I finished my volleyball, we didn't make it to state. We were the last team that had the chance to, but we didn't make it out. And I transferred that next Monday."
MTN SPORTS: So that was a pretty quick turnaround. Just so I've got this correct, you finished volleyball season, next Monday you transfer, and you're getting ready for basketball?
FUZESY LLOYD: "Mm-hmm. Started basketball the next day, or that Monday."
MTN SPORTS: So a quick turnaround in your senior year. However, you did pretty well, to put it lightly. You shot 53.6 percent from 3-point range. What would you say was kind of clicking for you? Was just a change of routine? Was it a was it just a change of scenery, what was the difference?
FUZESY LLOYD: "The green light and the confidence, all the confidence in the world. You have to imagine that that's something like that, going into a school that they already have an established team. I was nervous at first. But coach (Dennis) Murphy put that faith and confidence in me. It just clicked. And I, at Malta, I was put into the post position, and so, I think, that green light of actually allowing me to use the tools that I had worked on and had beyond the arc. So I think that was what the difference was there."
MTN SPORTS: Now that those tools that you're able to use beyond the arc, I'm assuming was one of the things that got you spotlighted by Carroll. Kind of tell me about that process. Were you getting any college looks before then? Or was it kind of your senior year at Havre where everything kind of clicked and some college coaches started to reach out?
FUZESY LLOYD: "Just because going to camps and things and then my numbers at Malta -- I don't know them off the top of my head, but I mean, I think they weren't bad, like points-wise. I was able to, as a freshman, play with Juliann (Keller) and that team to win, we won state as a freshman and I played on that team. Then sophomore, junior year, I produced numbers and I was highlighted, I guess, in a way, but I was reached out to, not by (NCAA Division I) schools by any means. Like the (University of Montana), they had their -- I had a pretty solid class that I went to, like in Montana -- so they all were signed pretty much as juniors or even probably talking to them younger than that. But then, yeah, all the Frontier (Conference) schools and then some of the other state ones, as well. But my brother went to Carroll and so I fell in love with like the people then when he went when I was going to be an eighth grader. And so I kind of had that little bit of that little angle there. Coach Nelson had taken over. Coach (Jim) Gross was a coach for a while and then Coach Shawn Nelson took over and kind of changed the way they operated and it was a lot of 3-point blocker movers stuff that I was interested in. So I kind of narrowed it down there once I saw that happening during my senior year, because my senior year was his first year as the coach."
MTN SPORTS: So you started at Carroll in 2004 and graduated in 2008. In that time period, you shot 51.6 percent from 3-point range; 464 of almost 900 attempts, 899; for 2,062 points, good for the record of most points made by any Carroll women's basketball player. When you hear that, what immediately comes to your mind?
FUZESY LLOYD: "I think of the teams that I played on and all the girls I got to play with, but all the hard work that I put in. The hours in the gym, countless hours, but there’s still a little combo of that, just the whole experience at Carroll and meeting the people that I've got to meet and form relationships with. Winning with them and losing with them and going through the times I did and then, yeah, just like on a personal note, like the hard work. You know, you don't always -- that's not why you do it, right? Like you do it because you love it, but that it's kind of one of those things. It's neat to hear them when you say it out loud like that."
MTN SPORTS: You spent four years there and I know it can be pretty hard to narrow it down to one thing, but if you had to pick one memory from your time as a Fighting Saint, what would be your best memory?
FUZESY LLOYD: "I think by -- just off the top -- well, going to (NAIA national tournament) every year, that's been one of my one memories. I think beating (Lewis and Clark) State my junior year because we had just such a, we had lost some great girls going into my junior year and had some new transfers, and putting that team together that year to have the success we did, I think beating them at the tournament was probably one of my favorite memories. (Pauses) Ahhhh … although, beating (Montana State) by like 20 was pretty cool, too. But yeah, I think the championship. (laughs)"
MTN SPORTS: No shortage of fond memories, and it shows you have a share in, you at least have a share in, I believe it was seven or eight records -- most games played, most points, most field goals made at 672. Now that brings me to my next question: 672 shots made, 464 of them were 3-pointers.
FUZESY LLOYD: "(Laughs) I never really looked at that."
MTN SPORTS: Was that the kind of the game plan for you, just get you the ball beyond the arc and let you drain 3s?
