Kathie Layden Retiring After Standout Basketball Coaching Career

Writer / Natalie Platt

Area headlines in recent months have read like a farewell tour for Kathie Layden, one of the greatest Indiana basketball coaches of all time. But to Layden, it’s never been about the wins or losses – and there have been a lot of wins. In fact, Layden never looked at her career as being a coach. She viewed it as being a teacher (now dean of students at Howard Elementary).

“Coaching has always been the hobby that I have been fortunate enough to do for the past 24 years,” Layden says. “The best part has always been the relationships that are made and seeing the girls succeed in life.” Kathie Layden

After 11 years at Northwestern, and as this hobby, as Layden affectionately calls it, comes to an end, she reflects on memories that have stuck out to her, what she’s looking forward to most in retirement, and, most importantly, how the game has kept her family close.

“Probably something most people don’t know or remember is that my brother, Mike Wise, was also coaching alongside me and my dad the first year we won the state championship at Tri-Central,” she says. “My dad has always been coaching with me, for not only basketball, but he is my assistant coach for the women’s varsity tennis team as well.”

Layden is also a successful coach on the tennis courts. Northwestern has won six sectionals in a row and hasn’t lost a regular-season dual match in six years.

Layden’s husband has been coaching with her for 13 years as well, and her daughters, Madison and McKenna, have been to more basketball practices and games than Layden could ever count. This is part of the reason why both daughters are successful basketball players themselves. Madison is a junior guard at Purdue and McKenna is a Purdue recruit. Events like scouting, practices and games became family outings, yet they don’t talk about sports at home as much as people would think.

“Growing up with my dad coaching multiple sports at Taylor High School, the idea of shooting in the driveway, playing tennis, volleyball, even throwing a frisbee or football, playing catch, badminton, swimming, was how I grew up,” Layden says. “Madison and McKenna have been the same. It has definitely kept us all close. When our family gets together we play kickball, fish, spikeball, board games, you name it. Anything that we can all do together.”Kathie Layden

Time spent with her family will look slightly different in the coming days and months, and Layden is appreciative of those who helped her juggle it all during her coaching career. She credits her mom for taking the kids to practices when they were younger and wherever else they needed to go when Layden and her husband were coaching.

“The love and support we have always had from our family and friends has made it possible to juggle things as life happens,” Layden says.

Layden will miss seeing her players and other assistant coaches on a regular basis. Going to practice never felt like a chore to her, but rather a reward, and she always looked forward to those hours spent in the gym.

“I have always enjoyed that side of coaching, the time spent in practice, more than the games even,” she says. “Having fun at practice, that’s where the memories stand out to me.”

Layden will create new memories this year, though. She’s excited to watch her own daughters play.

“I am looking forward to watching the girls and traveling to more of their away games,” she says. “We have been fortunate over the past few years that we have been able to attend so many of their games, but now we want to be at all of them if possible. I love watching them and I just always tell them how proud I am of them, win or lose.”

Because, to Kathie Layden, it’s never been about the wins or losses. It’s about showing that you can have fun, create memories and be successful at the same time.

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