Insell's passion remains the same as MTSU women's coach

MTSU's Rick Insell will be heading into his 16th season as the Lady Raiders head basketball coach. MTSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

MTSU women's basketball coach and multi Hall of Fame inductee Rick Insell recently celebrated his 69th birthday.

He has spent 44 of those years developing young talent and will enter his 16th season as the Lady Raiders head coach in 2020-21.

It has been a storied career that most could only long to achieve. His many accomplishments and accolades include:

• Won 1,115 total victories in a career spanning 40-plus seasons (775-148 record at Shelbyville Central High School and 361-130 record at MTSU, including 216-42 in conference play

• Has led MTSU to nine NCAA tournament appearances and five WNITs

• Inducted into the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2003

• Inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame, February, 2007. He is one of only six Tennesseans, and just the fourth coach, elected.

• 2010 recipient of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s Morgan Wootten Award for Lifetime Achievement for High School Girls Basketball.

• Inducted into Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, 2012

• Inducted into the Cannon County Sports Hall of Fame, 2013

• Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, June 2017

• Inducted into the Blue Raiders Sports Hall of Fame, September 2017

What's amazing if after all he has accomplished, Insell still has the same drive today as when he started coaching at Shelbyville.

"Really and truly, my passion for coaching, my passion for coaching and taking new teams and molding them together and working to get better keeps me going," Insell said. "I wake up every morning thinking about going to the NCAA and the Sweet 16 or Elite 8, and when I lay my head down at night those thoughts go also through my mind. I've been blessed to have a great family and blessed to be in a great situation at Middle Tennessee. That's what keeps me going."

Insell also quick to point out those who have made his career so successful.

"I've been blessed to have great players and I love all my players," he said. "I've had great assistants and we've got great assistants today. We just lost Shalon (Pillow) who did a phenomenal job at got a great opportunity to become a head coach for the first time (at Florida A&M).

"Also, I recruit to win a championships and playing one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. That's my mindset and I'm never going to change it. You've got to have great players to do it."

MTSU went 21-9 last season and 13-5 in Conference USA play. The Lady Raiders were one of the hottest teams going into the tournament, having won five of their last six games.

However, after warming up for their first C-USA tournament game, the event was cancelled by the COVD-19 virus.

"It was tough and I felt for our players," Insell said. "I hated it for Charity (Savage), our only senior. Never seen anything like it in all my years of coaching."

Insell hopes MTSU's strong finish will lead to a carry-over effect for his team going into the 2020-2021 season.

"I think it will carry over because I think we'll be better on the perimeter, and we were pretty good this year," he said. "We've got Anastasia (Hayes) and Aislynn (Hayes) back and we've got a young lady from Chicago (Ole Miss transfer Deja Gage) coming in. Plus, we've got the Whittington twins (Alexis and Amanda). I don't know if we have one person that can go get 10, 12, 14 rebounds a night like Charity, but I think we have a conglomerate that can.

"I feel good about our depth. It's about finding that chemistry and substitution patterns and that might take until January. My focus is getting us ready to play our conference games. I just know I'm ready to get at it."

Just as he has been for the past 43 seasons.

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