FUZESY LLOYD: "That was the offense that we ran, which it was a great offense. You think that people would figure it out, and they did in certain ways. I think that was a lot of our -- I mean, if you were to look at our teams during that time, we shot a lot of 3s and so that reflects there -- but yeah, I didn't go in until my, I think it was my junior year, I started to create a middle game and that's probably where most of those came, junior, senior year. Because I had to be more than just a 3-point shooter. At that point we as people kind of started to figure out that she's going to shoot it if she's got a little bit of space so that's probably where that came in."
MTN SPORTS: You have, I believe, it's also the record for most shots attempted. The one thing that kind of stuck out to me, though, 899 3-point attempts. Do you wish in your final game that you just thrown up one more just to say that you had 900, or is that not even a thought?
FUZESY LLOYD: "I have to tell you, so I think it was a for a while there I was three short of the most made record in the nation, because I have the 3-point percentage in the nation, but I was three short of the most made and so I do think of some of the (referrees) that called travels on some of those shots or the screen away from the ball that got called a foul, those kind of, but no I don't. Because I would have messed (with my percentage) -- well, unless I would have made them, I guess that would have helped it."
MTN SPORTS: There's a lot of think back and there's a lot that you wish you could change, but is there anything that you would have changed about your time at Carroll college?
FUZESY LLOYD: "I think just a little bit. Just being more serious about it. Like looking back -- you know, and that's what I as a coach try to tell my girls like, you know, you only have this much time. So give it your best effort -- I think there was times, you know, when you're in it and you’re whining around and you're tired. So sometimes like, I wish I could go back and leave more on the court, I guess. That's what I as a coach try to do and teach my girls, because you only get a little bit of time and then it's over forever, and you don't realize it when you're in it, right? You take that for granted. And so I think about me now, if I could go back I would say, maybe do all 10 of your reps instead of nine, or you know, or whatever that looks like."
MTN SPORTS: So, graduate in 2008, what was that like for you? What was post-college life like for you?
FUZESY LLOYD: "I fell in love with basketball, like when I was probably a fifth grader, and anyone you talked to that knew or was around me, the first thing they probably think of, remember about me was me shooting around in the gym or playground. A gym rat, is pretty much the saying. But when they are done with that and you play your last game, and you're kind of figuring it out. I don't want to try to compare myself to, like, a soldier, for instance, that's coming back. But it's like, 'OK, now figure out life without basketball,' because it was so much a big part of my life. It was hard. It was really hard there. But I mean, I got it. I had real life, so I got a job in Lewistown, and then I was able to jump right into coaching. So that helped kind of stay around it. But it was hard for me to come back for a while just because it was such a big part of my life, Carroll was. It was tough in that way psychologically, because I didn't ever think it was going to be done. And then it was done, the playing part of it. You know, you'd get to go back and play in tournaments and stuff, but it's just not the same as that. I had got a job right out of college and was in Lewistown for two years, and then was able to coach then. To continue, I then came back to Helena. And then while I was here, I met my husband in Missoula, because I went to get my master's. And then I was only there for like 10 months, and we came back to raise our family here. We’ve been back since end of 2013."
MTN SPORTS: That actually brings me to my next question. Why come back to Helena? I know that sounds like a bad thing, but I guess my question is, you spent so much of your life here, especially as a young adult, why come back?
FUZESY LLOYD: "Because it was one of the, and I remember saying and I was 20 coming back over the pass coming back from Missoula just going to see friends, and it's been the only place I've ever considered my home. I grew up in Harlem. When I was 10, we moved to Malta, then that transfer to Havre for a short stint and then to Helena. Helena, Havre, Harlem, that’s a lot of H's. Anyway, it's been the only place that I've ever really considered home. Like, this is my home. So when we had our children, I knew I wanted to raise my family here and kind of make our life here, plant our roots. So that's why, and then my folks, it didn't hurt that my folks had moved here while I was going to college, so I did have that little bit of grounding here in Helena."
MTN SPORTS: Tell me about family life? You met your husband in Missoula, you guys moved back here. How's married life been?
FUZESY LLOYD: "Great! I love it. I have a really great partner, a teammate (laughs) is what we call each other. We're a good team. But yeah, I love it. We have a 7-, 5- and 3-year-old and own a home close to work and he works for Carroll, which is really neat. We don't see ourselves leaving Helena anytime soon. But yeah, I love married life. I recommend it, if you find yourself a ‘Kyle.’"
MTN SPORTS: You get the call a little over a decade after you finish your playing career at Carroll College that you're going to be inducted into the Carroll College Hall of Fame in 2019. I was at that game. It was against Montana State-Northern where they brought all you guys out at halftime. What was that experience like?
FUZESY LLOYD: "Surreal, because you don't think about. Again, it's one of those things you don't think about when you're playing the game you love and the sport you love with the people that you love, you don't think about that. It was really neat to come back and celebrate with people. A lot of the people that were being inducted were all there when I was there for the majority of successful teams at Carroll while I was there. So, it was very neat to catch up and celebrate each other and our accomplishments and reminisce and hear from players I haven't heard from in, you know five, six, seven years that reached out. A lot couldn’t make it, because of the timing, you know the time of year it is and living, but a lot that reached out and supported. It was really, it was neat to be, I guess, celebrated for that. Even though that's not -- again -- why you do it. Then to do it with coach (Mike) Van Diest was really neat as well, because he was one of my mentors."
MTN SPORTS: So moving from Carroll College to post-college, you said you coached in Lewistown and now you’ve started coaching at Helena High. You started the position as a JV coach in 2017 after Brandon Day left to go coach the boys. What was the process? What was the thought process behind moving to that position?
FUZESY LLOYD: "Because I had been away from coaching since I was pregnant with our first one. So when I accepted the position, coach (Eric) Peterson and I, we go back to, well, Carroll days, and then I coached with him when I had come back to Helena there for that one year or that little stint. I coached with him and coach (Jason) Murgel on the girls team. So we had reconnected then and then when I came back, he knew I was back in town and that I was looking to eventually get into coaching. They had a position open, and I didn't know what position that I was agreeing to apply for, when I was giving birth -- I was literally giving birth, like in between contractions and he called me and I'm like, 'Oh, wow!' (laughs) Anyway. So, I think just the timing, like I knew I was done having children and I knew I wanted my children to be around the sport like I was brought up as a coach's daughter. So that's a big reason, like how we were able to, how I was able to fall in love and be around the sport. So I knew I wanted them to be in, so I think that transition, maybe it was a little early like a year early maybe, but it was perfect timing. And it's been great. I was a little sad when (Peterson) left last year, but bouncing back."
MTN SPORTS: You come into that position midway through the Bengals' three-peat run. You got a chance to coach some of the players on that JV squad that eventually were able to win a state championship. What knowledge are you able to impart on those players that would eventually go on to be the top of the top Class AA?
FUZESY LLOYD: "I think a lot. I mean, to go on, I guess, a broader scale, like just a lot of the guard positioning. Then to get more specific, I think just the hard work part of, like, to teach hard work and kind of carry out to, that's one of the things like I think I brought to the program, was them seeing what how hard I work in my day-to-day life and that you have to do that to have success. I try to carry that out to them on the court, too, so that they could understand you don't give up, you don't take days off, you come ready to go and when you fall, you get back up. That's kind of a more deeper thing, but I do think I brought some of my knowledge from playing and just like my basketball knowledge, as well."
MTN SPORTS: Do you still get recognized in town?
FUZESY LLOYD: "Yeah, it's really neat when sometimes, like, because my husband will be like, 'So many people know you,' when I don't think like that, like I don't. Like people, like realtors that I will bring an offer and they'll be like, 'I remember watching you.' But yeah, it makes your day when you're walking in the store, at a baseball game, that someone's like, 'I used to love watching you play,' and it makes you smile because I love that game so much."
MTN SPORTS: What does the future look like for you?
FUZESY LLOYD: "Like I said, we planted our roots here. We have a few, I mean we kind of, we’re in the rental business as well, so we have some rental homes. So, I mean, we want to stay in Helena. I don't ever see myself leaving. Obviously in the winter some days. (laughs) I mean, just keep the real estate up and hopefully my kids maybe become little Saints as well, and I would like to continue coaching for as long as I can. I always joke because I’m at Helena High but we live on the (Helena) Capital side and all my kids are going to go to or go to (Four Georgians), so to me, a weird transition if that ever happens, but until then I'm a Helena High coach, and we'll see."